Over on Twitter, I asked you guys “How does one simply explain Apple’s ‘3D Touch’ to someone not very tech literate?” I was trying to explain 3D Touch to someone who doesn’t live and breathe tech like all of us. Some of you said “touch the display harder” because “magic happens when you press harder.” Some of you said “Simple, call it Force Touch. Because that’s exactly what it is.” But my favorite explanation is that “It’s like a right click menu except you use your finger.” That resonated with me the most because that’s kind of how I use 3D Touch the most so far on my iPhone 6s Plus. When I went to open up a tab, I 3D Touch Safari and a window pops up to give me a shortcut to a number of functionalities. I have the option to open up a new tab, new private tab, I can show bookmarks and show my reading list—all without ever leaving the home screen. I can 3D Touch the Mail app and create a new email directly from the home screen, once again without ever opening up the app.
The home screen, I would say, is really where I use 3D Touch the most right now. Granted, most apps have yet to implement 3D Touch. But taking a step back, 3D Touch is a new form of multi-touch. There are sensors built into the iPhone 6s and the 6s Plus. And they measure how much pressure you apply to the display. In a general sense, 3D Touch is a shortcut to information and functionality.
In addition to pop up windows on the home screens, 3D Touch can be used to peek into information. That kind of sounds a little odd but I’ll give you an example. In the Apple Music app, you can Force Touch on a playlist or an album and a window will pop up to give you a glimpse of the song or songs in the playlist. If you want to open up a menu entirely, you can press even harder on the display and the menu will stick. This action works with the Mail app, Apple News app, along with several other apps from Apple. Once again, the functionality will expand across many more apps in the coming weeks and months. I’d be willing to bet any major app that displays its information through a list will be receiving 3D Touch support and functionality.
So in addition to the pop-up Windows and information, 3D Touch can also be used to animate Live Photos. All you have to do is Force Touch a picture and it’ll animate the photo. Check it out, it’s kind of cool. It even works on the lock screen. You can Force Touch the lock screen and it’ll animate the lock screen photo. Once again, pretty cool feature.
If you head to the Photos app, you can actually Force Touch on a photo to enlarge it without ever technically opening up the photo. So it does have some potential to save you some time. You don’t have to open up each individual photo. When you’re done viewing the photo, you just take off your thumb.
One lesser known feature of 3D Touch or Force Touch, depending on what you want to call it, is the hard press on the keyboard action to turn it into a trackpad for you to move the cursor around. You can also Force Touch and swipe in from the left hand side of the display on an open application to open up the multi-tasking drawer.
So overall, 3D Touch is a brand new feature, a brand new way to interact with your smartphone. Because it is so new, it’s not really developed to very many apps right now. In fact, the Apple apps are really the only apps that take the most advantage of 3D Touch as of right now. But that is going to change as the developers implement the use of 3D Touch in their apps. So until then, you’ll kind of just have to Force Touch on stuff to see if anything happens because there’s no real way to tell if 3D Touch is there or not.
With that said, let me know your thoughts on 3D Touch and if you think it’s a feature that justifies upgrading to the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus. Are you holding off to see how it matures? Let me know.