Force Touch iPhone concept Maximilian Kiener 001

Yesterday’s report by a credible outlet provided an interesting outline of how Force Touch works and feels under iOS and on Apple’s upcoming ‘iPhone 6s’ and ‘iPhone 6s Plus’ smartphones. The basic premise behind outfitting an iPhone with a force-sensing screen is making user interface interactions faster with focus on shortcuts.

But there are still plenty of doubters out there who don’t think Force Touch iPhones make much sense, arguing the technology is but a marketing gimmick which doesn’t provide any benefit versus long-tapping items on the screen.

While there’s some merits to those voices, I’m inclined to think they’re missing the big picture and here’s why.

It’s about force sensing, not long-tapping

Many watchers are wondering about the benefits of Force Touch when tapping and holding could provide literally similar functionality. This is true to some extent, but don’t forget that longtapping on the Home screen is already used to enter the icon management mode.

Besides, the buttons in iOS perform actions upon releasing them, allowing you to abort an action by moving your finger away from the button and release it there, which is useful for people with disabilities.

But that’s beyond the point.

Apple Watch Force Touch

Force Touch, which debuted on the Apple Watch, is here to stay.

Apple quickly deployed it on MacBooks and it certainly is not marketing gimmick or some fancy new name for long-tapping objects on the screen. At the core of Force Touch are sensors capable of detecting varying degrees of pressure whereas long taps are just that, taps.

By sensing not just the difference between a light tap and a deep press, but the actually level of force being applied, software like painting and image editing apps could simulate various brushes and strokes depending on how firmly you press your finger against an iPhone’s screen.

Another example: on new Mac notebooks outfitted with Force Touch-enabled trackpads, you can vary the pressure you use on the fast-forward and rewind buttons in QuickTime and iMovie applications in order to accelerate the speed at which you fast forward or rewind just by varying the degree of pressure.

OS X Yosemite System Preferences Force Touch 001

The effect simply cannot be achieved without ability to measure the levels of force so you can easily imagine Force Touch lending itself perfectly to, say, quickly scrubbing through video in iOS’s media player.

Last but not least, Force Touch should show its full potential if Apple couples it with its rumored stylus accessory for a (rumored) ‘iPad Pro’. Apple’s support document lists other uses of pressure sensing on Force Touch MacBooks that could translate to certain aspects of iOS nicely.

Apple Watch Force Touch 002

Force Touch concept

Maximilian Kiener created this mockup video that gives us a good idea how pressing Control Center items firmly could quickly take you to any Settings menu without needing to launch the Settings app and navigate to the right section.

“Historically, settings has been one of the domains where Android had a UX lead over iOS,” Kiener said. “To introduce a universal interaction for improving it at this maturity-stage of the OS would be a big deal.”

The video is just one guy’s conceptual idea of Force Touch may function on iPhones, though it does a nice job illustrating how Force Touch would serve as a valuable user interface shortcut on the iOS platform.

Are you a believer?

I’m totally sold on Force Touch iPhones—there, I said it!

Even more so, I think Force Touch makes lots of sense on iOS and am convinced that it will advance the platform after it’s full potential is unleashed even if the initial implementation will leave a lot to be desired.

And your thoughts on Force Touch on upcoming iPhones?

Will this technology increase the productivity of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus users and reduce the number of taps and on-screen menus? Or do force-sensing smartphone screens make absolutely no sense to your from a user experience standpoint?

  • Rotor

    Let me tell you the truth of this gimmick as a 2015 MBP Owner. This is gonna drop and when it does everyone will use it for 2-3 months and then they’ll completely forget they even have it because this shxt is pointless in workflow. It’s just different it doesn’t actually improve anything.

    • Exactly! Essentially this is just long tapping (yes I read the article, but it’s about customizing the experience and Apple could have changed long tapping) if you look at it correctly. They could have added menus to the OS long ago. The problem is Apple doesn’t allow the user to customize their experience and therefore they hinder their own technology. If the Apple Watch allowed users to customize certain aspects like making your own watch face not just change minor things, more people would enjoy it. For a company that claimed Apple Watch is the most personal device yet, its not exactly showing that. And with the technology moving to other devices in their line up, unless they allow people to customize the experience… like you said Rotor they’ll completely forget about this.

      • Shadowelite123

        You do realize you can customize your watch face right? If you read any kind of news, watch os 2 allows us to customize it further and add custom complications.

