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Dynamic Island’s creation came from thinking about a smaller TrueDepth camera array for the iPhone 14 Pro, an interview with SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi and VP of human interface design Alan Dye claims.
The Dynamic Island of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max has received positive feedback from users since its introduction, replacing the often complained about notch. In an interview about the software feature, Craig Federighi and Alan Dye explain some of what went into its creation.
“It’s probably the first major operation change in five years since the iPhone X came out,” claimed Federighi to Axis, following the removal of the Home button. That hardware change caused a fundamental review of “various iPhone operation methods, such as how to unlock the lock screen, return to the Home Screen, and how to switch apps.”
The Home button change revamped the appearance of the iPhone, he continued “it made me think again about how to run multiple apps, notifications, and how to manage the ongoing behavior in the background. It was a very exciting challenge for us to consolidate what is happening on our iPhone into this small interactive place.”
Dye chimed in, explaining that both hardware and software partners came together to solve the problem. “This new feature also made it possible to display alerts, notifications, and ongoing operations in real-time without seeing the boundary between hardware and software. I think it’s a good example of Apple-like development.”
On where Dynamic Island came up as a concept, Dye admitted it’s “very difficult to trace the source of ideas,” because work is based on a “huge discussion with difficult groups of people.” The idea stemmed from a question of “what could be done with the extra space if the top sensor area could be made smaller,” and it was apparently a discussion that had “been going on for year, not the last year or so.”
While the status bar was small to begin with, Dye remembered “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 lets you know what you’re doing.”
“You forget that there is a static physical hardware, and the whole is a dynamic software like a fluid. Our goal was to make you think,” he continued.
On the reveal of Dynamic Island, Federighi reminisces about the Steve Jobs Theater presentation, and the moment it was brought up on screen and shown I action. “Everyone at the venue held their breath and fell silent. I heard a voice of surprise. It was the same when we first saw this feature inside Apple.”