When you think about it, Apple’s new Dynamic Island feature is likely to become a critical point of interaction between apps and users of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max phones that support it. It looks like a great opportunity for both B2C and B2B app experiences that can establish a digital connection with end users.
What is Dynamic Island?
Dynamic Island transforms Apple’s boring notch, behind which sits the FaceID camera, into an exciting interactive area that allows users to monitor important app activity (such as ETA delivery service, music playback and sports scores) and take control of applications.
It is possible to keep two applications active in Dynamic Island while working in another application. (For many, this will come down to scrolling Twitter while waiting for pizza delivery. Let’s not judge.)
In typical Apple style, the dynamic island comes in different shapes with smooth animations. The information it presents should be viewed as searchable data – you won’t be reading books or engaging in more sophisticated tasks in Apple’s Dynamic Island. You have other apps for that.
Apple will enable the feature, which depends on the new Live Activities frameworks, in a later release of iOS 16. “Once ActivityKit is available in an update to iOS 16, you will be able to implement Live Activities and interact with them in Dynamic Island,” Apple told the developers.
Dynamic Island is not available everywhere. It will only be supported on Apple’s most expensive iPhone models and exploits the pill-shaped area that supplants the notch.
To achieve this, Apple redesigned its TrueDepth (selfie) camera, making it smaller. It also placed a proximity sensor behind the screen. What’s important about this is that if you’re looking at your phone, that little interactive area is likely to catch your eye, because that’s also where your FaceID sensor is.
How does Dynamic Island work?
The functionality relies on the OLED display, which can turn off individual pixels, turning them black. This allowed Apple to design a user interface for the area that changes shape to reflect the content of what it’s doing. This space is then used to provide small nuggets of information, such as those described above or data relevant to your application.
The live activity frameworks made available to developers by Apple are designed to give you an active overview of application information. This means carpooling and delivery, sports scores, stopwatches, flight or transit times and more.
What Apple Said About Dynamic Island
Apple brought in Alan Dye, vice president of human interface design, to explain the feature, which turns a section of the screen that many considered dead space into one that shouldn’t be ignored. With usual modesty, Apple said Dynamic Island “blurs the line between hardware and software.”
He explained that he does this by sharing real-time alerts in different forms to reflect the type of action taking place. It’s not like notifications, which also exist, but they’re designed to support ongoing background activity.
In a statement, the company also said:
“Without interfering with on-screen content, Dynamic Island maintains an active state to make it easier for users to access controls with a single long press. Running background activities like maps, music, or a timer will remain visible and interactive, and third-party apps in iOS 16 that provide information such as sports scores and carpooling with Live Activities can take advantage of Dynamic Island.
In other words, it works to combine notifications, alerts, and activities into a highly interactive space.
What type of activities does it support?
Apple described several uses of Dynamic Island during its presentation. Different uses come in different forms, reflecting the information they attempt to present.
To support multiple applications, the island splits, appearing as a small pill shape on the left with a circle on the right. These can then display different information from different applications. When tapped, the chosen item expands for you to interact with.
The company showed a few ways people could use the feature. It is important to point out that Apple has also created frameworks to allow developers to introduce support into their applications. In other words, the examples presented by Apple are not the only ways to use the feature.
- Apple Pay payment confirmations – in this case, the dynamic island is in the form of a square to confirm that the payment has taken place.
- Maps can use the feature to show directions.
- Music playback controls, song titles, etc. When you’re playing music but exiting the music app, a small cover image appears on the left side of the island with a live music waveform on the right.
- Tracking of trips or deliveries.
- Sports results.
- Battery life, charging status and privacy indicators.
What Apple has also done is create a real estate display section that promises to deliver the highest casual engagement available anywhere on the device. I think this can be an opportunity for companies that can think creatively about how to use this space to create very useful experiences with their iOS apps.
It’s also important to note that the digital island is viewed on a device with an always-on screen, which means you can put your phone on a desk in a meeting and still glance to keep up with the sports results, for example.
Live Activities and Activity Kit
Apple’s frameworks for providing these interactions are called Live Activities and Activity Kit, used in conjunction with WidgeKit and SwiftUI. “Live Activities displays and updates an app’s most recent data on the iPhone lock screen. This allows people to see live information that matters most to them at a glance. eye,” Apple explained.
Although they won’t be available when iOS 16 ships, they will be introduced in an update later this year, the company said. Live Activities will leverage WidgetKit and SwiftUI to display information, while Activity Kit will manage the lifecycle of that data – a Live Activity can only be active for up to eight hours, but can remain on the LockScreen for four more hours after that.
Live Activities are not applications in themselves: they work in a sandbox and do not have unique network access, which means that the information they present is provided from the application. concerned.
[Also read: 10 lesser-known iOS 16 features to make work easier]
It will be important to ensure that the experience offered by any app that supports Dynamic Island is meaningful enough to keep people engaged with the information provided.
I don’t really believe that Dynamic Island is meant to be a space for marketing messages, however subtle – it’s an active space for the active information that users want and need. Defining where that relationship lies in terms of interacting with your own business will be a task unique to each business.
Developers can learn more about Live Activities in an Apple Developer Note available here.
What happens afterwards?
9to5Mac already wondering how this feature could work on an iPad. It’s also relatively easy to imagine this as the kind of technology that might once have been intended for the Touch Bar on a Mac.
But, to me, Dynamic Island also feels like the kind of content-rich, immersive interactive experience space you can imagine made visible in augmented reality-based user interfaces. This potential may be the main reason enterprise developers are exploring Apple’s new Live Activities frameworks, as it’s plausible that they’ll be part of how the company will enable app interactivity in AR space, especially in wearable experiences.
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