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Pixel Pals put a kitten on my iPhone 14 Pro and I adore it

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The Dynamic Island — Apple’s re-envisioning of the notch — is among the hallmark options of the iPhone 14 Professional and iPhone 14 Professional Max. The morphing black bar is now a tiny house on your music, timers, incoming calls, and different system notifications. And since iOS 16.1 dropped in October, the Dynamic Island is now open for builders to do with it as they please.

It’ll take a while for all your favourite apps to faucet into the Island, however I’ve already discovered my favourite use for it. Because of an app referred to as Pixel Buddies, I now have a tiny, digital cat that’s at all times hanging out within the Dynamic Island after I’m utilizing my iPhone. It provides zero performance and affords zero utility — and I like it so, a lot.

How Pixel Buddies works

Have a look at my little man chasing his ball Joe Maring/Digital Traits

Getting began with Pixel Buddies is definitely fairly easy. Open the App Retailer in your iPhone, obtain the Pixel Buddies app, and that’s all there’s to it. If you open Pixel Buddies, you’ll see a small cat (named Hugo) hanging out on high of your Dynamic Island. You may as well change it to Rupert the canine, and you may pay for the premium model ($1.49/month or $10/yr) to unlock six different critters.

Tapping your Pixel Pal exhibits its age, weight, and 6 hearts you’ll be able to refill as you develop your relationship with it — one thing you do by feeding or enjoying video games collectively. I like giving Hugo fish (as a result of he deserves it), adopted by a brief recreation of beacon ball. Hugo normally takes a nap after such an enormous day, and I can’t blame him one bit.

Pixel Pals app on the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Joe Maring/Digital Traits

These are options developer Christian Selig additionally added to his Reddit consumer, Apollo. All of it really works simply as effectively right here, and it’s a sensible means to make use of the Dynamic Island with out truly utilizing the Dwell Actions API. However the place Apollo retains your digital floofs unique to the app, Pixel Buddies does use the API — letting you convey Pixel Buddies with you wherever you go in your iPhone.

From the Pixel Buddies app, faucet the toggle subsequent to At all times Present Pixel Pal. If you swipe as much as go house, your Pixel Pal flies contained in the Dynamic Island and retains hanging out with you on your private home display screen or in every other apps you utilize. You possibly can change what your Pixel Pal does within the Island — together with operating, sleeping, or simply chillin’ like a villain. And in the event you pay for Pixel Buddies Premium, you’ll be able to have two Pixel Buddies within the Dynamic Island directly.

What it’s like residing with a cat on my iPhone

Pixel Pals app running in the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Joe Maring/Digital Traits

So, what’s all of this truly like in every day use? Simply as lovable as you’d anticipate. Whether or not you’re scrolling by Twitter, footage on Reddit, or managing emails in Outlook, your Pixel Pal stays within the Dynamic Island all through all of it.

It doesn’t do something exterior of the animation you select, however I’m completely high quality with that. Merely having a pixelated kitten to come back together with me on my telephone is each enjoyable and calming in methods I didn’t anticipate. Responding to Microsoft Groups messages all through the day isn’t notably thrilling, however when I’ve Hugo to accompany me, it’s a considerably extra nice expertise.

Like different apps that use the Dynamic Island, you’ve a few methods to work together along with your Pixel Pal when it’s hanging out within the Island. Tapping your pet takes you again to the Pixel Buddies app, whereas urgent and holding exhibits a bigger view of your Pixel Pal, its identify, and shortcuts to feed and play with it. I want you would work together along with your Pixel Pal instantly within the Dynamic Island fairly than these shortcuts at all times redirecting you to the app, however that’s a limitation with Apple’s API fairly than the app itself.

There are a few different quirks to be aware of. Since Pixel Buddies makes use of the Dwell Actions API, you’ll see a small widget on your pet on the lock display screen at any time when the At all times Present Pixel Pal setting is enabled. Moreover, at any time when your Pixel Pal is hanging out within the Dynamic Island, it makes the Island a bit bigger than it usually is. They’re straightforward issues to regulate to, and a small value to pay for such a cute companion.

Extra of those Dynamic Island apps, please

An iPhone 14 Pro Max with the display turned on. We see the Home Screen and Pixel Pals running in the Dynamic Island.
Joe Maring/Digital Traits

There’s not way more to say about Pixel Buddies. It hasn’t radically modified my iPhone 14 Professional Max or added any further performance to it. However what Pixel Buddies lacks in practicality, it makes up for in strides with cuteness and whimsy. The Dynamic Island is a whimsical function by design, and Pixel Buddies absolutely embraces that in one of the simplest ways potential.

So most of the examples we’ve seen for Dwell Actions/Dynamic Island have been very information-focused — journey knowledge for an Uber trip, updates in your Starbucks order, stay scores for a soccer recreation, and so on. These are objectively extra helpful implementations of the Dynamic Island, and issues I’m very a lot wanting ahead to utilizing as extra devs/apps assist the function.

However Pixel Buddies additionally exhibits the enjoyable facet of the Dynamic Island, and it’s one I hope to see extra of sooner or later. Telephones are purported to be enjoyable, and Pixel Buddies with the Dynamic Island is a primary instance of how that’s nonetheless potential in 2022.

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