The Dynamic Island is cool but please don't let it become another Touch Bar

iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island
(Image credit: iMore)

When I first saw the iPhone 14 Pro in September 2022, I was beyond excited about the Dynamic Island. The merging of hardware and software to create something magical felt like Apple at its best, and I couldn’t wait to get the device into my hands.

When launch day came around, and I finally got to switch on my Deep Purple iPhone 14 Pro, I was immediately excited by the look of the new “notch.” I tried out all of Apple’s first-party compatible apps. I listened to Music with the waveform in the Dynamic Island, for example, and I couldn’t wait to show my girlfriend how cool timers on my new iPhone were, integrating seamlessly into the pill-shaped blob at the top of my phone.

Now, six months later, I’m left looking at my iPhone, wondering why the Dynamic Island I was so excited about is still only used to check how long until my pasta is cooked. The feature has so much promise, especially with rumors of Apple bringing the Dynamic Island to the whole iPhone 15 lineup, so why do I feel like we’ve got another TouchBar situation on our hands?

Don’t be another Touch Bar

2017 MacBook Pro

(Image credit: iMore)

In 2016, Apple released new MacBook Pros with the infamous butterfly switches and the now discontinued Touch Bar. The Touch Bar, just like the Dynamic Island, was met with intrigue at the opportunity of having an ever-changing touchscreen function bar on your MacBook.

At first, the gimmick was quite remarkable. I remember downloading software to get the rainbow Nyan Cat to constantly fly above my keyboard - and to this day, I’m adamant that this was the only benefit to the Touch Bar over a regular function row. Most people learned to despise the lack of function keys, and sooner rather than later, the Touch Bar was no more. 

Even when Touch Bar MacBook Pros were still in style, Apple never went hard on its Touch Bar strategy by implementing the feature into its wireless Magic Keyboard, for example. Unfortunately, by not implementing the Touch Bar across the Mac lineup, Apple ended up isolating the feature and sentencing it to a premature death in 2021, reverting back to a standard function row with the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros.

Dreaming of a Dynamic Island

Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

The Dynamic Island as a scoreboard for sport was enough to sell me on the idea of a new type of notch for my iPhone. I’m constantly looking for new ways to get football results across my Apple devices, whether that’s a notification on my Apple Watch or full-featured statistics on my iPad. In Apple’s initial reveal of the Dynamic Island, sports scores were at the forefront of the feature demo, and that was enough to claim my hard-earned cash. 

To get sports scores on my iPhone 14 Pro, I had to wait for the launch of the Live Activities feature and for third-party developers to gain access to the API. So I waited patiently, using the Dynamic Island as a timer for my pasta, and then finally jumped onto the iOS 16.1 beta. 

As soon as I favorited my first match in FotMob and had live scores in my Dynamic Island, I knew the £1049 I spent on my iPhone 14 Pro was worth it. And then, I never used it again.

As soon as I favorited my first match in FotMob and had live scores in my Dynamic Island, I knew the £1049 I spent on my iPhone 14 Pro was worth it. And then, I never used it again.

Waiting for that killer use case

I thought sports scores would be a killer feature with the Dynamic Island, but unfortunately, the main apps I use for live scores, like FlashScore, still aren’t compatible with the pill-shaped notch. I’ve tried other apps, but FlashScore, in particular, is so engrained into the way I use my device that it beats out the potential of a live result in my notch.

I am still waiting to see a use case for the Dynamic Island that stands the test of time in my daily routine. I’ve tried the gimmicks, like Apollo for Reddit, which gives you a tamagotchi-like pet as you scroll through subreddits. I’ve tried customization apps like Lock Launcher, which allow you to use the Dynamic Island as a quick launcher for your favorite apps. Unfortunately, nothing seems to make me appreciate the Dynamic Island, and I don’t know if I’m overthinking it.

Pixel Pals Apollo for Reddit

(Image credit: Apollo)

But, the more the main reason I bought the iPhone 14 Pro becomes a pasta timer, the more my disappointment builds. 

I see a lot of similarities between the Dynamic Island and the Touch Bar; they are both exciting and bright features, require new user input, and are intriguing features that make people interested in a product. 

But thankfully, unlike the Touch Bar, the Dynamic Island doesn’t change any functionality on your iPhone, instead, it expands the way you can interact with your device. And, if the rumors are correct, Apple seems to be all in on the Dynamic Island, adding it to the regular iPhone 15 alongside the 15 Pro

Hopefully, with iOS 17 likely to be revealed at WWDC on June 5, we’ll finally see that killer use case that makes skeptical users like myself stand up and acknowledge what could be one of the best iPhone features we ever see. 

So while I’m tentative about the Dynamic Island, after barely using it over the last six months, I’m hopeful that Apple has seen the similarities between the new feature and the Touch Bar, and the company is about to wrong the rights. Don’t make the same mistake twice, Apple.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings. John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.  John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.