When Apple announced that the big new feature for the iPhone 6S was 3D Touch, I tweeted something snarky. Despite being immensely relieved that Apple appears to have expired the inappropriate-sounding ‘Force Touch’ moniker, the ability to press harder for another menu or preview just didn’t seem all that important. “Please. No one pay full price to update to long press. This isn’t exactly Siri. #AppleEvent,” read my tweet.
I think I might have been wrong.
3D Touch is a total Apple-ism, but, reading past the over-the-top marketing, it’s basically akin to a right click function for your phone. Press down hard on an icon or email and the device will recognize the added pressure, causing a contextual menu or preview to pop up. It’s not a very sexy sounding feature, and upon first impression, I found it yawn-inducing. “It’s an improvement that will save us seconds every day. Whatever,” I thought. But then I got to thinking how important a few seconds over a few years is. Like pocket change, it adds up quickly.
Here’s the deal: Apple makes a big hurrah out of the small things. To Android users, this is infuriating. Used to less than ideal opportunities to customize their devices, and the flexibility to install any number of imperfect workarounds, Apple’s late-to-the-party tweaks often feel inconsequential. Android users aren’t wrong to feel this way, especially since Apple’s refinements to Android’s complicated user experience are often given credit for popularizing or mainstreaming Android’s experiments.
This time, instead of looking to Android for improvement to make on iOS, Apple looked to the desktop. They recognized how important the back / right click is in our day-to-day lives and decided to work that functionality into their mobile devices. For those of you that may not remember, Apple famously removed the right click trigger from their mouse in the early 2000’s for simplicity’s sake, only to add it back a few years later. Now, in 2015, Apple is “inventing” the right click on mobile.
Whether it’s an icon on your desktop that you want to delete, a photo online that you want to save or an image you want to search for on Google, right click saves us the hassle of remembering keyboard shortcuts and navigating complicated menus. 3D Touch does the same. For example, you can now press hard on the Maps icon to immediately navigate home via a contextual menu. It only saves around ten seconds, sure, but that time really matters while you’re driving and, over a lifetime, those ten seconds add up. Apple may have Siri which can automate things already, but let’s get real – talking to your phone is not always easy or appropriate. I once had a friend who would pause the music in my car to say, “Okay, Google. How old is Beyonce?” This is a bad friend. This friend should use 3D Touch.
Do I think people should pay $700 for 3D Touch and a slightly better camera? Absolutely not, even if Apple’s new $20 monthly payment plan is appealing. In fact, I don’t think most people will understand what 3D Touch is until they get their hands on it. Once they do though, I bet they’re going to wonder how they ever lived without it.