How Apple painstakingly built iPhone 6s/Plus’ revolutionary 3D Touch over ‘multi, multi, multi years’

“Apple has made many things over the years, but its process has remained essentially the same: Find something ugly and complicated and make it prettier and easier,” Josh Tyrangiel reports for Bloomberg. “Prettiness, in brushed aluminum, is more or less a permanent state. Ease, however, is constantly evolving, which is why a few days before the geek hootenanny known as Apple’s September Event, Jony Ive’s focus isn’t on a new version of Apple TV or an iPad the size of a doggy door, but on a feature. It’s called 3D Touch, and it makes using an iPhone even easier. ‘Ultimately, this is our focus,’ says Ive, squeezing a new iPhone 6S. ‘This is what galvanizes our efforts right across the company.’ And 3D Touch, he adds with emphasis, ‘is something we’ve been working on for a long time—multi, multi, multi years.'”

“Several years ago the designers and engineers realized that phones contained so many functions—messaging, maps, apps, links, photos, songs—that people were wasting a lot of time retreating to the home button to bounce between them,” Tyrangiel reports. “What if, instead of swiping through apps or routing all of your browsing through the Grand Central station of the home screen, you could press the glass in one function and reveal a shortcut to another? And what if the phone understood this desire based entirely on changes in the pressure you applied?”

“Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, says that at most software companies the designers decide what they want and the engineers respond with what’s easy to build. “Every single feature becomes this unholy compromise,” says Federighi, who began his career at Apple and spent a decade at Ariba, a maker of financial management software, before returning in 2009. ‘With [3D Touch] it was only at the moment where we finally got a design experience that’s like, ‘Yes! This is what we want!’ that we [asked] how hard it’s going to be to make,'” Tyrangiel reports. “The answer: really hard. But not as hard as it would be for a competitor.”

“Some of this technology was first revealed in the Apple Watch, which has a feature called Force Touch,” Tyrangiel reports. “But 3D Touch is to Force Touch as ocean swimming is to a foot bath. Screen size makes a difference, but the software on the iPhone 6S has a liquid ease… For the years of effort, 3D Touch will be judged a success only when its existence fades completely into a user’s subconscious. It takes about four minutes.”

Much, much more in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: A peek behind the curtain that gives an fuller appreciation of what went into the 3D Touch effort and why. Only Apple.

Again, like Apple Watch, 3D Touch will save users bits of time throughout each day that really add up vs. those with inferior smartphones (yes, that now includes iPhone 6/Plus and older). Those with 3D Touch iPhones will be like those wearing Apple Watches: Faster and more productive than those without.

Apple iPhone 6s/Plus’ revolutionary 3D Touch primes suppliers for success – September 10, 2015
3D Touch iPhone 6s/Plus: Apple’s pressure-based screens deliver a world beyond cold glass – September 10, 2015
Engadget hands-on with iPhone 6s/Plus: Using 3D Touch feels completely natural – September 9, 2015
Apple unveils the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus with 3D Touch, Apple A9, 12MP iSight camera, 4K video and more – September 9, 2015
Apple’s new Force Touch patent application reveals stylus, virtual paint brush, 3D buttons interactions – May 28, 2015


    1. Too bad you can’t use this feature on iPad Pro. Maybe in multi, multi, multi years your grand kids will say, “Remember when grandpa said this day would arrive!” Alll that time spent and no one at Apple figured out how to include 3-D touch on iPad Pro. It’s like an apology or admission of guilt.

      1. Given the implementations of the tech to date I’m going to guess the reason is that the ‘coverage’ area is too large for the 3D Force Touch tech at present or simply will make the iPad Pro too expensive for the consumer if implemented at iPad screen sizes.

      2. Well, you must have seen the way the screen on the new iPhones are made. Maybe they just can’t produce that in the larger screens yet. Maybe soon. I don’t find myself jumping around on iPads like I do my iPhone. The iPad is a less frantic use case for me.

    1. Impressive tech.. Watching the vid it seems to be a faster version of the long touch with haptic feedback UI on Android devices available on a device as old as my Samsung Galaxy S2 running Jellybean. Might be interesting to see if Apple or an iOS developer will try an edge touch rotary menu system like I get with the standard browser on my phone if they haven’t already.

      1. Yes though I’m sure it’s vastly inferior tech & implementation on an Android phone. Google is in a forced position to slam versions of tech on there just to get it out and try and hold on to some advantage. But ultimately people aren’t caring anymore as more and more important Android switchers abandon the platform to iPhone.

      2. Yes Apple is merely copying features from Android phones again. 3D Touch is nothing but an obvious progression from features in Android phones with no real innovation. Anyway, the Huawei Mate S had force touch a couple of weeks before Apple and has already surpassed the iPhone 6s in useful features. It can weigh objects as long as they are between 100g and 400g. If you watch the video in the link below, the force touch magnifier feature on photos, with its random and uncontrollable zooming is infinitely more useful than anything Apple will ever do.

        As you can see there is already prior art and Samsung and their ilk should be free to copy with impunity.

        In case you haven’t noticed already, I am being super fucking sarcastic.

        Apple now has a huge advantage over Android, but like has happened numerous times before (Microsoft, Google, Samsung) patents or the courts won’t protect a single thing Apple just invented

        1. I’m not saying Apple is copying per se.. Just once more improving an interface that already exists with better tech (or tech version of a manual interface if no tech version existed before then). Quite impressive.. Read the article you linked to and it seems still a tech that is looking for a novel use. I wonder how sensitive the ‘fun scale’ function is. I think that zoom feature could be improved by using force touch to determine the initial zoom by the amount of force applied and on release maintain the area zoom then display another interface to allow you to zoom in and out (slider?). Touching any other area can release the zoom and revert the image to original viewing size.

        2. It’s not surprising that this feature exists on Android, and it is also not surprising that it is implemented in a very wonky “beta software” fashion. I have no doubt there will be other Androids sold with his feature, but right in Fragmendroid fashion it will be a handful of different phones implemented differently with different levels of quality, the software will be non-standardized and Apple will have millions more in existence with a standardized implementation, and a large user base of phones to target for developers, which will in the future become all iPhones.

          1. The most likely implementation of tech closer to Apple’s 3D Touch on the Android side at the moment is using the 3rd party tech that melds the touch sensor into Gorilla glass. If it becomes a popular feature, a standard API will be developed for it even w/o Google needing to work on it themselves.

    1. They haven’t got around to 64bit yet. I believe this is needed to be able to make this work. Yes Android can finally do 64bit after they got rid of Java in their new language, so no easy upgrades. OEMs are on a race to the bottom so no one is willing to put in the expensive hardware. It won’t be copied anytime soon. It will be fun watching the fandroids ignore this.

    1. Apple designers say they work very hard to make things work the way they should “Inevitably” work, overcoming huge challenges in the process. Our less than design and engineering literate judicial system looks at Apple designs and says they are obvious and work the way things should work, thus validating the Apple design goal, and at the same time giving away Apple’s hard work to its competitors.

  1. This gives gaming a whole new level. Not exactly the physical buttons the hard core gamers said they needed to dump their GameBoys. However it is close. Also something Android can’t do. With speed of the A9 chip, 3D touch, and Continuity the iPhone is now the best portable gaming system out there.

  2. This is the 2nd time in memory that Apple stock has gone up after a new iPhone announcement – and the fist time was the original. I think that 3D touch and other differentiating features have had positive impact – that and AAPL is way oversold.

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