Thursday, September 10, 2015

iPhone 6s and 3D Touch

Jason Snell:

The killer feature here is 3D Touch, and while it’s a little confusing to watch, it makes perfect sense when that iPhone is in your hand. I was really impressed with how smart the iPhone is at detecting different levels of pressure. In the few minutes that I was using an iPhone 6S, I never found myself tapping instead of using 3D Touch, and never found myself accidentally “popping” when I was meant to “peek.”

Josh Tyrangiel:

Apple isn’t in the habit of explaining how it makes things work, because the people at Samsung can read, and hold a patent on a similar technology. But in lieu of the usual polite deflection, Federighi picked up an iPhone 6S and explained one of 3D Touch’s simpler challenges: “It starts with the idea that, on a device this thin, you want to detect force. I mean, you think you want to detect force, but really what you’re trying to do is sense intent. You’re trying to read minds. And yet you have a user who might be using his thumb, his finger, might be emotional at the moment, might be walking, might be laying on the couch. These things don’t affect intent, but they do affect what a sensor [inside the phone] sees. So there are a huge number of technical hurdles. We have to do sensor fusion with accelerometers to cancel out gravity—but when you turn [the device] a different way, we have to subtract out gravity. … Your thumb can read differently to the touch sensor than your finger would. That difference is important to understanding how to interpret the force. And so we’re fusing both what the force sensor is giving us with what the touch sensor is giving us about the nature of your interaction. So down at even just the lowest level of hardware and algorithms—I mean, this is just one basic thing. And if you don’t get it right, none of it works.”


“Why would we spend this many years working on 3D Touch when you can do some of these things with a button? Well it’s, it’s just such a fluid connection with your content,” says Ive, a little dreamily. “And not everything is binary, is it?”

John Gruber:

“3D Touch” is the new “Force Touch” (Craig Federighi slipped at one point, saying “force” before correcting himself.) I’ve seen concerns that this overcomplicates the iPhone’s UI design, but I would argue the opposite. It’s the multi-touch equivalent of keyboard shortcuts on the desktop: shortcuts for tasks that can all be accomplished without it. To use the old parlance, 3D Touch is for power users.

There’s no 4-inch model, but perhaps 3D Touch will ameliorate the problems with reaching on larger screens. The easier app switching and trackpad mode look great.

Husain Sumra:

While Apple didn’t discuss AppleCare+ pricing as it unveiled the new iPhone 6s and 6 Plus today at its “Hey Siri” event, the Cupertino company did unveil new pricing for the service on its website. AppleCare+ for both devices is $129.99 while its service fee is $99.99.

This is an increase from the pricing for iPhone 6 and earlier models, which are priced at $99.99 for AppleCare+ and $79.99 for the service fee.

Benjamin Mayo:

In the promo video, Apple shows a shot of the iPhone 6s internals. As it happens, this render is extremely detailed and you can actually make out the battery specifications inscribed onto the battery. Its rated at 1715mAh, which is down from the 1810mAH packed into the previous iPhone 6.

It seems that Apple has had to shrink the battery to make space for new features like the 3D Touch screen and the Taptic Engine. However, according to Apple’s technical specifications, it shouldn’t make a difference. The battery life estimates for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 are identical.

Update (2015-09-10): The iPhone 6s has 2 GB of RAM, up from 1 GB in the iPhone 6. It’s also about half an ounce heavier, about the same as the increase from the 5s to the 6.

David Smith:

In the end Apple has decided to continue offering a product that will almost inevitably fail their customer at some point, and potentially fail them at a moment of deep personal importance. That makes me sad, and as someone who makes my living riding their coattails, worried about the long term effects of this short term thinking. Maybe it is just sentimentality but those aren’t the priorities that I think Apple stands for.

Update (2015-09-11): Ken Segall:

The marketing theme for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus — The only thing that’s changed is everything — seems designed to counter the popular perception that S-years are off-years. […] Well … Apple wouldn’t have to address the knee-jerk criticism if it didn’t create this “off-year” perception with its choice of names. In this case, it is certainly reaping what it has sown.

Update (2015-09-16): Joe Rossignol:

Apple published Environmental Reports for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus that reveal the devices are about 11% heavier than their predecessors, as first noted by The Verge. But the additional weight comes almost entirely from the 3D Touch display, which weighs nearly twice as much as a regular ion-strengthened display.

Update (2015-09-25): Jason Snell:

Every time I intended to use 3D Touch to “push” an icon on the iPhone home screen, the feature activated and a contextual menu popped into view, accompanied by a tiny vibration to indicate that I had succeeded with my gesture. The extension of that gesture–sliding my finger or thumb down to the right menu item and then letting go–felt natural after a single try.


The best way I can describe it is that for all my attempts to get 3D Touch to misunderstand me, it just couldn’t do it. I didn’t need to use the heavy-fingered press I have to use on the Apple Watch–the 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s is almost gentle.


Getting this right was a tough problem to solve, so tough that most of us who tried to envision the feature before it was announced had a hard time imagining how it could possibly succeed. But, as someone who has held the iPhone 6s in my hand, I can tell you that it really does.

Ken Segall:

If Apple weren’t hell-bent on reinforcing the”tick-tock” idea, it wouldn’t need to run commercials that aim to counter the perception. Nor would there be a need to overcome S inertia with theme lines like “The only thing that’s changed is everything.”

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

I'm still not convinced a big phone that doesn't feel good in my hand with these features is going to play any better than a too big phone without them.

As a developer I'm going to need to get one of these eventually, but I'm going to hang onto a 5s as my actual phone as long as I can manage it. If Apple never releases another 4" phone, I might be in the awkward position of having an Apple phone for development purposes only and an Android or Windows phone for personal use.

That said, does anyone ship a reasonable 4" phone?

@Fred I tried a 6 again yesterday, and it does still feel big and too slippery. But I’m going to upgrade because of a problem with my 5s’s camera. They aren’t selling larger capacity 5s’s anymore, and it probably wouldn’t make sense to get another one at this point, anyway.

The diffuculty in acquiring a 64gb iphone 5s was the primary reason I stayed with a 6 for so many months. Now that the 5s is yet another generation older, it's really hard to justify buying one on the second-hand market.

You should post your feedback after using one for a while to let us know how it's working out.

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