Federighi: Dynamic Island Gave the iPhone a Strong Personality

BY Dave Johnson

Published 3 Oct 2022

dynamic island

In a recent interview, Craig Federighi describes the iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island as the first significant user experience change for the iPhone.

The black area at the top of your smartphone display goes by different names nowadays. But whether you call it a notch, hole-punch, or pill, the cut-outs are necessary for sensors such as infrared and front-facing cameras. 

Recently, Apple replaced the black area at the top of the iPhone 14 Pro models — the infamous notch — with an interactive pill-shaped cut-out called Dynamic Island. As you may have guessed, the feature has received positive reactions from several users and tech reviewers.

So it’s not surprising that two Apple executives sat with the Japanese magazine, Axis, to discuss the new Dynamic Island and its origin. The discussion featured Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, and Apple’s vice president of human interface design, Alan Dye. 

So, where did the idea for a Dynamic Island originate? 

How Apple Came Up With the Dynamic Island Idea

Dye explains that the team had to brainstorm how to repurpose the extra space at the display’s top after shrinking the TrueDepth camera system. So they sought to create something similar to the status bar — offering helpful information while maintaining elegance. 

Dye adds: 

“The breakthrough moment was when I realized that the [Dynamic Island] animation didn’t have to be limited to the status bar area. It gets a little bigger and let you know what you’re doing.”

The Apple executive further describes the iPhone 14 Pro’s Dynamic Island as a breakthrough that offers a smooth and natural user experience. 

“Our goal was to make them forget that there is static physical hardware and make them think that the whole thing is fluid-like dynamic software.” 

Federighi notes that the crowd at the Steve Jobs Theater expressed an audible sense of surprise when they saw the Dynamic Island for the first time. He then confesses to having a similar reaction the first time he saw the feature internally. 

“It’s a very delicate animation effect, but it’s a little different from anthropomorphism,” says Federighi. “But I think it gave the ‌iPhone‌ a new strong personality and vitality.”