Apple’s billing its new 3D Touch technology as the ‘next generation of multi-touch,’ but we already wish it could do more.
If by some miracle you haven’t yet heard about the iPhone 6s’s headline new feature, 3D Touch is designed to measure how hard a user presses into the screen to enable new methods of navigation and interaction within iOS. For all of the handy little tweaks it does offer however, there are a few omissions we think Apple should have implemented out the box or at the very least, should add in down the line.
Presently pressing into the default Apple keyboard turns it into a trackpad, letting you accurately place the cursor or highlight text that you’ve typed it. It’s unquestionably faster than pressing and holding on the text, waiting for the little magnifier to appear and find your place, but we have an alternative suggestion.
Chances are you use symbols and numbers far more frequently then you find yourself moving the cursor around or needing to highlight text. As such the ability to 3D Touch into a character on the keyboard to type a number or symbol, instead of having to switch to a second panel of glyphs each time would dramatically streamline the process of adding proper punctuation or even emojis to your messages and emails.
Presently most Android devices offer a similar solution by having the user long press on a letter key to call up a symbol or number instead. The advantage of using 3D Touch is that you wouldn’t have to wait for the phone to respond to a long press, just a hard one. It’s a small tweak that could have big implications.
Over the years Apple has added more control to the iOS camera experience, but the only way to zoom in when snapping a picture is by using two fingers and pulling apart (after which a zoom slider appears on-screen for a short time).
Trying to pull this off one-handed unquestionably increases the likelihood of dropping your iPhone due to the awkward finger placement required to both handle and zoom with the phone, meaning more often than not, this a simple task is more readily a two-handed affair.
In an effort to streamline the whole experience why not let users push into the screen to zoom in or out, such a feature saves time, effort and potentially reduces the risk of tumbling iPhones.
Frequently used apps in folders
Beyond Peek and Pop, the most obvious manifestation of 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s is the ability to press on the icons of apps that support the technology to bring up alternative options.
Why not use the same hard press gesture on folders to quick launch the most frequently used app contained within a selected folder. Again it would make for a small, but effective time saving ability.
Whilst time will likely reduce the presence of this problem, at launch only a handful of apps actually support 3D Touch gestures and many well-known services such as Snapchat and YouTube still have no such functionality.
All trying to use 3D Touch on an app icon that doesn’t support the feature does is fire up the Taptic Engine and blur the screen momentarily. Why not turn a useless animation into a way to quick delete apps, rather than having to long-press, wait for ‘the wiggle’ and then tap to remove as is currently the case.
They say variety is the spice of life and whilst iOS 9 does add in support for six-digit lock screen passcodes in place of four, 3D Touch could add an extra dimension to iOS security.
Why not have the numbers register different levels of force as well as basic placement. Go one step further and similarly to LG’s Knock Code, you could have a blank lock screen that only responds to a mix of light and hard presses in specific locations on-screen, making it a lot harder for prying eyes to try and break in, even if the smears of fingerprints on glass give away the placement of those presses.
If you think of any other useful implementations of 3D Touch that Apple is yet to capitalise on, let us know in the comments below.