Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Apple Expected to Remove 3D Touch

Joe Rossignol:

Last week, in a research note shared with MacRumors, a team of Barclays analysts “confirmed” that 3D Touch “will be eliminated” in all 2019 iPhones, as they predicted back in August 2018. The analysts gathered this information from Apple suppliers following a trip to Asia earlier this month.


Apple already replaced 3D Touch with Haptic Touch on the iPhone XR in order to achieve a nearly edge-to-edge LCD on the device, and it is likely the feature will be expanded to all 2019 iPhones. Haptic Touch is simply a marketing name for a long press combined with haptic feedback from the Taptic Engine.

Haptic Touch works well, but it isn’t a replacement for 3D Touch because it’s just about feedback, not input. 3D Touch had the potential to be like modifier keys on the Mac, a way to provide an additional “dimension” of input. iOS really needs something like that. I’m not sure why Apple never really did much with it, but the potential was wasted. Given that, and the fact that it never made it across the iPhone product line or to any iPads, I can certainly see why they would get rid of it and doubt most people will miss it (or even knew about it in the first place).

Kyle Howells:

3D Touch should have replaced/been the same as long press in almost all situations. It eliminates wait times and makes everything faster.

Instead Apple confused everything by having 3 different things happen depending on how you tap an app icon.

Neil Sardesai:

Man that’s a shame. Especially on iPad where long press is a super overloaded gesture, 3D Touch would really alleviate that

Russell Ivanovic:

Unpopular opinion I suspect, but 3D touch is one of the worst usability mistakes Apple ever made (IMHO). Difficult gesture that in places like the home screen conflicts with other gestures. I shouldn’t have to be the Lionel Messi of fingers to rearrange my icons 😂

Nick Lockwood:

Damn. 😔 3D touch is great, especially for games - there’s nothing wrong with the tech itself, only the dreadful way Apple chose to integrate it into the UI.

If it had just been introduced as a universal contextual menu shortcut it could’ve been so powerful.

Steven Aquino:

What concerns me is the Touch Bar (and 3D Touch, another thing I like) kind of exist in the netherworld. Limited in availability and largely unrefined.


Update (2019-05-30): Vatsal Manot:

Simply put - it failed to become an idiomatic element of the iPhone’s UX language.


Haptic Touch over 3D Touch is clearly a degraded user experience. Do not let anyone trick you into believing otherwise, Apple most of all.


As a developer, Apple has not made it easy for me to implement a 3D Touch action. Instead of creating a canonical UIGestureRecognizer sublcass for 3D Touch (as they so easily could have), they decided to leave it up to the developer to implement.

John Gruber:

3D Touch is a great idea but Apple never rolled it out well, and it was never discoverable.


I think it should have always been a shortcut for a long-press, pure and simple. Just a faster way to long-press. But because 3D Touch is not just a shortcut for a long-press, but is not available on any iPad nor many iPhones, developers could never count on it, so they never really did anything with it. It doesn’t get used much because there’s not much you can do with it.

Kyle Howells:

Either way without universal support across all iOS devices Apple’s never been able to rely on 3D Touch being there.

This means either they use long press to reveal the same action (as with control centre), or the feature just isn’t available (home screen 3D touch widgets on iPad).

Lily Ballard:

I really hope the rumors are wrong and 3D Touch isn’t going away. Apple hasn’t done enough with 3D Touch but what they have done is irreplaceable. For example, you can peek at Today widgets from Springboard with it! I miss being able to do that on my iPad.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Should iOS have any pro features if users aren’t going to find them? …should macOS have any pro features if users aren’t going to find them? 🧐

Nick Heer:

I would prefer to see improvements to 3D Touch; but, because it hasn’t changed much or been more thoroughly applied in the nearly four years since it was introduced, I think the digital scrap heap is probably best. This rumour, of course, leads to the question of what to do with its dependencies on the iPhone. The biggest question, for me, is what happens to notifications: since they were adjusted in iOS 10 to make use of 3D Touch, they’ve never felt at home on non-3D Touch devices.

Update (2019-05-31): A. Lee Bennett Jr.:

Man that would suck. I agree with many that it isn’t well implemented, but I do use it frequently. I hate that FB actually chose to drop support. I used it to quickly post a photo via 3D Touch on the app icon. And I use it to edit the latest photo with Instaflash ALL the time.

Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

Can’t imagine going back to a world without 3D Touch. I use it multiple times a day and continue to miss it on the iPad. A long press is not a good substitution.

Update (2019-06-04): Joe Rossignol:

Now, on the software side, there are changes that suggest the rumor is accurate. It really looks like pressure-sensitive 3D Touch is going away.

Benjamin Mayo:

3D Touch is basically nerfed into the ground on iOS 13. It doesn’t do anything fast anymore. They’ve instead added Haptic Touch gestures everywhere.

Update (2019-09-11): Juli Clover:

Apple has officially nixed 3D Touch in its newest iPhones.

Update (2019-09-13): Joshua Emmons:

For the first time I’m hesitating about upgrading my iPhone. I don’t want to give up 3D Touch. I know no one else cares, but I use it constantly and bemoan every time I have to “long tap” something on my iPad. Bit by bit it wears my patience down to a nib.

