Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Google’s Software-based 3D Touch

Dieter Bohn:

But there was one line on Google’s support page for the update that caught my eye (emphasis mine): “In addition to long press, you can now firmly press to get more help from your apps more quickly.”

“Firmly press” sets off alarm bells because it sounds a lot like the iPhone’s 3D Touch, which enables different actions depending on how hard you press on the touchscreen.


But now, it seems that Google has done the same thing for the touchscreen that it does with the camera: use its software algorithms to make commodity parts do something special.


Essentially, this new feature lets you press harder to bring up long-press menus faster. In fact, Google’s documentation for Android’s Deep Press API explicitly says it should never do a new thing, it should only be a faster way to execute a long press.

Via Nick Heer:

As of last year, the hardware-based version of 3D Touch no longer exists; new iPhones do not have the component that registers touch pressure, and iPads never did. It’s kind of interesting that Google decided that now was an ideal time to replicate in software the ability to detect pressure — something which, as far as I can figure out, iOS does not do.


4 Comments RSS · Twitter

I've wondered why Apple didn't do this instead of/or when they removed the physical 3D touch sensor. GarageBand has simulated touch pressure since v1 on the very first iPad.

That said, I don't mourn the loss of 3D touch. It's hard to explain to others and can cause a lot of confusion. I like it in theory, but strongly dislike it in practice. On my MacBook I disabled it because I accidentally invoked it all the time.

At least Google doesn't introduce it as a third action in addition to tap and long-tap, but as a quicker way to trigger long-tap. That should make it a lot less confusing than force touch.

Sören Nils Kuklau

@ Lukas: Apple finally realized the error of the ways and made it the same in iOS 13. So if you're still on a 3D Touch device there, you can either long-tap or (much faster) press.

But I guess they still felt the hardware layer just wasn't worth the thickness. Which… hrm. I miss it less than I would have expected, but it does seem like a regression. If they can emulate it like Google has, I'd love that.

(But even if they do that, it wouldn't be quite the same thing. While it was never truly used, 3D Touch had multiple layers of touch depth, which you could even access in your browser. https://freinbichler.me/apps/3dtouch/ is a cool demo of that.)

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