I’ve had my new iPhone 6s for a few weeks now, and while there are a lot of cool things to talk about, the one feature that I “geek out” over is 3D Touch. Admittedly, this is a surprise to me because I never really understood what 3D Touch was supposed to do or why it would enhance my life. I think that’s because the only point of comparison we had prior to the iPhone 6s was the Apple Watch, and I don’t think the implementation of 3D/Force Touch is all that great on that device.
What is 3D Touch?
If you don’t have an iPhone 6s yet, you might not know exactly what I’m talking about, so let me explain. 3D Touch is a new technology built into the screen of the new iPhone 6s devices. When a user presses down with a certain amount of force the iPhone realizes the user is using 3D Touch and automatically triggers a predefined action that the app developer has set up for that app. For the most part it seems like 3D Touch is being adopted as a shortcut mechanism, giving you quicker access to the things you do most with certain applications. For instance, if you 3D Touch the Facebook app on your iPhone, it will display a pop-up window that allows you to jump directly into writing a status, sharing a photo/video, or taking a photo/video to post. This saves you the trouble of launching the app and then searching for the right button to hit once you load it up.
Within the group of apps I currently have installed on my device there are 30 that make use of 3D Touch in one form or another. While a majority of those apps are pre-installed Apple apps like Notes, Mail, and iTunes, there are a few developers that have started putting 3D Touch capabilities into their apps, and I’m simply loving it.
How I’m Using 3D Touch Today
My favorite implementation of 3D Touch is that of Overcast, a popular podcast app developed by Marco Arment. I listen to a ton of podcasts, and Overcast is my favorite app for downloading and streaming my favorite shows. With the latest update I can now use 3D Touch to resume playing previous episodes, recommend a current episode to friends, view past episodes of the current show I’m listening to, and jump right into the most recently downloaded show on my device. This is going to be extremely helpful when I travel, and I’m already using it quite a bit.
Dropbox is another app that uses 3D Touch, and in doing so it’s made me use the iOS app a lot more than I did previously. Now a simple touch on the Dropbox icon allows me to search my Dropbox for files, upload a photo directly, access my offline files, and view my most recently added files, all without having to launch the actual app first. I use Dropbox on my iOS devices to move photos around. In fact, the screenshots in this article were synced to my desktop via Dropbox, and using 3D Touch to initiate that process was extremely easy.
Why You Should Care About 3D Touch
Ok, so what’s the big deal about 3D Touch? I mean, it’s just shortcut, right? Well, yes, but it’s one of the biggest UI changes iOS has had in quite some time. I think it shows that Apple is progressing and I think this iteration of it is just the beginning. As more developers begin to add 3D Touch capabilities to their apps it’s going to make doing work on an iOS device that much easier.
The true test 3D Touch will come with the next wave of iOS devices, like the iPad Pro. As Apple experiments with larger, prosumer level devices, developers will need to find new and interesting things to do with 3D Touch, and that too will push the platform forward.
At the end of the day, for any phone upgrade to be worth it, it needs to enrich your daily routine in some way. Processor speed alone isn’t going to do that, but adding a faster way to access and share information surely will. Originally I had thought that the camera would be the feature I was most excited about on my iPhone 6S, but now it’s clear that I was wrong, and 3D Touch is indeed the killer feature of these devices. I’m excited to see where 3D Touch shows up next and how it will continue to help push the iOS platform forward in the future.