New iPhones' 3D Touch a complicated effort that took 'multi, multi, multi' years, Apple says

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 2015
One of the central features of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, 3D Touch, was long in development and an extremely difficult technologically to get right, according to an interview with key Apple executives published on Wednesday.




The project was underway for "multi, multi, multi years," chief design officer Jonathan Ive told Bloomberg Businessweek. The company's senior VP of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, commented that engineering the hardware to make a display with something like with 3D Touch is "unbelievably hard."

The exact origins of 3D Touch are forgotten, but designers were reportedly exploring the concept of creating "shortcuts" from one function to another on an iPhone, dictated by the amount of pressure someone used on a touch display. Apple's senior VP of software engineering, Craig Federighi, explained that it was only once the company found a design it liked that it began considering how hard engineering it would be.

Some of the hurdles included dealing with the circumstances under which a person might be using 3D Touch. The result is that the feature has been built to detect both fingers and thumbs, and use accelerometers to cancel out the effects of gravity whether a person is walking or laying down, or an iPhone is tilted at odd angles.

The new iPhones sport bendable glass developed through a partnership with Corning, and 96 sensors embedded in the LCD's backlight that register each flex as a function of distance. Small vibrations from Apple's Taptic Engine are used to confirm when a press is successful.

At the moment, the 6s and 6s Plus are the only devices with 3D Touch, an evolution of the Force Touch technology used in the Apple Watch and recent MacBooks. The phones are due to ship on Sept. 25, following a preorder campaign starting Sept. 12.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 80
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    An Englishman who cannot speak English. Translation: several years.
  • Reply 2 of 80
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,814member
    They should've innovated faster. /s
  • Reply 3 of 80
    cwscws Posts: 59member
    Along with a truly functional fingerprint sensor, this represents another major usability feature that competitors just CANNOT duplicate, further differentiating the iPhone from copycats.
  • Reply 4 of 80
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I just saw a Bloomberg video about the new iPad and Om Malik said 3D Touch and Pencil (which he kept referring to as a stylus) are signs of a mediocre Apple going backwards. Thankfully Ben Bajarin and Horace Dediu were also on the panel as they both disagreed. Honestly I don't get the negativity. Both the Pencil and and 3D Touch look awesome and all the early hands on reviews I've read suggest they work really well. They definitely seem like things Apple nailed in terms of execution.
  • Reply 5 of 80
    After the competition gets their hands on the phones, they'll have it copied in multi, multi, multi months.
  • Reply 6 of 80
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,019member
    cws wrote: »
    Along with a truly functional fingerprint sensor, this represents another major usability feature that competitors just CANNOT duplicate, further differentiating the iPhone from copycats.
    wrong, Samsung will have it in Galaxy S6 and S6Edge Edition version by the end of this year and fully incorporate it into GS7 in Feb 2016...yup.
  • Reply 7 of 80
    Good, because the implementation of Force Touch on the Apple Watch is confusing and not user friendly. I haven't tried WatchOS 2 yet, though, so possibly they have addressed the issues I have with it.
  • Reply 8 of 80
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,316member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I just saw a Bloomberg video about the new iPad and Om Malik said 3D Touch and Pencil (which he kept referring to as a stylus) are signs of a mediocre Apple going backwards. Thankfully Ben Bajarin and Horace Dediu were also on the panel as they both disagreed. Honestly I don't get the negativity. Both the Pencil and and 3D Touch look awesome and all the early hands on reviews I've read suggest they work really well. They definitely seem like things Apple nailed in terms of execution.

     

    Hmm...

     

    Quote:


     During the keynote, Apple execs talked a lot about how difficult this screen was to create—but you’d never know. It’s smooth and fast; in fact, every part of the iPad Pro is smooth and fast. The $99 Pencil stylus feels like a particular triumph: It is, bar none, the most fluid and lag-free stylus I’ve ever used. The big, white cylinder is downright fancy; it feels like you should use it for calligraphy or signing the Declaration of Independence. But whether I was marking up an email in Mail, or doodling in Notes, it worked just incredibly well.


     

    Yeah, what a mediocre fucking disappointment. The thing abut naysayers is that they don't even have the imagination to state what features Apple SHOULD have added instead, let alone executing them or assessing their practicality.  

  • Reply 9 of 80
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    OK somebody help me out here. The tech press raved about the Microsoft Surface and it's pressure sensitive stylus capabilities. Now Apple releases one for the iPad and it's the butt of jokes and something Steve Jobs would have hated. I know in many cases it's just trolling but come on, there's a big difference between needing a stylus to navigate the OS and using a stylus for precision writing and drawing.
  • Reply 10 of 80
    Great. Now let's get 3D Touch on the iPads.
  • Reply 11 of 80
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,316member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    OK somebody help me out here. The tech press raved about the Microsoft Surface and it's pressure sensitive stylus capabilities. Now Apple releases one for the iPad and it's the butt of jokes and something Steve Jobs would have hated. I know in many cases it's just trolling but come on, there's a big difference between needing a stylus to navigate the OS and using a stylus for precision writing and drawing.

