Learn How: iPhone 6’s 3D Touch

The iPhone craze is not over – it is as alive as it was in 2007 when the first iPhone blew us over. Apple tries to integrate at least one game changer in each iteration of iPhone and this time around too, the company justifies the hype with panache.

In this upgrade, Apple introduces us to 3D touch, a haptic technology (technology that deals with touch sensing) integrated with iPhone 6s. Haptics isn’t new to us – vibrations you feel from your phone is a simple haptic technology and are crucial to smartphones and gaming today. So why is everybody going gaga over 3D touch?

Like the name suggests, 3D touch conceptually adds a new dimension to our phone screens. It’s a fundamental change to the way we interact with phone displays. Today, after a touch, the phone senses only x and y coordinates on the screen, deducing the location of our touch on a two dimensional plane. 3D touch adds the 3rd dimension – the z axis – which in this case is the amount of pressure you exert on the screen. All this means is that your new iPhone can sense the pressure of your touch, give you better feedback than just a good old regular vibration and make your smartphone experience much more exciting.

iPhone 6s has an added layer of capacitive sensors that are sensitive to the pressure of your touch (source: ifixit)


The taptic engine contains a Linear Resonant Actuator that is more powerful than ordinary vibrating motors found in most phones. It is able to simulate new touch feedbacks/responses such as taps. (source: idownloadblog)

The Possibilities

Wonder how people felt when TV first came out in color? The 3D touch is the color TV to our touch interaction with devices. Like color brought more variety to TV content, 3D touch is all set to make our phone experience more natural and intuitive.

Currently, most implementations of 3D touch focus on one key word – efficiency. Why click on a link and land on a page without knowing what lies behind the link? Why open a place on google maps without knowing if it’s the location you are looking for? These are some of the questions that 3D touch addresses with its new “peek” and “pop” gestures. To get a preview of where a web url will lead you, you can press lightly on the link and voila!, you get a peek of the webpage without actually landing on the website. And if you are sure you want to go to the webpage, you can press hard on the link (this is called a “pop”).

3D touch will, no doubt, pave way for more creative interactions, especially when integrated with more advanced haptic feedback like textured touch. Pokes on facebook, for example, could have a physical side – you may be able to decide how hard you want to poke a friend. Similarly, when typing, the amount of pressure you apply might help you capitalize or bolden your letters, saving time for other edits. You could send a handshake to new connections on LinkedIn. While these are just a few examples of how 3D touch may change the way we touch our phone screens, it can be safely assumed that the possibilities of innovative interaction with the help of 3D touch are limitless.

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