One of the most exciting design patterns was just revealed - Plan Your Next No. 124
👋 Good morning from Los Angeles! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is #124 of Plan Your Next. A Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
💡 What’s new?
✍️ Drawing for Writers: Salman and I just recorded two more videos for our drawing course on Friday. It’s taking us a little longer than anticipated since we wanted to consolidate how we talk about our drawing process. We’ve narrowed it down to a 4-step process for drawing anything you want. But now that it’s settled, we can’t wait to record the rest!
In 2007, I stood in line at a Cingular store in 114-degree heat to get the new iPhone. I was at a conference for work, but getting the first iPhone was the most important thing on my mind. To slip away and stand in line for two hours baking in the sun, hoping to walk away with my freshly minted iPhone.
But it wasn’t meant to be that day. They sold out with three people in front of me.
The iPhone pivoted my career as a designer, and each new release still captures my attention. At this point, the hardware matters less and less, because our lives are powered by software more and more.
And on Wednesday, Apple released one of the most exciting software design patterns.
What I’m referring to is the perfectly coined term, Dynamic Island.
Here’s a quick video, but we’ll come back to this.
The iteration of design
Design constantly needs to be refined. To solve new problems, new use cases, and new paradigms. Rarely can a design sit around for weeks, months, or years and not need to be updated.
Think about a website that doesn’t get updated. How long do you think it will feel relevant?
It’s been five years since Apple introduced the original notch at the top of the iPhone X. It was strange, rough around the edges, and simultaneously felt inevitable yet annoying. After all, they’re placing lenses and microphones into a device no thicker than the height of a pencil. They need somewhere new to go as our phones become slimmer, full-bleed displays.
The notch was controversial at first, but soon became a branded element that others tried to mimic. Even when Apple introduced the notch into its laptops, it attempted to blend hardware and software, fairly crudely in the beginning.
It’s remarkable how much has changed since June of 2007, but how incremental everything feels with each new phone upgrade. Iteration after iteration, much has changed, but progress feels slow.
These days, it takes a lot to stand out and make you say, “Holy shit, that’s amazing!”
But on Wednesday, I witnessed a “Holy shit!” moment.
The notch grew up
Dynamic Island is the name for a feature on the new iPhone 14 Pro that breathes life into a static hardware cutout, which we’ll call the ‘old notch.’
The old notch cutout you see on most recent iPhones and laptops serves as a way to maximize screen real estate while keeping the device as compact as possible.
It brings the sensors, cameras, and microphones down into the display to take up less room. But until now, it was a cutout that pushed things around beside it, like an annoying person on the middle seat of an airplane taking up both armrests.
But now with a new notch name, Dynamic Island starts to blend hardware and software in new ways we haven’t seen before.
The Dynamic Island now is a universal-level beacon for notifications, a visual feedback loop for FaceID, a snapshot into your turn-by-turn navigation, syncing AirPods, answering calls, and playing music.
Like all Web3 enthusiasts remark, “This is only the beginning.”
Dynamic Island is like a Head-Up Display (HUD) for your phone that defies normal touch user interface patterns like reachability. It’s one of those features that looks intuitive enough as if it should have been there all along. This is usually a strong signal that it has some staying power.
Unlike the discontinued TouchBar on an old MacbookPro, it never quite blended the software and hardware experience quite right. It felt clunky, unintuitive, and got in the way. It also felt useless for most applications.
The flexibility of Dynamic Island gives developers a lot to play with because there are many different ways to implement the core functionality of an app and not just surface-level notifications.
This is all a bit premature until we get to play with it, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this gets adopted into other hardware and potentially Apple’s unannounced AR/VR headset.
Admittedly, I’ve used a VR headset only once and threw it off after feeling dizzy after the first downturn of a rollercoaster ride.
Snagging the iPhone
After my work conference ended in 2007, I flew back from Las Vegas to Minneapolis the next day. After landing, I immediately asked a taxi driver to take me to the Mall of America.
He told me he had a few things he wanted to pick up there too, so we exchanged phone numbers, and I went to grab my first iPhone from the Apple Store, walking straight in to purchase it.
On my way home in the back of the cab, I pulled the cover off the box, turned on the phone, and slid the software unlock button to the right.
I thought to myself, “Holy shit.”
⚡️ Two creative hits for you to check out next
🍎 The Steve Jobs Archives
Launched by Steve’s family and friends, I hope they continue to add to this over time. The first email artifact is one Steve penned to himself in 2010, reminding him that he solely depends on others to survive.
👨💻 Some great Dynamic Island memes
👋 See you next Sunday
As always, my calendar is open to chat about your next adventure, crazy idea, or if you’re feeling creatively stuck.
My goal is to level up the visual vocabulary in the world through my writing, teaching, and design. If you want to support my journey, the best ways are to:
Learn the 80/20 of design and make better design decisions (and learn to use Figma!)
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Discover your visual style and build a personalized design kit by joining my live workshop waitlist
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Have a great week,
p.s. Words are just words, but if these words made you feel something, would you let me know by tapping on the heart below?
Wild that Apple is still able to keep surprises like this under wraps.
Dynamic Island is exactly the type of innovation that the recent phones were missing! It's exciting, beautiful to look at, and full of functionality. I'm due for a phone upgrade and this is the perfect excuse for it, but it annoys me that it's a feature exclusive to the "pro" models, while the regular 14 is really not much different than the one before... Obviously, they want more people to get used to spending more money and buying the Pro, but I think if the whole 14 line came with the dynamic island, it would be a real game changer! Curious to hear your thoughts...