Force Touch gets redefined in the iPhone 6s with 3D Touch

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 2015
Apple brought depth to its user interfaces with Force Touch, and Wednesday's launch of the iPhone 6s added another layer in the form of 3D Touch. AppleInsider looks at how it works and what you can do with it.




Up front, it's important to clarify that while the technology underpinning 3D Touch is different from that powering the Apple Watch's Force Touch --?which in turn diverges significantly from the MacBook's Force Touch implementation --?the effect is the same. Sensors within the display assembly determine how hard the user is pressing on the screen, and trigger various software routines at predefined force thresholds.

On the Apple Watch, this simulates a "deeper" press that reveals hidden UI elements --?and not much else. It's more nuanced on the MacBook, where varying pressure on the trackpad will let users scrub faster or slower through QuickTime videos, for example.

On the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with 3D Touch, it does all of those things.

In apps, pressing lightly triggers an action that Apple calls a "peek." This has slightly different implementations in different applications and contexts, but the end result is always a way to quickly review and act on the thing you've pressed.

Take the built-in Mail app, for instance. Lightly pressing and holding on a message will trigger a new, temporary window on top of your inbox that shows the content of the message --?removing your finger will close it.




Once you've peeked, you can press harder to "pop." In our mail example, pressing more forcefully would open the message normally, as though you'd simply tapped on it in the inbox.

You can take advantage of this peek-and-pop paradigm throughout iOS. Peek an address to preview its location; pop to open it in Maps. Peek a photo to preview it; pop to open it for editing or sharing.

Third-party developers can add support for it as well --?Instagram showed off a new 3D Touch-reach version during Wednesday's event that lets users peek at photos and pop to like them.


Apple designed the peek and the pop to make every day activities faster, and to that end they've also provided something they call "quick actions." Used with peeks, quick actions are gesture- and button-based shortcuts that let you do stuff with the thing you're looking at.

Back to our Mail example again, once you've peeked at a message, you can send it to the trash by swiping left, or mark it as unread by swiping right. In Safari, you can peek at a link and then swipe up to reveal buttons that let you copy the link or open it in a new tab.

Quick actions aren't just for peek and pop, though --?they also work on the home screen. Developers can define shortcut menus that appear when you press an app icon, so you can quickly open the Camera app with the selfie cam enabled or start playing Beats 1 without opening the Music app.

Of course, 3D Touch isn't limited to just three pressure levels. Just like Force Touch on the MacBook, apps can take advantage of pressure sensitivity for things like drawing or scrubbing through videos.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    To my non-engineer eye that sort of screams "nightmare to assemble".

    Maybe why the rumor had Apple pre-ordering a humungous number of units this time around?
  • Reply 2 of 20
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I'm very excited about 3D Touch. And screw all the techies and their "learning curve" nonsense. We're much smarter than they give us credit for. Engadget said 3D Touch was "completely natural". I think we'll all be able to figure it out and once we do we won't want to go back to another device that doesn't have it (yes I'm looking at you iPad Air 2).
  • Reply 3 of 20
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,496member
    You know, for a company like Apple it took years to come up with such 3D force technology and someone reply to my post on other web site said, Huawei introduced phone with forced touch. I tell you these Chinese will put out any tach crap fast soon as they hear possibly apple or Samsung is working on XYZ through their supply channels and these guys just put together whatever and throw at market at cheaper and call it we got too. But, it hardly work right. They also hack and steal lots of other countries/compnaies technology and future plan and copy them and sell at cheap because they didn't spend on development.
    Seems prejudice statement but you have to be more careful, afraid of Chinese than Russians USA fought during cold war.
  • Reply 4 of 20
    " do we won't want to go back to another device that doesn't have it (yes I'm looking at you iPad Air 2)."

    I don't think the iPad lacking it is as big of a deal because it has things like the trayed multitasking now and already had gestures for swapping apps and stuff. Much of the 3D touch on the phone is adding what the iPhone can't do with multitouch due to smaller screen size.
  • Reply 5 of 20
    I'm enjoying all the talk on other forums saying "[I]this is just a long press... wtf... no innovation[/I]..."

    Clueless... and hilarious :D
  • Reply 6 of 20
    wood1208 wrote: »
    You know, for a company like Apple it took years to come up with such 3D force technology and someone reply to my post on other web site said, Huawei introduced phone with forced touch. […]

    Forced is apropos here. For those that say Huawei was the first to announce it in a phone, I say, So what?! Apple clearly had this technology conceived, built in HW and SW, and implemented in Watch before Huawei had anything. If Apple had no history of adapting an idea in one area to work in another then it could be up for debate, but Force Touch in an iDevice was the first thing everyone thought about when they saw in Watch. I'd also like it to arrive in the future Macs.

