The Dynamic Island in Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro received a ton of media attention. Here’s Apple’s description:

The Dynamic Island blurs the line between hardware and software, fluidly expanding into different shapes to clearly convey important activities like Face ID authentication. […] Without impeding content on the screen, the Dynamic Island maintains an active state to allow users easier access to controls with a simple tap-and-hold. Ongoing background activities like Maps, Music, or a timer remain visible and interactive.


The reception is positive, save for this critique by former Apple designer Ken Kocienda:

I worry that a whole bunch of designer effort is now going to be spent on making blobby wobbly pixels—but for what actual benefit? Making great software is still mostly about delivering useful and meaningful features for people.

Augmented Reality blurs hardware, software, and the world around us. I wonder if Apple is introducing this fluid motion style and “hardware blurring” as groundwork for AR interfaces that extend and elaborate on our physical surroundings (e.g., a credit card viewed in AR whose information gushes or flows outward to transform into a menu with more account details).

Toolbar styles used to simulate real textures like leather and brushed metal in the earlier days of UI design skeuomorphism. Buttons had a glossy, protruding appearance as a signal that users could press them.

Supposedly, XR experiences will become the primary place where people interact with software. In that case, UI designers need to rethink their approach to visuals that have always lived in 2D.

Just as skeuomorphism accustomed users to touch interactions with 2D interfaces, I wonder how the Dynamic Island’s life-like fluidity and physics could similarly make 3D interface objects more approachable in AR or VR.

Yes, as Kocienda suggests, this could go too far. Ideally, design should get out of our way with no frills or whimsical flairs. Still, there’s a longing for digital experiences with more personality and warmth.