Taptic API for iPhone, Apple Watch will grant devs access to previously Apple-only feature

in iPhone
Apple's implementation of a "solid state" home button expands the Taptic Engine's feedback on the iPhone, and a forthcoming API for developers' use will expand implementation to non-Apple apps.

During the iPhone 7 announcement, Apple executive Phil Schiller showed off the new force sensitive home button, which is now not a mechanical button. Instead, the button is pressure-sensitive, and utilizes Apple's Taptic Engine for feedback for the user.

Apple's Taptic Engine debuted with the Force Touch feature in Sept. 2014's unveil of the Apple Watch. Since initial reveal, it has been implemented in the 2015 MacBook rebirth, the MacBook Pro, and the Magic Trackpad 2.

Making the API available to developers to use will allow for better force feedback implementation OS-wide, and give developers a way to utilize the feature in other ways, such as haptic responses to actions in a game.

Taptic APIs have been available since iOS9's release, but have been under Apple's lock and key.

The previous "UITapticEngine"

Previously, the Taptic APIs were private in iOS 9, and limited to Apple-only use. Some enterprising developers examined it in some depth, but applications submitted with private APIs are rejected during the App Store review process.

Schiller's new API discussed at the iPhone 7 reveal is not yet available to developers in the current iOS 10 and Xcode 8 "golden master" releases. However, Apple's approach of last-minute API releases, or releases in a point update of iOS and Xcode, is not unusual.

"[A new Taptic API in the beta releases] would have revealed a new feature," developer Rosyna Keller told AppleInsider. "Apple hates that, they tend to scrub it from public seeds until the next major public seed."

At present, even the previous, private Taptic Engine API's have been excised from the pre-releases. More information on the hooks for the feature for coders will have to wait on Apple's official documentation.


  • Reply 1 of 4
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Another reason why gaming will be huge on iPhone 7 among Stereo speakers, 3D Touch and brighter display.

    I'm wondering if you can use the home button as gaming input now? Tapping it would be great for games like Mario Run so we can see the beautiful landscapes and obstacles without our fingers getting in the way.
  • Reply 2 of 4
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    I'll bet a dollar that some app developer out there will release a Morse code app for  Watch.
    Send and receive messages while tapping your  Watch.

    Time for a remake of "The Departed" (2006) and/or the movie it was based on: "Infernal Affairs" (2002).
  • Reply 3 of 4
    Super agree with @cali—use in gaming would be wonderful. Especially simplistic gameplay only requiring single taps on screen. No obstructions should equate to better gameplay. Like others, I wonder if the new home button can register directional movement across its touch surface? Could in theory have an API to permit D-Pad like joystick for gaming (up, down, left, right). If not when the iP7 drops in week than with a later update hopefully.
    edited September 2016 cali
  • Reply 4 of 4
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,155member
    The pink ones can double as a vibrator ... ;)
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