The iPhone 14 Pro is halfway through its reign as the “latest iPhone,” and one of the features that sets it apart from the regular iPhone 14 is only now starting to get better. I’m talking about Dynamic Island, which Apple labels on its website as a “shape-shifting, multitasking, head-turning, game-changing iPhone experience.”
In February, I wrote about how nice Dynamic Island is to look at when it’s working, “but five months into its lifespan, the feature hasn’t lived up to the promises made at launch.”
Shortly after my article went live, Uber released the Live Activities API for their app on iOS. After this Zomato and Swiggy (food delivery app in India) also released support for this feature.
After chatting with him for more than 20 days, I can finally say that Dynamic Island is improving. But is this a more convincing reason to go for the Pro variant instead of the regular or Plus model?
Dynamic Island finally does what I want
The iPhone 14 Pro series-exclusive feature only worked with some of my most-used third-party apps at launch, such as Spotify and WhatsApp. At launch, Apple said more apps would use it Dynamic Island by December 2022… But it didn’t happen.
However, by the end of February 2023, things started picking up pace. And now, in mid-April, the feature works with most third-party apps I own. Combine this with Live Activities, which displays up-to-date information from your apps on the lock screen, and Dynamic Island, and you have a winner. This allows you to see at a glance the progress of events or tasks.
Dynamic Island now works with most of the apps I use in daily life.
As with Uber, it displays the app name on the left side of the dynamic island pill and the ETA on the right side. Similarly, Swiggy displays the driver icon and ETA of the delivery person arriving at the restaurant and then the delivery ETA on the pill. When the screen is locked, the Live Activities API is invoked to show the required information.
The dynamic island with live activities makes for a seamless experience. This reduces the need for frequent push notifications. For example, on Swiggy, I used to get a notification for each step – order placed, delivery partner assigned, restaurant preparing food, ready for pickup, delivery incoming and delivered. The app no longer needs to send me these push notifications because Live Activities allows Dynamic Menu on the lock screen and Dynamic Island to show every activity – from the time you place your order until it’s delivered . I can now look at memes on Instagram or reply to someone on Twitter, but still keep track of the progress of my food order.
Dynamic Island now works with most of the apps I use in daily life, including apps in categories such as navigation (Google Maps), food delivery (Swiggy and Zomato), calling (WhatsApp), travel (Uber), Are. and music (Spotify). It is now much more functional than when it was launched seven months ago.
I’m mostly interacting with Dynamic Island when I’m using Spotify. Long-pressing gives me playback controls in a little box, and tapping on that takes me to the app. But I find myself mostly swiping down from the top to access music controls via the notification shade rather than long-pressing the dynamic island.
Dynamic Island itself is still redundant at times. I see the location icon on the status bar as well as the dynamic island to indicate that an app is using location services in the background. I don’t want the same icon to appear twice at once, and I’m surprised Apple hasn’t worked on this yet.
It’s getting better, but…
What makes Live Activities better to use are third-party apps, not its integration with Dynamic Island. Noting that the feature is also available on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, I don’t see the reason why Dynamic Island should upgrade from the regular model to the latest iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max.
If you’re considering buying the iPhone 14 Pro, go for it for the more versatile camera setup and better processor, compared to the regular iPhone 14 (which should make the Pro last a year longer).
And if you don’t need the extra lens or won’t be using your iPhone for more than three years, it’s better to settle for a more affordable option. Because, at least for now, Dynamic Island is still no reason to go for the iPhone 14 Pro lineup.