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The iPhone 14 Pro Turns Awkward Screen Space Into Something Useful. Here’s How

This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Apple’s most popular product.

If the notch — the space that houses your camera lens and speaker at the top of your screen — at the top of your iPhone has always bugged you, the iPhone 14 Pro might have something that could interest you. Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro models have a smaller cutout, something like a small oval island, that makes that space a little more useful. 

On the new iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max phones announced Wednesday, the notch is reenvisioned as a pill-shaped cutout that can become part of other things you naturally do as you use the phone. Apple calls this the Dynamic Island. (Yes, Apple has been the butt of jokes about that name.)

Alongside the iPhone 14 Pro and Max always-on display, the Dynamic Island is one of two new screen features exclusive to the more expensive, higher-powered models in the iPhone 14 lineup. The new Dynamic Island around the static cutout transforms a seemingly dead space into a tiny notification center with distinct animations for whatever it is you’re doing on your phone, whether that’s charging the battery, taking a call or listening to music.

If you’re thinking of buying a new iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Maxpreorders began on Friday, with a Sept. 16 release date — or are simply curious about Apple’s refreshed take on the much-maligned notch, here’s everything you need to know.

iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island cutout: What is it?

The Dynamic Island is a new feature at the top of the iPhone 14 Pro models that reimagines the notch as a cutout. It shifts in shape and size to display notifications and timely information for current actions and ongoing background activities, depending on what you’re doing on your phone.

Here are some things Apple said the Dynamic Island will show as a kind of notification or informational ticker at the top of the iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max screen:

  • Arrival time for ride-share services like Lyft
  • Turn-by-turn navigation with Apple Maps
  • Contact information and call length for phone calls
  • Battery percentage when your iPhone or AirPods are charging
  • Cover art when playing songs from Apple Music
  • Transit card payments
  • Sports scores
  • Flight information
  • Timer length
  • Payments with Face ID
  • Files sent with AirDrop
  • Mute icon

We’ll continue to update this list with more features as we learn more, especially as we get a chance to play with the Dynamic Island feature on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max ourselves.

What if you’re doing two things on your iPhone 14 Pro at once?

If you have two things going on in the background, like a phone call and a timer, the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will split into two to show you information for both your activities, so for example, a timer and a phone call.

Can you tap on the Dynamic Island? Yes!

On the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, if you press and hold down on the Dynamic Island while it’s showcasing information, it may expand to show even more. 

For example, if you tap on the cutout when you’re playing a song in Apple Music, you can check out the song title and artist name and control the music (pause, play, rewind and forward). If you tap on the cutout when it’s displaying your departure time for a flight, it might also show locations, baggage details, possible delays and more.

If you tap on the Dynamic Island, you’ll be redirected to the app that’s currently displaying information in the cutout.

Which apps and services will the new iPhone 14 Pro notch work with?

You can expect Dynamic Island to work with most Apple features, services and apps, and some third-party apps like Lyft. 

Live Activities, which is a new iOS 16 widget on your lock screen that displays interactive and up-to-date notifications, will work seamlessly with Dynamic Island to display information from third-party apps on both your lock screen and home screen. We expect more app makers to come on board in the future.

So does the Dynamic Island completely replace the notch?

Yes, the Dynamic Island pill-shaped cutout does replace the larger notch that was featured on previous iPhone models, like the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12. However, a smaller notch still exists, hidden underneath the Dynamic Island, housing the camera, speaker and Face ID components. While the Dynamic Island shifts in size, it can never disappear completely because of the notch — it’s like a disguise.

Will other iPhones get the Dynamic Island?

For now, the Dynamic Island is only available on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Both models will be released on Sept. 16, but you can preorder both phones from this Friday, Sept. 9. We can’t say for sure if Apple will bring the Dynamic Island to future iPhones, iPads, or Apple Watch models, but we will keep a close eye on how the feature works and if it lives up to its promise.

For more details, here’s a recap of everything Apple announced, including new AirPods Pro 2 with updated noise cancellation and three different watches in the Apple Watch 8 series.

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