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Understand the Significance of 3D Touch Technology

Mobile Touch 

In early September of 2015, Apple unveiled its 3D Touch feature for iPhones. It's an interface option that stands to revolutionize how people interact with their devices, just like the mouse did for computers. Like the mouse before it, it will take some time for 3D Touch to become an everyday device, but eventually it will fall into common use. To understand the significance of 3D Touch technology and how it will change they way people use smartphones, let's take a look at how it works and what it is capable of doing.

Display Is the Thing

At the heart of 3D Touch is a new pressure-sensitive display screen that enables the iPhone to detect variable amounts of pressure being applied. This allows for a subtle difference in how touch interacts with a device. Rather than being exclusively for selection, developers can use variable pressure to allow users to manipulate as well as select.

However, only devices with 3D Touch displays, such as the iPhone 6s Plus, can recognize this input and interact with these elements within apps. As app developers incorporate 3D Touch into their apps, more smartphone manufacturers will make their devices with 3D Touch displays in an attempt to keep their devices relevant to users. In this way, the new iPhone display is the beginning of a revolution in smartphone design.

Possibilities of Touch

When it comes to the possibilities of 3D Touch, the potential is tremendous. Different amounts of pressure and types of movement can activate various functions in apps. For example, lightly sweeping text might scroll it while applying gentle pressure and sweeping might highlight it. The key is for developers to keep this function simple and intuitive. At first, it may seem like an over-hyped right click function, but as developers incorporate subtle features, they will also normalize the use of pressure in smartphone interactions.

Apps With 3D Touch

There are already apps using the 3D Touch feature in remarkable ways. For instance, The Verge reports that Bandit's Shark Showdown app helps stroke patients rebuild hand dexterity. Players apply varying levels of pressure to the iPhone’s touchscreen to control the speed and force of the game’s animated dolphin character. Hand dexterity is a combination of fine motor control and applied force, both of which can be trained and rebuilt with the help of 3D Touch technology.

Touch sensitivity offers a huge opportunity for smartphones to become more useful tools for artists and graphic designers. The app Procreate lets artists draw strokes using pressure, just like they would with a physical brush. The 3D Touch feature also offers a pressure-sensitive option for zooming, rotating and spinning objects in three-dimensional space. These kinds of applications have traditionally been rather clumsy on smartphones, but the invention of a more sensitive touch display means that delicate control will finally be available on the iPhone.

Gamers also are seeing uses of 3D Touch. For example, the game Breakneck has pressure control to fly an aircraft through obstacles. More and more developers are figuring out how to apply this feature to their games to give users a better experience.

Published Tuesday, February 16, 2016 4:42 PM by David Marshall
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