of Apple iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have a lot of shiny new features, but the most notable is that Apple is reducing the notch on the display, surrounding it with the screen and naming it Dynamic Island.

Of course, Apple named the camera cutouts so the press and public wouldn’t call it something worse than a notch, as we saw happen with iPhone X.

But what is so special about Dynamic Island? Well, Apple took what are essentially two different cutouts — you can see them if you look closely at the screen while rotating the phone — and created software to hide the camera modules while making it interactive.

Not sure what I mean by that? Let’s take a closer look.

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Which apps use Dynamic Island?

There’s currently a short list of Apple apps that integrate with Dynamic Island, but it’s sure to grow in the future. You’ll see a fun animation within the island when you use Face ID to unlock your phone or turn on your phone to charge it. But these are just two of the more basic interactions.

Open your music app of choice, such as Spotify or Apple Music, and start playing a song. Then exit the app to continue running in the background.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The dynamic island will begin to display the album art for the song currently playing, along with a sound wave-like animation on the right.

I’m constantly discovering new apps that use Dynamic Island, but right now the list includes Phone, Maps, Clock, Maps, FaceTime, Apple Pay, Screen Recording, Hotspot Status, and AirPods Status Indicators.

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Pro Max Dynamic Island

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

How to interact with applications that use Dynamic Island

When you’re listening to music or have an active timer, the island doesn’t just act as a place to provide a quick status update for that task—you can also interact with the app in question directly from the island.

For example, when listening to music, you can tap the island to open the corresponding app and make changes such as skipping the song, going back, or pressing the play and pause button.

It’s simple enough, but where Dynamic Island really shows its potential is when you long press it.

Using Music as the same example, a long press on the island will open a shortcut to all the key controls you’d expect to control music playback, including the AirPlay button.

But wait, there’s more. If you have two apps using Dynamic Island at the same time – say Music and a timer in the Clock app – the island will display animations for both tasks, with the timer represented by a small animation on the right. You can use the same touch or long-press interaction for each app to interact with them.

Pretty neat.

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iPhone 14 Pro Max Dynamic Island Live Activities feature

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

With iOS 16.1, Dynamic Island gets better

With the release of iOS 16.1 on October 24th, Apple added more to the iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island via a new feature coming to all iPhone models called Live Activities.

Live Activity adds a sort of live widget to the iPhone’s lock screen that updates constantly. For example, apps like Uber can use Live Activities to update your driver’s location after you call for a ride. Or sports apps can put game scores on your lock screen by frequently updating the score or game.

The screenshots above are taken from FotMob app. When you prefer an active game in the app, FotMob adds it to your lock screen. When you unlock your phone and actively use it, you will continue to see the result in Dynamic Island. You can long press to see a larger version of the widget or tap on it to launch the app. This is really cool and I can’t wait to see more apps add support for it.

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There is a hidden gesture for Dynamic Island in iOS 16.1

Speaking of iOS 16.1, once you update youriPhone 14 Pro to Apple’s latest and greatest software, you’ll get an additional option to interact with the island by swiping on it.

If you have two open and active apps on the island, you can swipe to the middle of the screen to minimize one of the activities, or swipe again to completely hide everything on the island. Swipe out to the edge of the screen to bring back any of the activities.