Apple clearly knows a thing or two about design, and the year after year release of premium iPhone hardware has earned it the top spot as a trendsetter in the smartphone industry. Think: When the company stopped manufacturing the headphone jack, we saw almost every major Android maker rushing to follow suit. From time to time though, things go the other way and Android phones end up setting the bar for iPhone features. Brands like Samsung have dropped the notch in favor of perforated circular cutouts for their front-facing cameras. Apple may be fashionably lagging behind this trend, with the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max only switching to a pill-shaped cutout called Dynamic Island this month, but boy, does it still manage to leave a good impression. Android developers were quick to try to replicate the software side of Apple’s implementation, and today we’re checking out how an app called dynamicSpot manages to bring the Dynamic Island experience to Android.
Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro definitely sounds like a fitting name for what we get: the rectangular pill-shaped cutout in the display surrounding the selfie camera and the Face ID hardware floats there like an island in a sea of pixels. When you tap a notification in the pill, it responds by animating and changing its size, creating the illusion that the pill-shaped cutout physically expands (helping to contain indicators for notification icons, ongoing background tasks and alerts arriving). These effects are a visual treat on OLED displays used by iPhones (not to mention dozens of Android devices, both mid-range and flagship), as they are capable of achieving significantly deeper blacks than you would on an LCD.
Last week, theme developers showed what a dynamic island might look like on a Xiaomi phone. While promising, that was also a device-specific solution for a company, and the last time we checked, the theme was still pending approval. But XDA developers have managed to spot a new early access app called dynamicSpot, and after taking a look at it, this could be the perfect solution if you crave the Dynamic Island visual experience on Android phones and especially those. with center-aligned perforated cameras like the Google Pixel 6 series or Samsung Galaxy S22. The app is the brainchild of developer Jawomo, also known for their Bixby button remapping app and notification app for OnePlus phones.
Once installed, the lightweight app creates a pill-shaped black bar surrounding the screen camera cutout with icons for notifications. You can make the island bigger with a long tap on the pill, while a short tap connects you to the notification app. If it sounds to you backwards, a little IAP lets you switch those interactions around. As you would any other notification on Android, you can swipe to ignore and if the pill disappears before accessing the alert, simply open your trusty notification screen.
To get started with dynamicSpot, you’ll need to grant it permission to read notifications and draw on other apps. We also suggest that you turn off the power saving restrictions, so that the process is not interrupted in the background. The developer notes that the app doesn’t connect to the internet itself, which sounds good for privacy, but the absence of other permissions, such as Bluetooth and GPS, means it loses the ability to see alerts when Bluetooth devices connect: a feature seen on the iPhone 14 Pro.
For an app still in early access, dynamicSpot is already quite capable. It supports notifications for all installed apps, complete with granular controls for each and quick action buttons for some of them.
The clean UI of the personalization app has a toggle to toggle the notification island on or off, as well as settings that let you change its vertical position, width, and height, so that it aligns perfectly with your own hole punch camera. There’s also a handy test button, so you don’t have to wait for a friend to ping you just to see what your notifications will look like. What the app doesn’t have is any kind of slider to adjust the horizontal island location, so it doesn’t support phones with selfie-cam cutouts in the corner, like OnePlus Nord 2.
If you collect the small fee for the Pro version, you can check how long the pill stays after a notification arrives, as well as how the island behaves when the screen is off. You can also unblock alerts 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 span, dynamicSpot already offers an impressive level of refinement. However, we understand that this is a beta in development and users can expect some hiccups as they upgrade. For example, you’ll see notification popups next to the pill icons at first, creating a duplicate, but the remedy is simple: disable mobile notifications for installed apps. You’ll probably want to set this up manually, as while dynamicSpot has a switch to do it for you, it’s another Pro feature with paywall (plus, it doesn’t seem to work).
Mobile notification must be disabled if you want to use the pill alone
Other minor drawbacks include incorrect media duration being displayed on both sides of the playback progress bar, no quick action buttons for some notifications, and incorrect system time and date displayed in the charge indicator.
Importantly, returning to the phone’s home screen does not minimize an app running on the island, one of the biggest behavioral changes that differs from Apple’s implementation. It would be nice if we saw apps like this benefit from tighter integration with Android launchers like Nova Launcher, because they control app launch animations. We wouldn’t be surprised if the developers behind the emerging launchers integrated some sort of island-style functionality into their apps.
It would be unfair to expect iPhone island-level dynamism and sophistication from Android imitations developed within a week or two, but apps like this are already on the trajectory to become the go-to theme and customization enthusiast for an iOS-style look on a balance. The developer promises to add more custom animations, interactions, and improve app support, but we hope they fix minor issues as well. If you liked how this all sounds and are interested in giving it a spin, you just need an Android device to install dynamicSpot on that has an OLED display and all the best Android phones have one.