While Dynamic Island is still in its early stages, it’s clear that it will be a major iPhone feature for years to come. iOS 16.1 gives developers the ability to create their own Digital Island interactions with Live Activities, and now it’s rumored that Apple will bring it to all iPhone 15 models next year.
What is not clear is how much freedom Apple will give with the Dynamic Island. As it stands it’s more of a visual multitasker to show things going on in the background like timers and music, but the Dynamic Island’s lively, ever-active nature lends itself to much more.
Take the Apollo app, for example. This Reddit reader (designed by Christian Selig) lets you add a digital cat, dog, hedgehog, fox, or axolotl that hangs out on the digital island as you browse the app. It’s cute, smart, and a great way to add a touch of personalization to the iPhone if Apple allowed it at the system level. Selig’s pets are a temporary solution, but imagine an app that allows you to let a small animal roam the Digital Island while you’re at work. Perhaps the Live Activities API allows Selig to create an app that minimizes to the Digital Island and lets a small pet live in it, but it’s questionable.
In a Twitter thread over the weekend, Parker Ortolani posted a photo of what everyone who owns an iPhone 14 Pro thought: the Dynamic Island could be so much more. In a series of GIFs, Ortolani demonstrates how the Dynamic Island can be a primary UI rather than a secondary, making Siri, Messages, Calculator, and Notes a home.
Like Selig’s pets, Ortolani’s concept brings a level of fun not possible with the Dynamic Island as Apple envisions it. Because as much fun as Dynamic Island is in product videos and demos, interactions with it are quite rare, and most of the time it’s as empty and lifeless as the ravages of time. Except for phone calls, you need to do something to activate Dynamic Island.
The Dynamic Island has surprised everyone. In an announcement featuring a new 48MP camera, always-on display and next-gen processor, the Dynamic Island is the thing everyone wants to see in action, and Apple should embrace its fun side. Animations are nice, but the Dynamic Island could be so much more than a volatile multitasking interface. And all it took to show us was a very small cat.