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9 minutes read

4 Ways 3D Touch New Gestures Affects All New App Development

By Robert Kazmi
By Robert Kazmi
9 minutes read

Apple’s 3D Touch Display opens up endless possibilities for app development.

And many are already taking advantage of this new feature.

Now that it’s available, all app developers have a chance to integrate new gestures, menus, shortcuts and more 3D Touch Display features into their apps.

Aside from the Internet of Things and its impact on apps, this is a more tangible new development for mobile apps.
Where did this feature come from?

It All Started With Force Touch Technology

If you currently own an Apple Watch or a newer macbook, then you know what Force Touch is.

And you probably love it.

Your friends have probably borrowed your laptop only to ask you how to click, but the second you showed them, they were sold too.

Force Touch is the latest trackpad tech in Apple laptops. It’s made possible due to “haptic feedback.”

Here’s a description in tech blog Pocket-Lint’s Force Touch article:

“Haptic feedback allows the trackpad to recreate of the sense of touch by simulating vibrations and other motions, meaning it’ll let you feel a click on the trackpad, even though the trackpad isn’t actually moving downward when clicked.”

While this article is about 3D Touch Display possibilities in new and future apps, learning how Apple’s Force Touch tech works will help you realize how amazing 3D Touch Display technology really is.

Here’s an image of the haptic feedback layout that makes Force Touch:

Haptic Feedback Force Touch

What Are “Haptic Clicks” And Why Does It Matter?

With 3D Touch Display there are far more than 3 haptic clicks. How many more? We don’t know because that’s something that Apple currently wants to keep secret.

Apple won’t say exactly how many levels of pressure-sensitivity there are, but it’s definitely so many as to feel almost analog, like the interface is reacting in real time to physical pressure.

Think of it as having endless haptic responsive clicks, because that’s what it feels like in most pros’ opinions. No matter where your fingers press the screen, 3D Touch feels it. And it knows which fingers are pushing the hardest.

In mid-September, Apple unleashed its 3D Touch Display. It’s by far the best feature on the iPhone 6s (although severely underutilized.)

3D Touch Display was released alongside the latest iPhone 6s. Many of the Apple apps were already ready for it. But now many others are beginning to join in on the fun.

And that’s the key to future development with 3D Touch Gesture.

Because this is still very new, it’s going to take much trial and error until we see what sticks.

For now, experimentation is the key for app developers. It’s a new set of limitations and possibilities, which further challenges you and your team’s imagination and boundaries.

Can you imagine a retail mobile app, or even a mobile app for banks, utilizing this feature, especially some of the best available?)

4 Ways 3D Touch Display Will Affect Future App Development

The advantage for Apple with existing 3D Touch apps currently available are that they have had plenty of time to integrate it into most of their apps.

They knew what was coming and leveraged that to the point to where they have it integrated on most their apps.

But other app developers are joining the bandwagon in full-force right now.

The app marketplace is open game as far as 3D Touch Display gestures go, and within the next few months we will see many new apps utilizing 3D Touch Display features in new ways for apps.

Here are four ways we might see 3D Touch Display utilized in future apps.

1. 3D Touch Display To Level The App Playing Field

Right now and for the near future, 3D Touch Display will serve as a glorified right-click.

But when more and more app developers learn how to use it and integrate it, and do new things with it, it will not just be a cool trick your phone can do.

It will be the greatest thing for everyone since multitouch.

Here’s The Verge’s Walt Mossberg on 3D Touch Display and what it means to the future of apps:

“It’s kind of like right click on OS X — the interface is designed to be used without it, but once you realize it’s there, it’s incredibly useful, and you want every app to make solid, consistent use of it. In that sense, 3D Touch won’t really be that useful or revolutionary until third parties really grab on to it.”

It’s up to developers to integrate this newest technological mobile context and create popular usage out of pressure sensitive actions.

2. Quick Action Shortcuts

One of the major advancements in mobile 3D Touch provides, is a 2-in-1 click.

