iPhone 6s: what’s good?
Whether you are an Apple fanatic or a tech-geek, I’ve got good news for you. Today is the day that you can finally make your money rain on the iPhone 6s you longed for ever since its launch. Although I have eaves-dropped a lot of criticism along the way about the innovative nature of the newest member of the Apple family, and a lot of people are wondering if the only thing that has changed is indeed everything, I must say that one newly added feature does catch my eyes and the technology behind it impresses me. That one feature I’m talking about is the 3D Touch.
The iPhones and iPads Apple has introduced until now are all working with Multi-Touch, which allows you to tap, swipe and pinch on the screen. However, with the 3D Touch Apple is now allowing the phone to detect how hard you are pressing on the screen. The phone can distinguish the pressure on two levels: soft or hard (Charmary, 2015). Along with this, Apple adds two more gestures to Multi-Touch interactions: Peek and Pop (Apple, 2015). Let me simply describe what Peek and Pop actually mean.
Say you are just going through your e-mail and you see mails that may or may not be important enough to spend more than 1 second to look at it. With 3D Touch you do not have to tap on the mail and open it to view the content. Just simply touch the e-mail with a light tap, and the iPhone allows you to take a peek at the content, without leaving the inbox screen. When you decide this e-mail will have an impact on your life and you must act upon it immediately, you can let the device know by pressing just a little bit harder on the screen. This way, iPhone will show you the whole content of the e-mail by popping up the right screen, just like how you were used to it before by tapping on it. 3D Touch does not only apply to e-mails but also when you wants to preview a link someone texted you or take a quick look at the address of where you have to be and more(Apple, 2015), convenient right?
Since you now know what the new technology can do and what value it adds to your phone, let us dive deeper to the technological background of it. The phones with touch screen we use until now contents a two-dimensional way of using. You can imagine it like the pressures are registered on the X and Y axes. This allows the phone track the precise location of your finger and where you are tapping onto. 3D touching however adds another dimension into the tapping experience. It allows the phone to detect and ‘feel’ how hard you are actually pressing. This could be imagined as a Z axe. To translate it into the language we are more familiar with, we could view the 3D touch as the ‘right-click’ of your mouse or trackpad, only for the touchscreen. Once activate this ‘right-click’, extra information and functionality will be displayed with this touch (Chamary, 2015).
The crucial component that has made 3D touching possible is the capacitive sensors that are embedded underneath the Retina display of the iPhone. But this is not where it starts. The not so shocking truth about the component that will recognize the pressure on the screen is actually the display itself. The idea that glass will depress by your touch might seem striking but it is true. Even though you are touching it with the slightest press, the screen will deform and the glass will bend (a little). To pass on the information that the screen is being touched or pressed, the electrical signals must be changed. This is possible due to the ‘strain gauges’ underneath the screen, which will change the electrical signal when they are bent (by the forces the finger puts on the screen) (Chamary, 2015). Since the capacitive sensors are integrated in the backlight of the iPhone, it also measures the distance between the cover glass and the backlight of each press. This is how the device is able to track whether it is a soft or hard press. The device will also let you know that the signal has been reached to the right layer by sending light vibrations. A soft press will get a vibrating respond within 10 milliseconds and a hard press 15 milliseconds (Stinson, 2015). Because the response time is so short, it is easy to find out whether the fingers have left the screen or not.
Having discussed the technology behind it, now the real question has strike me: is this new feature really that eye opening and will it raise its popularity among the iPhone users? Because let’s be honest, there are so many features on the iPhone that you hardly look at or use. So with the launch of 3D Touch, will people adapt to it immediately and even if they do, will the change actually improve our lifestyle tremendously?
Let me know about what you think about 3D Touch and whether this feature has (re)made you an Apple fan or not!
Apple (2015) 3D Touch. The next generation of Multi-Touch, http://www.apple.com/iphone-6s/3d-touch/, 9 October 2015.
Chamary, J.V. (2015) 3D Touch In iPhone 6S Isn’t Just A Gimmick. Here’s How It Works, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jvchamary/2015/09/12/3d-touch-iphone-6s/, 9 October 2015.
Stinson, L. (2015) The smart UI design behind Apple’s frictionless 3D Touch, http://www.wired.com/2015/09/the-ui-of-3d-touch/, 9 October, 2015.