Can you remember the first time that you used multitouch? The first time that you picked up a smartphone with a capacitive touchscreen display and used two fingers to pinch-to-zoom? You might, but I sure don’t. The feature has been around long enough now, and become such a staple of how we use our phones and tablets every day, that it’s just common practice. There’s nothing all that exciting about multitouch anymore, and that’s a good thing.
For Apple, that meant that things had to change again, because apparently we were all overdue a new way to interact with our touchscreens. There’s nothing wrong with that mentality, of course, because we all have to keep moving forward to keep these devices of ours interesting.
However, I’m not sure Apple’s new effort has the same effect as multitouch did all those years ago.
I’ll use the pinch-to-zoom scenario again, because I feel like it’s one of the most natural ways to use multitouch. Using the feature on a webpage to focus on a block of text, or, perhaps more often, zooming in on an image, and being able to zoom out moving your fingers in the opposite way, just feels natural. I want to look closer at something, so I pinch to do that.
When Apple unveiled 3D Touch, the company’s new input method for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus (and, inevitably, other Apple-branded products), they made no effort to hide the fact they believe this is as important a feature as multitouch was all those years ago when it was first unveiled. They might be right, because obviously 3D Touch is only going to get better, more advanced as the years click forward.
I’m just not using it as often as I thought I would. At least, not in other areas that aren’t Live Photos. When it comes to pressing harder on my phone’s display on certain app icons, I just don’t find myself doing it. I use the feature all the time when it comes to seeing my kids moving around in a Live Photo, though, so that’s the feature’s saving grace for me at this point.
I can’t argue that, in some apps, 3D Touch is, technically, faster. If you’re opening up an app to get to the search function within it, using 3D Touch can, more often than not, offer up the ability to open that app right in the search box, ready to go. No need to open the app, wait for it to open, and then touch on the text box after it opens up.
I’ve gotten so used to that being how things work, though, that’s just what I default to. And I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that, in the majority of moments where I’m using my phone, I’m not in a race against an invisible clock. Right now I look at 3D Touch saving me a second, sometimes, and that’s not a second that needed saving.
I’m not using 3D Touch right now because muscle memory is winning out over incorporating a new way to interact with my smartphone, but I don’t think that will always be the case. I think it would be pretty great if 3D Touch could give me interactive elements outside of the app. In the search example above, I wish I could 3D Touch an app icon, and there be a search box right there in the pop-up field. I could input the search I want, and then the app would open to that result. That would make the feature even faster than it already is.
That might be a pipe dream for now, but I don’t think it’s impossible for Apple to implement something like that down the road. I don’t have any doubts that 3D Touch is going to get better in the future, and it’s possible that it becomes just as ingrained in my every day use as multitouch is now, but right now it’s just one of Apple’s new features I’m not using at all.
What about you? Do you use 3D Touch a lot? Let me know!