The more naturally a screen adapts to your commands, the better it is to use. As smartphones have been developed, resistive touchscreens have given way to capacitive ones, which have since gained multi-touch and gesture features. Now, the next step is to give a 2-D object the feeling of something with three dimensions. Apple’s 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s is bringing that one step closer. Here’s how:
3D Touch Basics
As comfortable as most people are with touchscreens, they are far from perfect from an interactive point of view. The level of precision needed for modern screens to replicate the detail of a pen or pencil is just starting to become a reality. The same can be said for the quickness of using things like a physical bookmark in a book — you can easily flip to the area you want to see and it takes almost no effort. Before 3D Touch, you needed to follow a string of commands that required more time and work.
Apple’s 3D Touch works by sensing a light or heavy amount of pressure on the screen, which then enables the phone to employ separate commands accordingly. A hard press works similarly to a bookmark. For example, you can use a hard press on your camera app to open it and automatically be ready to start taking pictures as opposed to a soft press that pulls up a menu feature.
In addition to 3D Touch, the iPhone 6s has a new haptic feedback engine that allows for more varied vibrations. The quick action of this new “Taptic” motor gives you a tactile feeling when interacting with your phone. Instead of only feeling the glass, you get a quick and silent confirmation that the command was understood and is going to be performed.
Peek and Pop
Multi-Touch and 3D Touch are all about saving you time in the long term. Apple knows that you use certain apps and features more than others, which is why they created 3D Touch to save you from wasting time digging through menus and sub-menus. The Peek and Pop function also saves you time by removing the necessity of using a back button. Peek and Pop lets you preview messages and emails without completely switching out of whatever application you were previously using. If you get the information you need, you can go back to what you were doing without having to toggle back and forth. If there is something you need to respond to, you can quickly access the app and start your message.
Many of the best ways 3D Touch is going to be implemented haven’t been thought of yet — but they will be soon. Once app developers get their hands and minds on how this new interface works, they are going to come up with new ways to make it fun, useful, time-saving and beneficial to you in so many ways.
3D Touch isn’t just another gimmicky feature. Even if you don’t see the advantages right now, the technology has the potential to save you time, hassle and frustration with apps in the future. This feature is here to stay and both Apple and developers will continue to make it better and more useful to all iPhone users.