So the new iPhones have force touch. Apple is branding it “3D Touch”, presumably to differentiate it as an improvement over the force touch trackpad introduced on their new MacBook last spring. The difference? It’s faster.
Surprisingly, though, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus aren’t the first smartphone on the market to offer multi-level haptic feedback. That title, if you can believe it, goes to Huawei, and their Mate S announced at IFA in Berlin last week.
Even more surprising is that the Android platform has supported force touch since version 2.0 Eclair, circa 2009!
Some might argue that force touch goes back even further, to the SurePress clickable screen on 2008’s BlackBerry Storm. But unless I’m mistaken that device had only one level of haptic feedback when you tapped on the screen to type.
So is force touch a must-have feature? I’m not sure. Huawei has an app for the Mate S called Fun Scale, which lets you weigh things on your phone’s screen—but only if those things weigh between 3.5 and 14 ounces. Force touch is also supported in the native gallery app; you’ll get different levels of magnification on a photo depending on how hard you press.
Apple, meanwhile, is touting a feature called “Peek and Poke”, which sounds very much like an adult-themed Dr. Seuss book, but isn’t. Instead, it’s a way to preview and open email messages (for example) depending, again, on how hard you press on your screen.
Not having tried force touch myself I can’t say if it’s a curiosity or something I would ever come to depend on. What do you think?