Love it or hate it or simply ignore it, Apple’s iPhone has a noticeable notch at the top of the screen and it is not likely to go away soon. Apple embraced the Notch because it provides much needed functionality.
Notch also gives iPhone X users a place to look to unlock the phone because that’s where Apple put the TrueDepth camera and Face ID sensor array. That hasn’t stopped critics and customers from voicing opinions and a few have come up with a good solution to hide the Notch.
It’s Just Software
There’s an old adage in the technology industry which describes that pretty much anything can be accomplished on various devices because “it’s all just software.” Maybe so, maybe not, but the Notch on iPhone X is hardware. How do you fix a hardware design after a device ships?
In this case, the fix is software, more specifically the Notcho wallpaper app. Sweet. Free. But there’s a better way.
See how it works?
Basically, Notcho is an app that installs a wallpaper image specifically designed for iPhone. The Notch is black. The horns, or ears, to the left and right of the Notch are visible through wallpaper and contain some useful icons. Time, Wi-Fi and cellphone signal strength, and battery.
For wallpaper and lockscreen background, Notcho simply installs wallpaper that matches the black Notch itself. The Notch, indeed, iPhone X’s front bezels are black on both the Space Gray and Silver models. Notcho puts a black background behind the horns or ears next to the Notch.
Clever, right? If the Notch bothers you, Notcho is an almost free way to get rid of the unsightly sensors and camera array. Almost? First, Notcho comes with a watermark and to get rid of it requires an in-app purchase of $1.99. Second, Notcho does not blend the horns or ears into the background left and right of the Notch within whatever app you’re using at the moment.
There are two ways the Notch can be blended without Notcho or the wallpaper approach.
First, Apple could do it simply by setting Notch as a toggle switch in Setting. The On settings means the Notch is visible, including the right and left side status horns (or ears). The Off settings means the status horn’s background becomes black to match the Notch on iPhone X (Notcho appears to work on other iOS devices, too, even without a Notch– it’s just wallpaper).
Easy peasy, right?
Except Apple loves the Notch, embraced the Notch, even advertises and promotes the Notch, so unless iPhone X sales are hurt by the Notch design, Apple won’t give customers a toggle switch in Settings.
Second, with some help from Apple, app developers could insert their own Notch concealer as a similar toggle switch in the app’s settings, but on an app by app basis. As it stands now, Apple’s own Human Interface Guidelines for iPhone X to avoid mucking around with the Notch area and the status bar area. They are off limits. Kinda sorta mostly.
Don’t mask or call special attention to key display features. Don’t attempt to hide the device’s rounded corners, sensor housing, or indicator for accessing the Home screen by placing black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. Don’t use visual adornments like brackets, bezels, shapes, or instructional text to call special attention to these areas, either.
But Apple also tells app developers to:
Provide a full-screen experience. Make sure backgrounds extend to the edges of the display, and that vertically scrollable layouts, like tables and collections, continue all the way to the bottom.
All an app developer would need to do is to set an edge-to-edge background image behind the Notch and across the horns to match the Notch itself. You know, to be more like Samsung.
Notch problem solved.
Will it happen? Nope. At least, no, I don’t think so. Apple could and should provide such a toggle so the horns or ears blend with the black Notch. App developers could do something similar– without Apple’s permission, of course– but it is unlikely all developers would go to the extra effort and insert a similar app-by-app toggle.
It would be nice to have a choice.