How to use iOS 9's keyboard as a trackpad with 3D Touch on iPhone 6s

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2015
Apple's new pressure-sensing 3D Touch technology, introduced with iPhone 6s, lets users swiftly navigate iOS 9 with Quick Actions and "Peek and Pop" previews. A lesser known -- but equally functional -- feature turns iPhone's soft keyboard into a trackpad for granular cursor control, making text entry and navigation a snap.




Apple's keyboard-as-trackpad functionality comes built in to iOS 9 as a feature available to iPad and iPhone 6s owners. Unlike the tablet version, which switches between keyboard and trackpad-like cursor control modes when the OS detects a two-finger drag gesture, iPhone 6s achieves the same result with a single deep press.

Users can invoke iOS 9's trackpad anywhere the keyboard appears, including third-party apps. First, select a text box or text entry window to bring up iOS 9's soft keyboard and onscreen cursor. When in a document or text entry field, firmly press anywhere on the keyboard. Performing the gesture correctly will blank out the keyboard's lettering.

It should be noted that a deep press gesture will not invoke trackpad control after a normal keystroke is logged (when the typewriter-esque confirmation key or special character selection pop-up appears), it must be on first contact. Also keep a document's length in mind, as limited finger space might restrict scrolling or text selection operations.

Once the keyboard goes blank you can ease downward pressure to more easily track around the screen, but it's important that your finger stay in constant contact with the display surface. The cursor moves in relation to your finger and will perform an up, down, left or right scrolling operation when it hits a corresponding text box boundary. To set the cursor in its current position, simply release your finger from the screen.





To select text while in trackpad mode, move the cursor over a desired word and press firmly to highlight it. Release pressure and drag up or down to select larger blocks of text. Alternatively, performing two consecutive deep presses without moving your finger expands the selection to an entire sentence, while three presses selects a paragraph. The usual contextual menu with options for cut, copy, paste, font and define is invoked by tapping on the now highlighted text.

On a related note, the same set of selection gestures can be performed directly on bodies of text with a firm press.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    This is all good and dandy, but can we all just admit that there is a major oversight in that 3D Touch is not able to be utilized through search or spotlight.

    This needs to be corrected. As many apps as we have I cant believe Apple hasn't made this a day one feature with 3D Touch.

    Example pull down on the home screen to search and you'll see big app icons of recently used apps, these along with any apps searched should be 3D Touch enabled.

    3D Touch is for quick easy convienent features through apps. It really limits the timely connivence of this feature if you have to search for the app through the multiple home screens and folders just to 3D Touch it.
  • Reply 2 of 20
    This isn't really a 3D Touch feature seeing as the older iPhones could use it in the beta, and it's clearly an iPad feature still.
  • Reply 3 of 20
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post



    This isn't really a 3D Touch feature seeing as the older iPhones could use it in the beta, and it's clearly an iPad feature still.



    The way it works for iPhone 6s clearly requires 3D Touch. It's a completely different way versus how it's done on iPad. Nowhere in the article did it say it's strictly a 3D Touch feature. 

  • Reply 4 of 20

    The way it works for iPhone 6s clearly requires 3D Touch. It's a completely different way versus how it's done on iPad. Nowhere in the article did it say it's strictly a 3D Touch feature. 

    It doesn't; Apple's just chosen to implement it that way. It worked on the iPhone 6 during the earlier 9 betas.
  • Reply 5 of 20
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    It doesn't; Apple's just chosen to implement it that way. It worked on the iPhone 6 during the earlier 9 betas.

    I didn't use any of the betas but for me the way it works on the 6S is so much better than on my iPad. I can easily select text on my 6S. I've never gotten it to work on my iPad Air 2. Honestly I hope in a future update Apple incorporates the Taptic Engine with this, esentially giving you feedback when you push hard on the screen to get the trackpad and again when the cursor is locked and you can start selecting text. To me things like this and 3D Touch are not nearly as compelling without the Taptic Engine.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    It doesn't; Apple's just chosen to implement it that way. It worked on the iPhone 6 during the earlier 9 betas.

    Are you referring to two fingers on the keyboard v physically pressing the screen down on the 6S-series with a single digit in order to move the cursor around? if so, they are not the same implementation, and the 3D Touch is vastly superior in execution.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    thrangthrang Posts: 760member
    Pls kill the obnoxious music...
  • Reply 8 of 20
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,718member
    Quote:



    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post





    Are you referring to two fingers on the keyboard v physically pressing the screen down on the 6S-series with a single digit in order to move the cursor around? if so, they are not the same implementation, and the 3D Touch is vastly superior in execution.

     

    Correct. The early betas enabled two-finger cursor and selection, just as on the iPad. This means the function does not exist in one-handed use, except by accident. 

     

    And in two-handed use as when typing, only the thumbs of both hands touch the keyboard on a phone. This makes two-finger cursor placement difficult then, too — as opposed to the iPad, where two fingers of either hand can easily be dropped onto the keyboard and moved in sync.

