iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus with iOS 9 and iOS 10 comes with the 3D touch technology. Same for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. It is one of the most exciting features that Apple has launched in its latest models. However the update is possible only if supported by both hardware and software. Jail-broken software is not eligible. The latest Apple phones have pressure sensors which support 3D touch. This is slightly similar to the Apple watch which has pressure sensitive touch under the name “Force Touch”. However the watch has only two degrees of touch – a standard touch and a harder force tap. The listed phones come with three degrees of touch.
3D Touch opens the iPhone up to many new interesting interface features. The hardware will sense the amount of pressure on your screen and acts accordingly. Third party app developers will also be launching updates to their applications. 3D feature will be enabled for apps by default. Users can turn off the feature in the settings.
One key ability that 3D touch makes possible is the Peek and pop feature. This lets you preview the actual content before opening. For example you view the contents of mail, documents and webpages. For example, in the email app, when you give a slight touch the mail will show the preview of contents and you can just peek into it. Applying a firmer press will pop up the entire email.
Peep and Pop also gives the facility to preview one application contents without leaving another app. This feature is very comfortable for people who multi-task with applications. For example, when you are working on some other app and you receive an email for the address that you require you can just peek into the contents without actually opening them.
This also the same for web pages when you receive a link you do not need to open the entire content of the page rather you can just have a glance over the page.
The preview option will be made available to all Apple applications and other apps too in the near future. Popular features in the iPhone that will take advantage of 3D Touch include:
Calendar notifications on the lock screen can be used with 3D touch to view the location and address.
While downloading more than one application, the downloads can be prioritized by holding one of the apps and then selecting the prioritize option.
One can now peep into the weather details and check the present and future conditions.
Pressing harder on the phone application icon on the home screen will now give a small pop-up menu with some useful options. It contains the facility to call the contact which you dial up frequently and to add a new contact as well.
When opening the messaging or FaceTime application, you can press hard to see a menu for the recently contacted friend. You can also what appears on the pop-up menu by pressing harder on the menu.
The camera application will come with a pop menu that will provide you with the option to go straight into selfies mode or video or slo-mo.
The short-cut menu here will lead the user directly into the search option and similarly for the iBook option. Itunes doesn’t have the option built in at present, but it is just a matter of time before the app gets it.
Apple maps have a short-cut menu which will straightly get you the route for home.
By pressing harder on the keyboard, the user can move into anywhere within the screen while the keys just grey out.
By holding to the left hand side of the home screen or most of the other applications, one can switch between the previous apps and the present app. This is slightly easier than double tapping the home button
Drawing and Art
One of the spaces where 3D can create lot of creativity is drawing apps. Users can now create art forms of various designs by applying different levels of pressure on the display. This would be more exciting on an iPad which is more naturally used by artists. However 3D touch is expected to take more time to be available on iPads.
3D touch in WhatsApp
The widely used application for messaging is Whatsapp and the company has decided to bring in a lot of updates for the 3D platform. Since the beginning of 2016, the app has been flooding with updates like end-to-end encryption, free for life declaration by its owners, and Facebook integration.
Now, 3D touch interface seems to be the new rage. The application now lets users peek and pop videos, links and other information received in a chat. You can have a quick preview with a slight tap on the content.
Other applications which currently support 3D Touch technology
Waze – users can now hold on the app screen icon and begin the quick actions such as navigation to places and sharing current location.
Gasbuddy and Fantastical also have launched their 3D touch enabled apps.
3D touch In Gaming
The gaming industry will have the biggest boom by bringing in multiple game controls without cluttering the game screen or the pace of the game.
For example, AG Drive at present offers pressure sensitive accelerator buttons which will give the users a normal speed for soft touch and higher speed for harder touch.
The advent of 3D Touch on the iPhone opens new vistas of interactions for users. Note that developers have to make the transition with care. Developing applications for the sake of 3D may alienate users without 3D touch enabled phones. As such, for now, developers may have to design two version for each app until 3D touch becomes mainstream. But there is no question about it: 3D touch is an exciting path forward for mobile devices.