Apple is reportedly testing two different designs for incorporating Force Touch pressure sensing into the screen of the next iPhone, according to a supply chain report Thursday published by DigiTimes, a hit-and-miss Taiwanese trade publication.
In considering how to best add the Apple Watch-style Force Touch technology to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which should debut this fall, the Cupertino firm could either place the pressure sensor underneath the touch panel backlighting layer or between the outermost protective screen cover and the in-cell touch panel.
Citing Taiwanese touch panel makers TPK and GIS which currently supply panels for the Apple Watch, the report explains that the company is more likely to opt for a design calling for the placement of the pressure sensor beneath the touch panel backlighting layer.
While this approach would avoid interference with the device’s in-cell touch panel, it would also require adding extra touch sensor components in addition to a new flexible printed circuit design in order to save on space.
Force Touch on an iPhone would distinguish between a light tap and deep press to provide easy access to hidden options. Revered analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said recently that Force Touch on the iPhone will monitor “the contact area on which the finger touches the screen to decide how big the pressure is” as opposed to sensing pressure from users’ fingers.
Regardless of the implementation, outfitting iPhones with Force Touch is going to require adapting iOS for this new user interface paradigm while giving developers a new set of APIs to take advantage of pressure sensing.
Force Touch technology originally debuted on the Apple Watch and later made its way into the new twelve-inch MacBook and the updated MacBook Pro.
Alongside the re-engineered trackpad on these new Mac notebooks, Apple has also documented Force Touch on its developer website and released new Force Touch APIs in the OS X Yosemite 10.10.3.