With the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple has shown how display camera cut-outs can be transformed into a feature rather than act as a potential distraction for some users. The Dynamic Island provides a rather smart way to serve up notifications, live activities and other info at a glance, with various taps able to expand it into a more usable tool. And its ripe for Android phones to rip-off.
As such, there’s the new dynamicSpot (opens in new tab) app for Android that aims to put a form of Dynamic Island onto the top edge of your phone’s display. Currently in a beta form, the dynamicSpot provides a way to see notifications in a pill-shaped interface, likely centered around a front-facing camera cut-out, and then interact with them.
And as it’s easily available through the Google Play Store, I decided to give it a go. After a quick download and a few steps to grant the app various permissions — some of which arguably felt a little intrusive to me — dynamicSpot was up and running.
I wish I hadn't bothered.
Yesterday, I got to see the Dynamic Island with my own eyes, thanks to a demonstration from a lucky U.K. tech journalist with the iPhone 14 Pro. I was skeptical of the utility of the Dynamic Island, but seeing is believing. And in actual use it seems like a really neat feature; a superfluous perk perhaps, but a luxury UI element to go with a premium flagship phone.
Sadly, dynamicSpot ain’t it, chief. In the version I was using, there's no way to flick apps into the bar to then quickly access many of their functions. Really, dynamicSpot is a notification bar that's a little more functional thanks to a long-press expanding it.
But on my Galaxy S22 Ultra it was rendered a little moot, given app notifications are served up by the phone in the top left-hand side of the screen. And I find the swipe-down notification panel that’s in Android 12 and Android 13 is far more intuitive. Furthermore, I wasn’t getting notifications from nearly as many apps as I expected despite giving dynamicSpot access to them.
Of course, dynamicSpot is still in beta and more functions could be added to it, though I don’t feel the underlying Android framework is there for such third-party UI elements to work well.
But it does demonstrate there's potential for the best Android phones to have their own takes on Dynamic Island and I’m sure we’ll see it aped by some Android phone markers and inspire others to use it as a jumping off point to create smart UI and notification elements.