      • It’s not real customization. You can only change the complications and background photo. But you can’t fully change it to the way you want it. Every Apple Watch user ultimately has the exact same watch face because you can’t move the complications around on the screen to where you want, can’t have moving video backgrounds, the list goes on and on.

    • Apple hasn’t shown anything yet! “Let me tell you the truth…” should be “I have a opinion based on no evidence”. At this point all we know is the tech and how it works, apple have been great at innovation in the past so we don’t know what impact this will have on iOS. I’m more excited for the Apple TV refresh anyway 😀

      • Lagax

        Oh my god, if you like technology you want to read opinions on rumors and not only when “something is shown”.

        If you don’t like technology, why are you even on this site? He has an opinion (which I don’t share e.g.), but it’s valid, especially because “Mark Gurman sais” is basically equal to “Apple announced”…

      • I love technology and can’t wait to see how force touch is integrated into iOS but I don’t see the point in trying to kill a new feature before we know anything about it.

      • Lagax

        He just tries to make sense of the new feature, which we are *really* sure is about to come to iPhones and iPads. The problem with this post is that it is like any other one on this topic:

        – Force Touch is not like long press
        – Niche Force Touch examples
        – Force Touch examples, which could have been archived with long presses years ago

      • Exactly! “because this shxt is pointless”, “it doesn’t actually improve anything.” How can this be a valid when we haven’t seen Force Touch on iOS yet?

      • Lagax

        Because people can imagine stuff? Don’t you have any imagination?

      • Shadowelite123

        Actually not in the way force touch can do these actions. Like I told that ignorant kid down below, a long tap would become obsolete once you move your finger from its original position. It would also be flawed as it would only be able to achieved one action. In the case of the painting example, it will either change the stroke once or it will continue to change it. In the case of the media player scrubbing, it will either only go one speed higher or it will continue till it gets to the fastest speed. I’m sure not everyone has the best timing skills in the world to scrub through a 2 hour movie and stop at the exact position desired. Long tapping is illogical in these cases and probably more to come. To put it one way, force touch is an evolution of long tapping. Android doesn’t even implement long tapping in ways described by anti force touch commenters.

      • Lagax

        Painting and movie scrubbing are not valid examples. They’re niche, whereas the second, movie scrubbing, can be archived on a touch device by by just scrubbing through the movie how we already do it right now. There is no reason to implement force touch.

      • Shadowelite123

        I don’t see how moving a little slider on a 2 hour movie is in any way convenient

      • Lagax

        You know how Apple makes you use it? This fine scrubbin thing?

      • Alberto Espinal

        Let me ask you a question? When Touch ID was launched, what was it for? Just unlocking the iPhone, right? What is it for now? Pay right, and log in to many apps like your bank app, now give it time to ForceTouch and then we talk,  don’t do things just to do it, and then if it is a gimmick is going to be a gimmick but jumping into conclusions without knowing is a bad habit

      • anustart

        He has evidence and experience, as it’s incorporated into the trackpad of his MacBook.

      • Force Touch was brought to the new mac because they wanted to get rid of the mechanical trackpad. The new trackpad is thinner and less likely to break. Force Touch on a large touch screen adds a new method of interacting with the phones user interface. We have no experience with Force Touch on iOS.

    • DevXav

      Well, I completely disagree with you that it’s gonna drop, specially because it’s not even announced and we still have NO CLUE about the whole new idea of the feature..

      Time will tell, lets wait and see.

    • Shadowelite123

      Has long tapping dropped? Do people not long tap on android? I’m pretty sure they do to this day.

  • It complicates it more, giving you more to learn and will not be used for long. Same as the air view and other air gestures no Samsung user ever uses. It’s sounds good but I don’t think its a life changer and not sold on it at all.. Not even on my Apple watch…

    • Is there even any indication that an item can be force touched? How will we know?

      • anustart

        Apple: “AND IN THIS NEW DEVICE WE’RE INCLUDING FORCE TOUCH.” And they’ll spend a good 30 minutes talking about it. That is how you’ll know.

      • By item I didn’t mean phone.

      • No you just have to figure out if the screen you are on can be force touched. Then remember if it can or not.

    • anustart

      Exactly. Those features were so useless Samsung removed them… They’re nowhere to be found on my S6. Force Touch provides nothing over a long press other than saving maybe a fraction of a second.

