iMovie gains haptic feedback on Apple's new Force Touch trackpads

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited March 2015
iMovie has become the first of Apple's apps to receive support for haptic feedback via the new Force Touch trackpad, providing a glimpse of Apple's plans for the technology.




Haptic feedback is enabled in three situations: when dragging a video clip to its maximum length, snapping a title to the beginning or end of a video clip, and when snapping to alignment guides during video cropping. The changes, which were first noticed by Final Cut blogger Alex Gollner, came as part of the iMovie 10.0.7 update released earlier in March.

AppleInsider tested out the new functionality on Apple's latest 13-inch MacBook Pro, and found it well executed. The sensation is completely different from the feeling of a click --?instead, it feels more like a small tap directly on the tip of the finger.

This addition suggests that Apple may be preparing a wider rollout of haptic feedback across OS X. Given its prominence in the Apple Watch and subsequent migration to the Mac, it also seems likely to reach iOS devices in the future.

We took a first look at the new Force Touch trackpad earlier this week, and found it to be a tour de force of engineering and an excellent addition to the Mac. The user experience is virtually unchanged from older trackpads, and the versatility of its haptic feedback mechanism is proving to be more useful than imagined.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    magic_almagic_al Posts: 325member
    What are the limits? Could an app do text to Braille with this?
  • Reply 2 of 9
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,546member
    Haptic feedback in Magic Mouse, please!
  • Reply 3 of 9
    bro2mabro2ma Posts: 35member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post



    What are the limits? Could an app do text to Braille with this?



    It is a vibration, just different types/durations to give a different feeling. No Braille. That would be later on.

  • Reply 4 of 9
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bro2ma View Post

     



    It is a vibration, just different types/durations to give a different feeling. No Braille. That would be later on.


    That's exactly how braille can be done.

  • Reply 5 of 9
    bro2mabro2ma Posts: 35member
    That's exactly how braille can be done.

    True. You just need multiple vibration points in the correct locations, and high enough resolution, which doesn't seem like that's ehat Apple did, judging by the pictures I saw.
  • Reply 6 of 9
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,337member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post



    What are the limits? Could an app do text to Braille with this?

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bro2ma View Post



    You just need multiple vibration points in the correct locations, and high enough resolution, which doesn't seem like that's ehat Apple did, judging by the pictures I saw.



    The pictured diagram indicates that the Apple haptic feedback system is basically diffused through the entire trackpad surface rather than localized to small discrete regions.

     

    The design and materials would have to be vastly modified to support a refreshable Braille display. Current Braille technology uses a strip of rounded pins in a grid configuration (six or sometimes eight pins per character/cell) that poke up (electro-mechanically) as required. MacBook trackpads are hard glass; in order to support Braille display, the material would have to change to something flexible, and the haptic feedback sensors would have to be miniaturized and packed dense enough to to replicate Braille display pins.

     

    I'm not convinced that there is a commercially viable general usage case for a flexible trackpad surface with a dense haptic feedback array, at least not today. There might be some prototype in a lab somewhere in Cupertino, but it likely would not be considered a viable part due to availability, component price, yield, power efficiency, and a host of other reasons.

     

    If Apple wanted to improve the usability of its Macs for vision impaired users, they would likely focus on software improvements that make screen reading software work more effectively.

     

    A fast Braille reader can read at a fairly good clip, but the refreshable Braille display needs to be wide enough to accommodate the fingers of both hands. MacBook trackpads (or even the Magic Trackpad) are too narrow for two-handed use, which is what fast Braille readers use.

  • Reply 7 of 9
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member
    I'm liking this direction, haptic provides a depth to the UI that can greatly simplify some software interactions.

    I think the most interesting part of this (and similar in the watch from what I've read so far) is that the sensation feels like a tap and not a little vibration. Notices that feel like a gentle tap on the wrist (watch) or the finger tip (OSX) seem like a much more natural way of using a computer.
  • Reply 8 of 9
    neasenease Posts: 1member

    I'm interested in seeing how this could feed into Apple's other devices. Haptic feedback on the Magic Trackpad is something that just makes sense. It could make typing on an iphone or iPad much nicer in the future. If the digital keys on the screen actually felt like keys when you typed, it's possible you could type without looking at your fingers like with a physical keyboard. I know others have tried haptic feedback in this way, but I'm sure the tech has evolved a lot since then.

  • Reply 9 of 9
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,156moderator
    nease wrote: »
    It could make typing on an iphone or iPad much nicer in the future. If the digital keys on the screen actually felt like keys when you typed, it's possible you could type without looking at your fingers like with a physical keyboard. I know others have tried haptic feedback in this way, but I'm sure the tech has evolved a lot since then.

    Multi-input applications like the iPad keyboard would be a bit trickier with just a single haptic unit. If you pressed 2 keys in close timing to each other, it would have to be able to click twice quickly so it didn't seem unnatural. The software keyboard can also be oriented 4 ways so the position of the motor would be important and might make the sensation feel different depending on the orientation.

    It also couldn't push the vibration on the back of the display panel because it could distort the image. It would have to be something like a ring of small electromagnets around the edge of the display panel. Maybe each switch about half the width of a finger so ~50-100 switches around the perimeter. When you press a finger on the display, it would fire the 4 edge switches that corresponded to that location at different intensities.

    There's another type of feedback in the form of friction:


    [VIDEO]


    That sort of thing would let you feel the edges of keys or UI controls and a force-touch pressure sensor plus vibrational feedback would let you feel the press. This would let a software keyboard behave like a hardware keyboard as you can rest your fingers on the keys without pressing them. But it would know which keys you're about to press so would be faster at determining spelling errors and producing autocomplete suggestions and stop you before clicking the wrong button and having to delete it. The frictional feedback would be good for the blind because in Safari, they could feel the edges of the search box and all the buttons.
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