Perhaps the biggest advancements in the iPhone 14 Pro aren’t things you can see from the outside. The main camera has four times the megapixels of all previous iPhone cameras, allowing for all kinds of functions. There are other camera upgrades as well, and they’re all boosted by the new A16 Bionic chip and its sub-processors.
But all people will find that it is the things they can see. At the Far Out event to introduce the new iPhones on Wednesday, I could see the biggest visual difference: the Dynamic Island – a feature that merges hardware and software while answering the question, “Do you think Apple regrets that? they don’t have the notch brand name?”
The Dynamic Island is the replacement for the notch, a combination of two small sensor recesses that Apple connects to darkened pixels in the display. We’ve seen similar screens on Android phones, but Apple has created something really unique here. First, the pixels between the two cutouts aren’t wasted – Apple uses them to represent the “recording” dot that indicates a microphone or camera is active.
But of course it goes beyond that – much further. The Dynamic Island can grow and change based on the current state of the device. It appears to be an extension of the upcoming Live Activity widget specification in iOS 16 that will allow apps to display tiny bits of information in the capsule-shaped Dynamic Island.
For example, if you’re currently playing music and you swipe away from the Music app, a small album cover will appear on the right side of the Dynamic Island, with a live music waveform — in color matching the album art — on the right side. It’s all designed to work artfully around the space occupied by the two sensor recesses. It also works with other apps and is extremely smart.
Just as striking is the always-on display. Instead of reducing the screen to a faint, monochromatic version of your lock screen, Apple still displays your lock screen, just dimmed. Colors are still visible and even striking. And of course, all the lock screen widgets are there to provide information. To save power, some widgets stop updating so often, for example the timer widget darkens the number of seconds so it doesn’t have to update itself every second. It’s very much the same approach Apple took when it brought an always-on display to the Apple Watch.