Update (2019-10-03): Juli Clover:

In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Haptic Touch and how it differs from the 3D Touch feature that’s been available since the iPhone 6s.

See also: Hacker News.

14 Comments RSS · Twitter

While I really like 3D Touch, I'm not surprised. It's very confusing when it works on some devices and not others. Also because of the lack of discoverability it confused a ton of people. When it was first introduced I had to explain the difference between hard press and light press and hold to enable moving icons or deleting programs on Springboard. This really was from day one a very poorly implemented feature. Made worse by it being inconsistent on what devices used it. (No iPads for instance)

Curious what they do on the Mac

Ghost Quartz

This really saddens me. Long press feels comparatively slow and already carries too much meaning. It’s even worse on the iPad, where long press _also_ has the duty of initiating drag-and-drop. I hope they don’t also remove Force Touch on the Mac, but I’d probably have less trouble adjusting to that so long as their trackpads continue to use the Taptic Engine.

This should never have shipped in the first place. I don't know how Apple came up with 3D touch, but it feels like something that hardware engineers thought was cool, but that nobody on the software side had asked for, or had any kind of coherent concept for. Which is a totally backwards way of managing the design of a device like the iPhone.

As a general observation, iOS is already confusing enough, and hides too much stuff from users. The last thing it needs is more ways to hide things behind obscure gestures. This can't die soon enough.

3D Touch is the power user option. I genuinely use it every day - quick actions on Springboard, opening up options on notifications, peek and pop, etc. I miss it every time I use my iPad. Long press (with haptic feedback or otherwise) is not a valid replacement for it and it will be a very bad day if it's removed.

Dave Robeson

The "New Tab" Quick Action on the Safari icon is something that I use at least a couple of times a day and saves a few taps every time (including one at the top of the screen which can be inconvenient). I also use Peek and Pop a fair amount. If this is removed this year, it will be the first time I've ever kept an iPhone for more than 2 years. To paraphrase Clemenza: "Leave the Touch Bar. Take the 3D Touch."

I hope Apple does the necessary software improvements to iOS to mitigate the loss of 3DT. There are still some things that 3DT can do (like select a paragraph of text in a split second) that are not possible without it. And other substitutions like Long Press take too long or are not as accurate.

It seems 3DT is dying because Apple itself never really explored how to best use it, nor did they encourage developers to support it. Unfortunately, many of the things that Apple to promote it, like Peek and Pop, always seemed gimmicky to me. I think if Apple would’ve put more effort into it, 3D Touch could have been something really amazing.

I don't have a device that supports 3D touch, but there are times when I tap the screen and nothing happens, or the wrong thing happens, and then I get angry and try again, pressing harder this time. So I think that the proper behavior of 3D touch should be that a hard press does the same thing as a light touch, except the OS also issues a verbal apology for not getting it right the first time. THAT is how you delight your users. :-)

I imagine that I'll find myself asking, "WTF did I just do?" a little less frequently when working with my iDevices.

It’s possible to emulate 3D touch without a 3D-touch-capable screen and without switching to a long-press.

I’ve done it with a fake Geiger counter app (see it on on http://fancyham.com) that works on all iPhones and senses finger pressure, and I believe something similar is done in Garage Band for their drums and keyboards (which work on iPads).

It’s probably less consistent out of the box, but I wouldn’t count this pressure-gesture out.

That said, it’s the equivalent of a control-click on the mac — it’s really hidden.

Well, that sucks if you’re making a painting/drawing/sketching app, or a more than casual game...

I’d agree with this decision if only the slightly unintuitive peek/pop and maybe icon shortcuts were lost.

But there are plenty of places where 3D Touch is used in a completely intuitive way (and without the end user even knowing they’re using it, really: they want a thicker coat of paint so they’re just pressing the screen harder, or they want the drum to sound a bit louder so they thump the screen a bit harder) and it seems like a bean-counter-y move to remove 3D Touch because not all its use cases are equally popular.

And after all, are we not paying north of $1000 for a phone precisely because we do not want a Samsung that is carefully tuned to be as cost effective as possible, but because we want a product where even the edge users and use cases (the proverbial invisible back panel of a drawer that Steve Jobs’ father also sanded down and carefully painted) deserve attention?

@Leo those don't necessarily need 3D Touch to work. Like @fancyham mentioned Garage Band has had pressure-sensitive drums & instruments since way before 3D Touch came around. I can't remember if it uses the accelerometer or the surface area of your finger to calculate pressure. But it's always worked well, since v1 was released on early iPhones/iPads.

>are we not paying north of $1000 for a phone precisely because we do not
>want a Samsung that is carefully tuned to be as cost effective as possible

Samsung is the exact wrong example for this. If you want expensive phones that have cool niche features with a lot of attention to detail, then you need to stop buying Apple devices, and switch to Samsung immediately. They have a phone that comes with a fully-integrated, super nicely made pressure-sensitive pen, ffs. Coincidentally, that phone also has an actually useful amount of memory, and a large battery, unlike anything Apple currently has on offer.

Apple has long stopped being the company that sands the back of the drawer. Unfortunately, they still charge "back of the drawer sanded" prices.

" except the OS also issues a verbal apology for not getting it right the first time"

Or maybe just a shrill plea of "mercy master!"

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