Using Gestures Inside the Dynamic Island With iOS 16.1 Betas

I was a bit confused when people started tweeting about these gestures last week, because I couldn’t get any of them to work. Turns out they’re not present in iOS 16.0, but are enabled in the 16.1 betas. (As of this writing, that’s beta 5, released last week.) After installing the beta and playing with these gestures for a few days, I can’t say I’m a fan. I don’t see what these gestures add other than confusion — I think most people would experience these things only by accident, and consider them bugs, not features.

While I’m writing about the Dynamic Island: The more I use it, the more I agree with the common request that simply tapping an item in the Dynamic Island should open the expanded view, instead of jumping you into the app responsible for that item. Or at least there should be an option to allow single-tapping to open expanded views. Then you wouldn’t need to long-press anything. A simple single-tap would open the Dynamic Island item’s expanded view, and another single-tap inside the expanded view would jump you to the app. (Single-tapping inside the expanded view already works to jump you to the app responsible for the item.)

I see two problems with the way things work now, where you need to long-press a compact item in the Dynamic Island to open its expanded view. First, long-pressing is not discoverable. It’s very much the touchscreen equivalent of right-clicking in MacOS. There have always been some features in iOS that require a long-press — putting the home screen into jiggle mode to rearrange and remove apps, for example — but I don’t think the Dynamic Island’s expanded view should require it. I worry too many people aren’t going to know the expanded views even exist. Second, for people who do know about the expanded view, why not make it as easy as possible to get to it? Long-pressing is, by definition, slow — getting to the expanded Dynamic Island view feels like the opposite of a shortcut.

Monday, 17 October 2022