Bring Apple’s Dynamic Island to your Android phone

Apple clearly knows a thing or two about design, and the year after year of releasing premium iPhone hardware has given it a top position as a trendsetter in the smartphone industry. Just think: When the company dropped the headphone jack, we saw almost every major Android manufacturer rushing to follow suit. Occasionally, however, things go the other way, and Android phones eventually raise the bar for iPhone features. Brands like Samsung have ditched the notch in favor of circular punch cutouts for their front-facing cameras. Apple may be fashionably late on this trend, with the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max only transitioning to a pill-shaped cutout called Dynamic Island this month, but boy, it still manages to leave quite the impression. Android developers have been quick to replicate the software side of Apple’s implementation, and today we take a look at how well an app called dynamicSpot manages to bring the Dynamic Island experience to Android.


Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro certainly feels like it’s an apt name for what we’re getting – the rectangular pill-shaped cutout in the screen surrounding the selfie camera and Face ID hardware just floats there like an island in a sea of ​​pixels. When you tap a notification in the pill, it responds by animating and resizing, creating the illusion that the pill-shaped cutout is physically expanding (allowing for customization of the indicators for notification icons, background tasks in progress, and incoming alerts). These effects are a visual treat on the OLED screens used by iPhones (not to mention dozens of Android devices, both mid-range and flagship), as they’re capable of significantly deeper blacks than an LCD.

Last week, theme developers showed what a Dynamic Island could look like on a Xiaomi phone. While promising, that was also a solution specific to one company’s devices, and last time we checked, the theme was still pending approval. But XDA Developers managed to discover a new app called dynamicSpot in early access, and after checking it out for themselves, it could be the perfect solution if you’re yearning for the visual experience of Dynamic Island on Android phones – and especially those with centrally aligned hole punch cameras like the Google Pixel 6 or Samsung Galaxy S22 series. The app is the brainchild of developer Jawomo, also known for their Bixby button remapper app and the notification light app for OnePlus phones.

Once installed, the lightweight app creates a black pill-shaped bar that surrounds your screen’s camera cutout with notification icons. You enlarge the island with a long tap on the pill, while a short tap connects you to the notification app. If that sounds retarded, with a small IAP you can change those interactions. As you would with other notifications on Android, you can swipe to ignore, and if the pill disappears before you can access the alert, just open your trusted notification shade.

To get started with dynamicSpot, you need to give it permission to read your notifications and draw over other apps. We also recommend disabling power-saving restrictions so that the process doesn’t abort in the background. The developer notes that the app itself doesn’t connect to the internet, which sounds good for privacy, but the absence of other permissions like Bluetooth and GPS means it loses the ability to show alerts when Bluetooth devices connect. – a feature seen on the iPhone 14 Pro.

For an app that is still in early access, dynamicSpot is already quite capable. It supports notifications for all installed apps, complete with detailed controls for each and quick action buttons for some of them.

The clean user interface of the personalization app has a toggle to enable or disable the notification island, as well as settings that allow you to adjust the vertical position, width, and height so that it aligns perfectly with your punch camera. There’s even a handy test button so you don’t have to wait for a friend to ping you to see how your notifications will appear. What the app doesn’t have is a slider to adjust the island’s horizontal position, so it doesn’t support phones with their selfie cam cutouts in the corner, like the OnePlus Nord 2.

If you cough up the small fee for the Pro version, you can control how long the pill lasts after a notification comes in, and how the island behaves when the screen is off. You can also unlock alerts for when the battery level drops below 15 percent and when the phone is fully charged.

For an app supposedly developed in such a short time, dynamicSpot already offers an impressive level of brilliance. Still, we understand that this is a beta in progress and users can expect a few hiccups as they get started. For example, at first you’ll see notification popups next to your pill icons, creating a duplicate, but the fix is ​​simple: disable floating notifications for installed apps. You’ll probably want to set that up manually, because while dynamicSpot has a toggle to do this for you, it’s another paywall Pro feature (plus, it doesn’t seem to be in working order).

The floating notification should be turned off if you want to use the pill alone

Other minor inconveniences include incorrect media duration displaying on either side of the playback progress bar, missing quick action buttons for some notifications, and incorrect system time and date displayed in the charging indicator.

Importantly, returning to the home screen on your phone doesn’t minimize an active app to the island, one of the biggest behavioral changes different from Apple’s implementation. It would be nice to see apps like this benefit from closer integration with Android launchers like Nova Launcher as they control apps launch animations. We wouldn’t be surprised if developers behind emerging launchers also integrate some sort of island-like feature into their own apps.

It would be unfair to expect iPhone island-level dynamism and shine from Android copycats developed in a week or two, but apps like this are already on their way to becoming the go-to solution for themes and customizations for an iOS-like look. on a budget. The developer promises to add more custom animations and interactions and improve app support, but we hope they fix the minor issues as well. If you liked how this all sounds and are interested in giving it a spin, all you need is an Android device to install dynamicSpot with an OLED display — and the best Android phones come with one.

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