Dynamic Island was Apple’s attempt to seamlessly transition between software and hardware. The island has its own dedicated animations, physics, compatibility with live activities and much more.
With the release of iOS 16.1 we now have dedicated gestures to manage activities in Dynamic Island. If you haven’t been able to switch or close multiple activities in your dynamic island, we have the perfect guide for you. Here’s everything you need to know about managing activities on your dynamic island using special gestures.
Related: How to enable Dynamic Island on your iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max
How to enable, disable and manage activities in Dynamic Island
Here are all the gestures you can use to close, expand, and manage background activities in your dynamic island. Keep in mind that your iPhone 14 Pro or later must be running iOS 16.1 or later to use these gestures. Once you’ve updated your device, use one of the following sections to manage activity on your dynamic island.
Part 1: Gestures to manage individual activities
Individual activities are fairly easy to manage in Dynamic Island as the only option for you is to either hide them or show them in the expanded state. Here’s how you can do that on your iPhone 14 Pro or later.
Note: Certain Dynamic Island activities such as navigation, hotspot, screen recording and more cannot be closed or hidden due to their priority. We encourage you to keep this in mind when attempting to use gestures in such activities.
Start a compatible Dynamic Island activity on your iPhone, then close the app. For this example, let’s start a timer.
Now swiping into your dynamic island from both directions will end the activity.
To restore activity to your dynamic island, swipe outwards either left, right, or down.
Also, tap and hold the activity to see an expanded view and additional controls for the ongoing activity. This gesture only works if the activity is visible in your dynamic island.
And this is how you can use gestures to manage individual activities in your Dynamic Island.
Related: How to get Pixel Pals on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max
Part 2: Gestures to Manage Multiple Activities
Multiple activities will appear as primary and secondary activities on your dynamic island. You can then use these gestures to close and manage these activities in your dynamic island. For this example, let’s look at the currently playing music and a running timer.
As you can see, iOS has made playing music the primary activity and the timer the secondary activity. Tap and hold an activity to reveal additional controls like playback and timer controls.
Secondly, swipe the primary activity onto your secondary activity to hide the primary activity and make your secondary activity the primary activity. As you can see, this gesture can also be used to switch between activities.
Next, from your secondary activity, which is now primary, swipe both ways to restore the hidden activity.
Similarly, swipe from your secondary activity to your primary activity to hide the secondary activity. As you can see, the timer is now hidden because playback media is only available on the dynamic island now.
Additionally, if you use any of the gestures above to hide the primary or secondary activity, you can swipe in again to hide all activities. As you can see, there is no activity displayed on the island, but the timer and music are playing in the background.
You can use the swipe gesture in both directions to restore hidden activities in this state.
And that’s it! Here’s how you can use the new gestures in iOS 16.1 and later to manage multiple activities on your Dynamic Island.
Related: Apple Dynamic Island: Multi-App Support Explained!
How to hide an app or activity in Dynamic Island
You can hide activities in Dynamic Island at any time with the swipe gesture. If there is a single ongoing activity on your dynamic island, swipe in from both directions to hide the activity.
If you have multiple activities running on your dynamic island, use the swipe gesture on your secondary activity to hide it.
Then use the swipe gesture on your primary activity to hide them as well.
You can use these gestures to hide and close activities from Dynamic Island at any time, regardless of the number of live activities currently running on your iPhone.
Why can’t you hide or switch certain activities?
Certain live activities like Face ID, Personal Hotspots, navigation and more are prioritized by iOS because of the nature of what most users need to access in real-time. Therefore, you cannot hide and hide such activities from your dynamic island, nor can you switch them to the secondary activity in case you use navigation, screen recording, voice memo recording, and more. During our testing, we found the following activities that you cannot close from Dynamic Island.
- Navigational Warnings
- screen capture
- Voice memo recording
- Personal hotspot (can switch to secondary)
- AirDrop transfers
- SharePlay controls
What happens if you run more than two activities in the background?
Unfortunately, in such cases, you can only switch between two activities using gestures. This can still be used when accessing activities that you can’t dismiss, like navigation and screen recording, but it can get extremely annoying with rejectable activities. In our testing, regardless of the gesture used, once you’ve closed your first activity, you can only use gestures to switch and close your second and third activities.
You must use the dedicated app to access the first background activity and control it as needed on your iPhone. Dynamic Island gestures were recently introduced in iOS 16.1 and Apple has yet to release official documentation on these gestures.
This leads us to believe that these gestures are still under development and will likely change and improve with future releases, which should also help improve the way you manage more than two activities in Dynamic Island .
We hope this post helped you to easily get acquainted with Dynamic Island’s gestures to manage activities on your iPhone. If you encounter any problems or have any other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.