    • Juschan

      i guess its nothing you would expect you need … air view never worked well in my s4 thats why i never used it besides to show of the feature … if force touch is deeply integrated and will work as u would expect it to it will be used and adopted by users … ita like touchscreens… presure touchscreens never worked well and nobody knew they would need a touchscreen anyway but since everybody saw the positiv effects of this technology it happened to become an industrial standart with any smartphones tablets and even laptops

    • Alberto Espinal

      Jay maybe our phones with Force Touch will be our new TV controller, remember maybe  is going to become the new cable company

      • If only the new phones have the IR sensor.. With out the IR the current remote sucks. Not sure how the force touch would make it any better.

      • IR is old technology and not something I could ever see Apple supporting (but then again I might be wrong). It relies on line of sight which means if you don’t have a perfect line of sight it won’t work. Bluetooth, NFC and Wifi are superior in every respect to IR.

      • Mike

        Its pretty good because you can control other things with it like your tv, projector, dvd player, and etc.

      • Or you could just buy a harmony remote or harmony hub or similar device which will do all of this for you…

        It doesn’t make sense to add IR to smartphones in the year 2015. We should be discouraging the technology and getting vendors to adopt more modern technology.

      • People don’t really want expensive and/or universal remotes. The remotes get misplaced far more often then phones in the house.

      • I know its old, but it works far better for controling the Apple TV with it. the network control either scrolls too fast and difficult to learn, When someone misplaces the tiny Apple tv remote that’s the only option. It feels very subpar. I don’t see tvs changing to anything else anytime soon either.

      • Mike

        Samsung Note 4 has that!

      • Just about all Samsung’s and note smart phones have itHTC’s too.. iPhone needs it but it’s not something ill leave apple for…

  • Jordan

    I can see this being revolutionary and I can see it not being revolutionary. Either way, I’d still take an iPhone with force touch than one without it.

  • Valinor

    “Should the next iPhone adopt Force Touch?”

    Oh come on, if you ask it like that, offcourse everyone is gonna say yes. We all want new functions.
    The point is that its not as revolutionary as people/Apple make it out to be.
    Yeah, its a nice feature if you have it, but its not a game changer. Like Rotor says, people will forget they even have it after a while.
    Other then touchid, the iphones havent had any killer new features since the iphone 4s. Yeah maybe if you live in the US you can count Apple pay. But other then that its just minor tweaks they copy from the jailbreak community.

    • iBanks

      As of my clicking on the poll, not everyone said yes. 15% said not sure. 10% said won’t make sense and 11% don’t care. 67% said yes. So nope, not everyone said yes.

  • Btw, the choices suck. Yeah it makes sense but it could’ve been implemented a long time ago with a long tap.

    • Shadowelite123

      Man you seen to either not read, or you’re blind.

  • Mario Britten

    In my opinion Force Touch on iOS is completely non-sense. This all can be done with a “short hold”. I would even claim this would take the exact amount of time you would need to if you “forcetouch” something.

  • momerathe

    I’ve turned off force touch on my Macbook.

    • Was it annoying or just useless?

    • iPhoneWINS

      i did also.. it was useless and annoying

    • Mike

      my sister got the new macbook with force touch… still have no clue what the hell it does other letting me click anywhere on the trackpad

  • iBanks

    Doesn’t matter to me if it comes or not, I’m sure there will be some benefit. Just don’t let this become the new Blackberry Storm.

  • anustart

    “software like painting and image editing apps could simulate various brushes and strokes depending on how firmly you press your finger against an iPhone’s screen.”

    You can still achieve this with a long press. Instead of pressing harder and having the brush or stroke change as soon as your pressure changes, you can press for a longer period of time, maybe 3 seconds, and then your brush or stroke will change. Now you may argue that you’d want to long press to access a menu, but if a developer is going to incorporate a change your stroke with a long tap feature, he’s gonna make a menu accessible in a different way.Why would he make the same action do two different things in the same area?

    “Another example: on new Mac notebooks outfitted with Force Touch-enabled trackpads, you can vary the pressure you use on the fast-forward and rewind buttons in QuickTime and iMovie applications in order to accelerate the speed at which you fast forward or rewind just by varying the degree of pressure. The effect simply cannot be achieved without ability to measure the levels of force so you can easily imagine Force Touch lending itself perfectly to, say, quickly scrubbing through video in iOS’s media player.”

    Yes, that effect can be achieved. What do you do? Put your cursor on top of the forward and backward/rewind buttons in QuickTime/VLC/etc and yet again long tap, or in this case click, on the button. You could do that, or you could just use your arrow keys on the keyboard.

    • Shadowelite123

      I’m appalled at the level of ignorance in this post…

      • anustart

        I’m appalled that you still cannot see that there is a negligible difference between force touch and a long press.