    But let's see how Huawei does with their copycat implementation. My guess is that it will mirror most other me-too features that are pushed to customers without any real consideration for usability or convenience.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,343member
    What strikes me is that this "S" series of iPhones is the rather massive update and this is just one feature that makes that obvious. Makes you wonder about iPhone 7.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,236member

    Tried out the similar 3D/Force Touch features in the OS X El Capitan GM today using my MacBook Pro (with Force Touch trackpad) and it works really well.  Looking forward to seeing it on an iPhone.

  • Reply 9 of 20
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,035member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post



    What strikes me is that this "S" series of iPhones is the rather massive update and this is just one feature that makes that obvious. Makes you wonder about iPhone 7.

     

    It's been this way pretty much every "s" generation. The 3GS was an entirely new phone, except for case and display. Same with the 4S and 5s. 



    The 7 will basically be an iPhone 6s in a new design. 

  • Reply 10 of 20
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I'm very excited about 3D Touch. And screw all the techies and their "learning curve" nonsense. We're much smarter than they give us credit for. Engadget said 3D Touch was "completely natural". I think we'll all be able to figure it out and once we do we won't want to go back to another device that doesn't have it (yes I'm looking at you iPad Air 2).



    Yeah learning curve doesn't make much sense, it will take a little bit of time to explore how it works because if I read everything correctly it will also work within apps so every app will be a little different. Also all the normal swipe and pinch functions will still work, not like they have been taken away. 

  • Reply 11 of 20
    solipsismy wrote: »
    Forced is apropos here. For those that say Huawei was the first to announce it in a phone, I say, So what?! Apple clearly had this technology conceived, built in HW and SW, and implemented in Watch before Huawei had anything. If Apple had no history of adapting an idea in one area to work in another then it could be up for debate, but Force Touch in an iDevice was the first thing everyone thought about when they saw in Watch. I'd also like it to arrive in the future Macs.

    But let's see how Huawei does with their copycat implementation. My guess is that it will mirror most other me-too features that are pushed to customers without any real consideration for usability or convenience.

    Someone else may have already responded to your post. Huawei rushed out a limited number of sapphire display phones last year to "beat" Apple. When Apple did not have a sapphire display, Huawei stopped the sapphire display. Huawei rushed out a Force Touch technology this year and the Android crowd is ecstatic about it. What is funny about this is the Android crowd is not cheering Samsung anymore now that it has imploded. Huawei will not mass produce its Force Touch displays. The cost of doing so will become unacceptable to the company. And like ALL Android manufacturers, especially Google, Force Touch will be remembered as a footnote when Apple is discussed. Remember the Android press touting Motorola's fingerprint sensor when Touch ID arrived? And, how Google blamed Apple when Google did not get a fingerprint sensor in its Nexus device?
  • Reply 12 of 20
    derekson wrote: »
    " do we won't want to go back to another device that doesn't have it (yes I'm looking at you iPad Air 2)."

    I don't think the iPad lacking it is as big of a deal because it has things like the trayed multitasking now and already had gestures for swapping apps and stuff. Much of the 3D touch on the phone is adding what the iPhone can't do with multitouch due to smaller screen size.

    The MacBook doesn't have it either. Nor does the iMac, Mac Pro, or AppleTV.

    I think it's fine if the iPad and iPhone user experiences began to diverge, and function in more specialized ways fitting to the form factor and intended purpose. It's ok if the iPad Pro wasn't just a "giant iPod Touch."
  • Reply 13 of 20
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Someone else may have already responded to your post. Huawei rushed out a limited number of sapphire display phones last year to "beat" Apple. When Apple did not have a sapphire display, Huawei stopped the sapphire display. Huawei rushed out a Force Touch technology this year and the Android crowd is ecstatic about it. What is funny about this is the Android crowd is not cheering Samsung anymore now that it has imploded. Huawei will not mass produce its Force Touch displays. The cost of doing so will become unacceptable to the company. And like ALL Android manufacturers, especially Google, Force Touch will be remembered as a footnote when Apple is discussed. Remember the Android press touting Motorola's fingerprint sensor when Touch ID arrived? And, how Google blamed Apple when Google did not get a fingerprint sensor in its Nexus device?

