Why Apple’s Force Touch technology was Monday’s most interesting announcement

There was a lot of interesting aspects to Apple’s Monday keynote. The Apple Watch is compelling, although I still have not decided if the first generation is for me. The new Macbook is exciting. The only thing we ever plug into our family laptop is the power cord. The idea of lighter, simpler and smaller really appeals to me. And the ResearchKit SDK is fascinating. I hope it really helps us solve some of life’s most troubling diseases. Given all that, though, the minute or two spent on Force Touch technology was the most interesting.

When Apple introduced the iPhone, one of the biggest innovations was Apple’s touch layer. For really the first time we could use a finger to scroll around a screen, zoom in with a tap, gesture with a pinch motion and more.

All of these gestures, though, were two-dimensional across the surface of the device. With Force Touch, Apple now makes touches three-dimensional. The force applied to the touch will also have meaning.

Think of all the ways this could be used by developers:

  • A game could use Force Touch to indicate how hard to throw a weapon
  • Drawing apps can thicken the line based on the force used to touch the screen
  • Note-taking apps with pen input can use force to distinguish between the pen and the wrist resting on the device, significantly improving palm rejection (and opening up true pen input)
  • Buttons can take on additional meaning, revealing power user functionality based on the force of a tap

There are already rumors that Apple will be integrating the technology into iPhones. This is a no-brainer and hopefully Force Touch will be a standard iPad feature as well. Adding a third-dimension to touch interaction could open a world of fascinating possibilities, one that no other device manufacturer has.

2 thoughts on “Why Apple’s Force Touch technology was Monday’s most interesting announcement

  1. Surface Pro has had pressure sensitive screen from the beginning so the “Force Touch” is hardly anything new. Hopefully with Apple putting it into phones will make it more mainstream feature. The new MacBook, IMO, is a disappointment without an option for touch screen. I am thinking my next machine will be a Windows machine instead as I write my iOS applications using Visual Studio on Parallels anyway and use the OSX as a build host mostly.

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