      • Shadowelite123

        You made an accidental point in your dissection of the painting example that actually helps me. So thank you. Should you long tap a paintbrush and should it change its stroke and size like you mentioned, you won’t be able to change it back without removing your finger. In addition, a long tap becomes obsolete after the finger has moved from its starting position. Using force touch would allow the user to change strokes while moving from his or her fingers original position. This is an obvious situation you clearly did not acknowledge due to ignorance, but it’s ok, it happens. This would be the same situation with the media scrubbing example. A long tap would cause the scrubbing to increase in speed as there is no going back down in speed. With force touch you would be able to slow down the scrubbing speed or speed it up if needed. You also failed to realize that. Also, I’d like to know if android actually uses long tapping as you described. I’ve owned 4 android phones and I’ve yet to see that kind of use. I wonder why. Oh right because it’s not logical. With all the things Google stuffs into android, would it have no made sense to add that implementation use into android? Plus the painting thing would have been used by the developers who create painting apps, wouldn’t they? Oh right because it doesn’t benefit the user in any way more than having to stop painting to change strokes. Yes there are little differences between a long tap and force touch but guess what? Force touch is an evolution from long tapping and we are on iOS, not android.

      • Hardly anyone paints on their phone just like hardly anyone uses newsstand. To make such a huge change just to benefit painters doesn’t make any sense. And you bring up media scrubbing as if that issue hasn’t been solved years ago simply by dragging your finger down when scrubbing. It’s not an issue, therefore not a pro of force touch.

  • iPhoneWINS

    this would only be effective if the screen had functional tactile feedback technology that let your finger know how hard or soft the screen was being pressed..

    this tech failed on the PS3 controller cause there was not enough button travel to facilitate discernible levels of pressing

  • iPhoneWINS

    see that image up do that shows a depressed surface indicating a touch? right for this to function properly the screen surface would have to respond in that matter which is impossible cause its a solid static

  • Lagax

    No, because:
    1. It adds another layer of complexity, of which, after iOS 7, we already have too many in iOS
    2. Normal users won’t get it
    3. This “paint brush” thing is just a completely meaningless example, because that functionality would only apply to a VERY limited range of customers, especially on an iPhone
    4. Fast forward, along with the examples given in the video, could all be archived through long pressing

    • anustart

      To all the haters, I say suck it. Nice comment.

  • Chindavon

    The sequel is already out.

    • anustart


  • rockdude094

    Where is the meh guy when you need him

  • anustart


  • Kyle McNulty – Mclovin341

    I’m all for Apple integrating this into their phones, can only improve the experience can’t make it worse. Be interesting to see how the OS can benefit from force touch.
    Another feature to be copied by Android phone companies.

  • Joonyaboy

    I think developers will get smart on how to implement.

    Imagine racing games where you are holding the throttle but ForceTouch invokes Nitro. Or you a Star Wars game where you hold someone but then ForceTouch to Force choke them!!

    A puzzle game where you are constantly dragging a piece around but a ForceTouch rotates the piece.

    A shooting game where long press shoots repetitively but ForceTouch doubles the amount of bullets.

    A running/jumping game where a ForceTouch makes the character jump even higher (because it would take too long to wait for a long press)

    A fighting game where ForceTouch invokes a harder hit but slows you down.

    I’m not a developer, but it’s easy to see there are plenty of option to arise from extra input.

  • Jake Platt

    I have the 2015 MB and I have barely used force touch, nor have I found a circumstance where it was or could be useful. I do think it could be a little more useful on a phone however.

  • George

    Still hella dumb.

  • mav3rick

    The “misunderstood” force touch…

  • Anonymous

    This force touch topic is hilarious everyone gets in a heated argument Ha ha ha. Im excited for the tech, but i love reading the comments as of right now. Hope to see more news on forcus touch.

  • The Fluffy Alpaca

    I’m all in for less tapping. The menus in iOS can get a bit too deep as it is today.

  • Joonyaboy

    Another use could be ForceTouch and HomeScreen Icon to clear red Notifications icon

  • Mike

    ForceTouch is going to be lame but with all these apple users that have zero clue about it they will make it seem like a big deal. I bet its the same thing as long pressing just gave a different name to it like they always do.

    • Lagax

      When do they ever give something different name that’s the same? It’s definitely a different technology, that’s why I don’t get your comment at all, sorry…

  • It does not make sense on the watch so it doesen’t make sense on the phone.