    Does Android M support "force touch"? If not then is Huawei doing some sort of a hack or do they have their own software and you're not running stock Android on their devices?
  • Reply 14 of 20
    rogifan wrote: »
    Does Android M support "force touch"? If not then is Huawei doing some sort of a hack or do they have their own software and you're not running stock Android on their devices?

    I looked at the force touch demos on the Huawei Mate S on Youtube. It works in their photos app, on the homescreen to simulate the home buttons, and as a makeshift scale to weight items that are between 100 grams and 400 grams.

    This is strictly a Huawei feature right now. I haven't heard anything about Google supporting force touch in Marshmallow.

    My guess: Huawei assumed Apple was putting force touch in the next iPhone... and they wanted to introduce that feature at the IFA conference. Unfortunately... they only got about a week's worth of force touch press coverage before Apple took over the news.

    It could become a Google/Android standard feature... but I think more OEMs would have to support it first. It's gonna take more than one company and one model of phone to get Google's attention. Right now... Huawei's force touch is only available on the most expensive 128GB version of the Mate S... not the full line of the Mate S nor on any other models. Perhaps they are just testing the waters before they do a wide release of this feature.

    Or it could be like other features that launch with huge fanfare but are quickly forgotten. (Samsung Eye-Scroll?)

    I'll be enjoying 3D Touch system-wide on my upcoming iPhone 6S Plus... an advantage of Apple making the hardware and the software. :D
  • Reply 15 of 20
    This me the biggest engineering achievement is not that it works at t=0 when it's new, but that it (hopefully) keeps functioning as advertised when it's cold, hot, worn, slightly bent - we talk about microns here.
  • Reply 16 of 20
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



     I think we'll all be able to figure it out and once we do we won't want to go back to another device that doesn't have it (yes I'm looking at you iPad Air 2).

    I agree very, very much with this.

     

    Does the iPad Pro have 3D Touch?

  • Reply 17 of 20
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post



    What strikes me is that this "S" series of iPhones is the rather massive update and this is just one feature that makes that obvious. Makes you wonder about iPhone 7.



    "S" series are always a massive update, because Apple spends the entire year working solely on function. The numbered releases are split between new form and new function.

     

    You get the typical rejects that think "its the same as the last one" because the look of it hasn't changed. When in reality the S series phones change more significantly than otherwise.

  • Reply 18 of 20
    rogifan wrote: »
    I'm very excited about 3D Touch. And screw all the techies and their "learning curve" nonsense. We're much smarter than they give us credit for. Engadget said 3D Touch was "completely natural". I think we'll all be able to figure it out and once we do we won't want to go back to another device that doesn't have it (yes I'm looking at you iPad Air 2).

    It's only a learning curve if you never touched an iPhone 6s and are only watching it demonstrated on web videos, and plan to go back to Android when you're done. Knowing Apple, the UI is probably very natural and responsive to your pressure. Or let me put it another way: if it wasn't natural feeling and intuitive, Apple would be raked over the coals once the 6s is available in Apple Retail Stores for people to touch and use.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    wizard69 wrote: »
    What strikes me is that this "S" series of iPhones is the rather massive update and this is just one feature that makes that obvious. Makes you wonder about iPhone 7.
    spheric wrote: »
    It's been this way pretty much every "s" generation. The 3GS was an entirely new phone, except for case and display. Same with the 4S and 5s. 


    The 7 will basically be an iPhone 6s in a new design. 
    pmz wrote: »

    "S" series are always a massive update, because Apple spends the entire year working solely on function. The numbered releases are split between new form and new function.

    You get the typical rejects that think "its the same as the last one" because the look of it hasn't changed. When in reality the S series phones change more significantly than otherwise.

    Agreed. The 5S looked like the 5, but introduced Touch ID, a better, slo-mo camera, True Tone flash, gold finish, and the first 64-bit A7 chip. I think techies familiar with Intel and nvidia's "tick tock" product releases have grown accustomed to thinking of the tock as optimization, but Apple introduces core features in both tick and tock. They aren't resting on their laurels.
  • Reply 20 of 20
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post









    Agreed. The 5S looked like the 5, but introduced Touch ID, a better, slo-mo camera, True Tone flash, gold finish, and the first 64-bit A7 chip. I think techies familiar with Intel and nvidia's "tick tock" product releases have grown accustomed to thinking of the tock as optimization, but Apple introduces core features in both tick and tock. They aren't resting on their laurels.



    My impression is they put a lot of effort into the "s" models to make them enough attractive for upgrading from the previous non-s version. Those bring 50% of their incentive already by the updated housing.

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