What is iOS Force Touch and how will it affect user interaction?

12 August 2015

Rumours have been rife regarding the new features for the Apple iPhone 6s and iPhone 6S Plus, which should be releasing later this year. Though most iOS users would probably be looking forward to the promise of an increase in CPU speed, improved battery life (and finally a “low power” mode), or a better camera (12 megapixels) – there is one feature we feel in particular promises a significant change in how we interact with the new range of phones – namely Force Touch.

Force Touch?

Some of you may be wondering what Force Touch is exactly? In Apple’s exact words:

“Force Touch uses tiny electrodes around the flexible Retina display to distinguish between a light tap and a deep press, and trigger instant access to a range of contextually specific controls.”

This is a method in which the amount of pressure exerted by the user, defines an exact action. For example, when forwarding a video, the amount of pressure used will influence the speed it is forwarded at. Or in Maps, you could look up a location and immediately start navigating to it by using Force Touch, and bypass a number of added steps / clicks you would normally have taken. For any other application utilising the technology, it could open a menu of various options or shortcuts depending on if you use a simple tap or a deep press.

What does this mean for app developers?

So essentially it’s an easier way to access more settings and features, a more fluid option for using the Apple interface. Many developers are already looking into how Force Touch can uniquely change the way we use their applications, be it for productivity or gaming. But not everybody is convinced yet of its potential. Asher Vollmer, creator of bestselling game Threes, told Business Insider:

“I think it’s just too early to see what the potential is or if people even like it. I have a hunch that people will sort of play with it but not make it part of any major interaction in their apps.”

According to 9to5Mac Force Touch will be making an appearance with the next wave of iPhones but this isn’t a new feature to the range of Apple products, as it has already been used in the latest MacBook and MacBook Pro, and the Apple Watch. Adding Force Touch to iOS is basically then Apple’s way of standardising the user experience across all new Apple products.

Bigger is Better


The iPhone 6 is 6.9mm thick, allegedly 0.2mm will be added to the iPhone 6S

This added feature does come at the slight trade-off though of an extra 0.2mm in terms of thickness. The phones are also rumoured to be slightly bigger due to the series 7000 aluminium chassis that was also used for the Apple Watch Sport (but we can attribute this increase in durability to the infamous “Bendgate” incident of 2014).

It is most likely we’ll only truly know the final details regarding Force Touch and all other iOS additions, as well as hardware improvements in September 2015, when the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus release date is expected to be announced. Which feature are you looking forward to the most?