Apple’s Force Touch technology builds pressure sensitivity into its multi-touch input mechanisms, allowing a user to press more firmly to trigger secondary actions. On the Watch, it’s often used sort of like a right-click on a Mac, unlocking additional settings and menu options that otherwise would be hard to integrate into such a small interface.
On the new Retina MacBook Pros, and the new MacBook, Force Touch enables additional features like dictionary lookup for words, link previews and map views for addresses in apps like Safari, and 9to5Mac’s report suggests that this will be similar to how Force Touch works on iOS 9 and next-generation iPhone hardware, too. It’ll be accompanied by real-time haptic feedback (Apple’s so-called ‘taptic’ engine), as well, and could provide a way for developers to code special features for power users in addition to what’s already possible using multi-touch, per the report.
The potential for Force Touch on iOS is vast – giving developers access to pressure sensitivity could drastically improve the performance of drawing apps, for instance, and allowing it to trigger secondary commands and open menus might mean a transition to interfaces where content is even more the focus, and chrome (visible menus, buttons, etc.) are more hidden away.
iOS is already geared towards being extremely intuitive and user-friendly, however, and unlike on the Watch, you don’t have to ‘solve’ the problem of minimal screen real estate, so it makes sense that this might be geared more towards power users, especially at first.
Other new features reportedly coming in iOS 9 by 9to5Mac include a new keyboard design that’s intended to be more user-friendly, as well as changes to iMessage that make it a more robust messaging platform. Said enhancements include being able to set read receipts on a user-by-user basis, instead of the current all-or-none implementation. Finally, Canada could be getting Apple Pay support in iOS 9 (personal yay, as I’m Canadian and tire of my American colleagues holding this over my head).
Some of this could show up at WWDC, but don’t expect any mention of Force Touch on iPhones until the new hardware is unveiled this fall.