     

    Because these things are said by either morons, or intellectually dishonest trolls, who don't fucking understand the difference between Jobs criticizing the fact that styluses were REQUIRED for input at the time, and an optional, additional accessory that is not required for ANYTHING, beside what you would do on a Wacom tablet. 

  • Reply 12 of 80
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,316member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SteveJay27 View Post



    Great. Now let's get 3D Touch on the iPads.

     

    It was shown off on a new device like 5 seconds ago. Relax. 

  • Reply 13 of 80
    Only saw it on phones, not pads.
  • Reply 14 of 80
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fallenjt View Post





    wrong, Samsung will have it in Galaxy S6 and S6Edge Edition version by the end of this year and fully incorporate it into GS7 in Feb 2016...yup.

     

    I'm honestly not sure if they would or not. The functionality offered (Hover, light taps, hard taps, drag vs skim) exists in the Note series since the 3, but whilst it's damn useful I don't see a finger performing as well in the same way as a pen would. I'd have to use it to be certain, but I think in this instance Samsung's implementation of it is already pretty good. Making it more iPhone-like (as they did with the note 5/S6 - both terrible phones) would be a detriment to what the series offers.

     

    And to the people nay-saying Styluses, have you used them? On every phone I've had with one, they're optional so it's not like it actually affects your usage if you don't like them - but I think they're fantastic. They're much more accurate than a finger, they make web browsing and navigation a dream. I suppose ironically, writing is about the only functionality of them I dislike.

  • Reply 15 of 80
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I just saw a Bloomberg video about the new iPad and Om Malik said 3D Touch and Pencil (which he kept referring to as a stylus) are signs of a mediocre Apple going backwards. Thankfully Ben Bajarin and Horace Dediu were also on the panel as they both disagreed. Honestly I don't get the negativity. Both the Pencil and and 3D Touch look awesome and all the early hands on reviews I've read suggest they work really well. They definitely seem like things Apple nailed in terms of execution.

    I don't agree with Om's take but at the very least, I can tolerate the guy.  Leo Laporte, OTOH, what a moron.

  • Reply 16 of 80
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MAJANI View Post

     

    And to the people nay-saying Styluses, have you used them? On every phone I've had with one, they're optional so it's not like it actually affects your usage if you don't like them - but I think they're fantastic. They're much more accurate than a finger, they make web browsing and navigation a dream. I suppose ironically, writing is about the only functionality of them I dislike.


     

    A stylus with a phone?  Why?  How on earth does it make web browsing a dream?

  • Reply 17 of 80
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

     

     

    A stylus with a phone?  Why?  How on earth does it make web browsing a dream?


     

    I've just always found it more fluid and accurate. The ability to hold a phone in one hand, pen in the other and navigate using the touch of that. Makes it more accuracy, especially on sites not designed for mobiles or sites with lots of links very close together. Hover-over functionality of the style mimicking mouse hovers on a regular computer, also make the stylus fantastic in my eyes. Copy/paste highlighting, click-drag scrolling on long web pages, the ability to see URLs before clicking them... it's a lot of little, non-essential things that add up to make a very functional device.

  • Reply 18 of 80
    misamisa Posts: 827member
    slurpy wrote: »
    Hmm...


    Yeah, what a mediocre fucking disappointment. The thing abut naysayers is that they don't even have the imagination to state what features Apple SHOULD have added instead, let alone executing them or assessing their practicality.  

    I think what everyone missed about Steve Jobs reasoning about larger (or smaller) tablets and stylus is that "the device shouldn't REQUIRE a stylus to do anything." Hence it's optional. Anyone who has used a resistive touch screen can tell you how much styluses suck (eg old PDA's, DS/DSi/3DS/Wii U,) because of how imprecise they are, and if you lise the stylus, you have to use your fingers anyway, resulting in making the device much harder to use.

    So in terms of how and why the stylus, it's for drawing/art. It's not a 99 cent pokey-stick like what the game consoles and old PDA's have. This is what Artists have been begging Apple to do for quite a while. How well it will work will depend on Adobe putting a full version of Photoshop/Illustrator on the iPad Pro, and software like Clip Studio Paint (AKA Manga Studio) being made available on the device. Right now, your only option is paying highway-robbery prices for a Cintiq (monitor only) or Cintiq companion (tablet), and alternatives have been extremely lackluster, few and far between.

    As for sizes.... the mini is likely too small and not meant to do this. A stylus is usable on anything 9" or larger since the smallest Wacom tablet is roughly that.
  • Reply 19 of 80
    Was it really worth it (multi years) if long touch is an alternative you could use on existing hardware?
  • Reply 20 of 80
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I'm listening to the ATP live podcast right now and the cynicism from the team, especially Marco Arment is over the top. Marco thinks the new ?Watch color options are a sign the product is failing and Apple is doing this to try and juice sales. He thinks the new iPad Pro is a confused product that's too big. Every comment from him is whine whine whine. Thankfully John Siracusa is a bit more optimistic. But damn it's annoying when someone pisses all over a product they haven't spent one second with.

    Oh one tidbit as I was typing this...Casey Liss says he's heard the iPad Pro ships with 4GB RAM. If true that's awesome.
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