Dynamic Island Defined

A Dynamic Island is an interactive, oval-shaped iOS feature that appears on the upper part of a user's display screen by the TrueDepth camera. The feature, available on iPhone Pro 14+, enables users to continue an activity in progress or view an alert without having that activity take up their entire screen, making it easier to multitask. 

As the "dynamic" part of Dynamic Island suggests, this feature will automatically change size and shape to adapt to whatever's being displayed on the screen. Users can also click on a dynamic activity to expand it and see more, collapse the activity into a smaller Dynamic Island, or switch between two activities in progress. 

For app developers, the Dynamic Activities feature provides another way to keep users engaged and create a seamless UX. 

How to Use it in a Sentence

The Dynamic Island can be used to display turn-by-turn directions, show an incoming call or an active timer, and much more.

Common FAQs

For iOS users, Dynamic Islands offers many advantages, including:

  • The smaller shape of the Dynamic Island allows users to interact with background tasks without stopping their activity in progress
  • The Dynamic Island makes it easier to receive updates and view real-time progress on an activity
  • Several activities can be viewed simultaneously
  • It can be triggered by unlocking your iPhone without any additional interactions, creating a seamless UX

There are some drawbacks to this feature, including:

  • It's only accessible on iOS 14+
  • Because the Dynamic Island is located at the upper part of the iPhone screen by the camera, it can be difficult to reach with one hand and touching this area can result in lens smudges
  • Some users find this feature distracting, or feel that the feature was over-hyped by Apple prior to its release
  • The limited third-party app support for this feature makes widespread adoption difficult and can lead to an inconsistent experience across apps
  • Some app developers and users are disappointed by the lack of customization offered by the Dynamic Island

Live Activities was released as part of iOS 16. On devices that support the Dynamic Island functionality, Live Activities can leverage this functionality to display a Live Activity in the upper part of a user's screen in addition to the Lock Screen. In other words, the Dynamic Island facilitates notifications to appear specifically on the Home Screen. For devices that don't support Dynamic Island, apps can still display Live Activities in a banner.

Because setting up Dynamic Island takes dev time and resources, iOS apps need to decide if that investment is worthwhile. The short answer is that it depends on the app. Whereas some apps think the feature is overhyped, other apps have taken advantage of this functionality to leverage Live Activities on the Home Screen and provide a sticky and seamless UX. If you plan to use Live Activities, then investing in Dynamic Island can expand the options you have available for displaying Live Activities. For inspiration, check out these 22 Examples of Apps Using Live Activities to Enrich Their UX.