  • Reply 9 of 20
    I can understand Apple wanting to limit this feature to the 6s models, but could they please the dysfunctional behavior of text selection on all models prior to 6s? It used to work great, now it takes multiple tries before one can achieve their selection.
  • Reply 10 of 20
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,442member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    It should be noted that a deep press gesture will not invoke trackpad control after a normal keystroke is logged (when the typewriter-esque confirmation key or special character selection pop-up appears), it must be on first contact. Also keep a document's length in mind, as limited finger space might restrict scrolling or text selection operations.

    At least in Mail, "trackpad control" (TC) can be invoked anytime the keyboard is displayed, even after logging keystrokes. It makes perfect sense that this works and works well, because individual keystrokes aren't logged until the finger is released. If one performs a long deep press, the press isn't logged as text and the keyboard goes into TC mode. Scrolling also works up/down through long documents, scrolling faster and farther by moving the finger near the top/bottom of the display.

     

    Lately I had been terribly frustrated by an almost complete inability to reposition the insertion point when editing text. Instead of repositioning the insertion point, different whole words and phrases were being selected. Pressing and holding until the insertion point appeared beneath my finger no longer worked as it had in the past (with earlier iPhones). Argh!!! Finally I realized 3D Touch was being used, and what were my normal presses were being interpreted as deep presses. To reposition the insertion point, what is for me a very light touch must be used now. (I've not adjusted the 3D Touch preferences from their defaults.)

  • Reply 11 of 20
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    that music is stupid. it would have been more useful to have a narrator explain what he's doing.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

     

    At least in Mail, "trackpad control" (TC) can be invoked anytime the keyboard is displayed, even after logging keystrokes.


    It works that way in the Facebook app too, so it appears to be universal to any standard text box.

  • Reply 13 of 20
    dacloodacloo Posts: 890member
    There are so many available gestures now that a wrong gesture is easily triggered.

    Gestures I really hate are the back/forward swipes (we now got edge-deep-presses too!) as well as pull down from top VS pull up from bottom (which sometimes need to be done 4 times before the damn thing responses).

    Anyway what would really make sense but isn't in isn 'pull up from bottom" to show the wifi/Bluetooth toggle buttons. Pressing these long or 3D-pressing them then opens a list of Bluetooth/wifi connections, avoiding the need to go through the settings app.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I didn't use any of the betas but for me the way it works on the 6S is so much better than on my iPad. I can easily select text on my 6S. I've never gotten it to work on my iPad Air 2. Honestly I hope in a future update Apple incorporates the Taptic Engine with this, esentially giving you feedback when you push hard on the screen to get the trackpad and again when the cursor is locked and you can start selecting text. To me things like this and 3D Touch are not nearly as compelling without the Taptic Engine.

     

    My 6s+ will be my de facto iPad nano until the iPad Air 3 or iPad mini 5 get the same 3D Touch implementation w/ Taptic engine as the 6s/6s+.

  • Reply 15 of 20
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,442member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dacloo View Post



    Gestures I really hate are the back/forward swipes (we now got edge-deep-presses too!) as well as pull down from top VS pull up from bottom (which sometimes need to be done 4 times before the damn thing responses).

    Agreed. The deep press edge swipe is difficult without a case and ridiculously so with a case. Callus-inducing.

  • Reply 16 of 20
    complicated learnimg curve. Doesn't always work needs an update
  • Reply 17 of 20
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    I can understand Apple wanting to limit this feature to the 6s models, but could they please the dysfunctional behavior of text selection on all models prior to 6s? It used to work great, now it takes multiple tries before one can achieve their selection.

    For me, text selection works better than ever in iOS 9. Currently I'm using an iPhone 6, before that was an iPhone 4 running iOS 6 & 7, and an iPhone 3G running iOS 4
  • Reply 18 of 20
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post





    It doesn't; Apple's just chosen to implement it that way. It worked on the iPhone 6 during the earlier 9 betas.



    Turning something on for a few days does not = "it worked".

  • Reply 19 of 20
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RobertWalter View Post



    I can understand Apple wanting to limit this feature to the 6s models, but could they please the dysfunctional behavior of text selection on all models prior to 6s? It used to work great, now it takes multiple tries before one can achieve their selection.



    3D Touch/2 finger Trackpad mode IS THE FIX. Text selection has always been the weakest link. It took me all of 1 day to forget the old and exclusively start using 3D touch/trackpad mode to select text. Never looking back.

  • Reply 20 of 20
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    cpsro wrote: »
    Agreed. The deep press edge swipe is difficult without a case and ridiculously so with a case. Callus-inducing.

    I disagree. I'm using it almost exclusively now. At first I didn't think I would. But the more I do it the more natural it becomes. Maybe a little more difficult with one handed use but it didn't take me long to get the hang of it.
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