Rather than click once, wait, then click again, 3D Touch Display shortcuts that and lets you do 2 actions instantaneously with one click.

It’s the new Force Touch sensor’s ability to sense three dimensions of pressure, rather than just two.

The shortcut possibilities are quite endless. Let’s take a look at a couple currently under deploy.

Quick Navigation: Within Apple Maps, you can now press down on the destination to instantly have Siri holding your hand and guiding you there. Up until now, the only way to get those turn-by-turn navigations was to search for it, click it, wait for the next screen to load, then click again to get it into navigation mode.

Thanks to 3D Touch, you can do this all in one swift move. However you’re still in Apple’s Map app currently to utilize these 3D Touch map app features.

Apple’s Music App: Within Apple’s Music app, you can do a quick force click and see options such as adding it to the que or saving for offline use. Just like with maps, you don’t have to click again, wait, then click again.

Smule’s Magic Piano app: CEO Jeff Smith shared his thoughts about the massive changes 3D Touch has brought his popular piano player app:

“What’s happened with this new technology is we’ve moved from the harpsichord to the Steinway.”

In the past the only way to make your playing unique was to play select notes for longer durations. That is stone age compared to what you can do now; play with a musicians touch.

What this means is that your training wheels just came off. It’s like hopping from a Rock Band guitar to a real guitar.

Apple can actually gauge pressure from each individual finger being pressed on the screen simultaneously. So like a real musician you can hold down a chord, emphasizing certain notes, and sure enough, the app will dynamically react very similar to as if you were playing a real instrument.

This means that technically, Magic Piano, and future music apps that use 3D Touch Display are real actual instruments.

3. Visual Browsing With “Peeking”

A couple 3rd party apps that already taking advantage of this feature are News360 and Pinterest.

This Tom’s Guide article shares the latest and greatest apps available for the iPhone 6 and 6s.

“The visual browsing of Pinterest is perfect for 3D Touch. Press on an item and you’ll see a larger preview, plus a cool custom radial menu that lets you pin or share that item with a brief swipe. The “peek” will fluctuate slightly in size with your finger pressure, which is a pretty amazing effect. Pinterest’s app developers did some really excellent work with their support of 3D Touch, and it’s just the beginning.”

In Mail, you can open a message by pushing on it and deciding to open after viewing a preview only available with 3D Touch. At that point you can slide on that same fluid motion finger-press after viewing preview to archive or delete.

Not only that, if you push down harder, the message will open.

All on the same single press of your finger.

This will transform busy phone-filled days with busy phone-filled days, but with 10x as much done.

4. Endless Possibilities? Only Scratching The Surface

It’s anyone’s guess right now where this technology is going to go.

We can all conceptualize, but the fact of the matter is it will take someone to take chances.

If that’s you, you will reap rewards of being the first to have breakthroughs, or being the first to learn from experience in this new mobile space.

Looking at current apps using 3D Touch Display might help spark some ideas.

For example, like the finger sketching now available in Notes. 3D Touch has made Notes in the same way it did to Magic Piano, a real-life notebook.

What’s Next For You With “3D Touch”?

Apple’s done the work by creating such a unique phone feature, as well as a ton of apps loaded with 3D capabilities.

Some will attempt to maximize those. Others might get a little more abstract with it.

All methods seem to be just as promising.

It’s a whole new interface and UX paradigm, with promising potential.

Developers will need to experiment a lot before deciding on a common language and usage.

It blurs out any existing limitations to your imagination and pushes the boundaries further.

For now, this means what 3D Touch actually does, and how it works, will vary from app to app. There aren’t many rules of usage outside of the “peek”, “pop” and quick action API’s.

How could your next mobile app make use of 3D Touch?

Tweet this out or shoot us an email at [email protected] if you have any idea you want to check with our experts.

Got a project you want to discuss? Send us a quick message and let’s start a conversation.

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