Love it or hate it, 3D Touch just bit the dust. For years now, 3D Touch has offered a unique experience for accessing contextual menus and other hidden content. There’s even at least one video game that took advantage of its unique capabilities. But with the new iPhone 11 lineup and the full adoption of Haptic Touch, 3D Touch is now only available on older devices. But is that a bad thing? Let’s dive in.
What Is 3D Touch?
Apple introduced 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s after introducing Force Touch on the first Apple Watch. Force Touch offered two levels of touch: tap and press. 3D Touch offers a more dynamic feel using three layers of touch: tap, light press, hard press.
The image below shows an example of of “Peek and Pop” in Mail. While a regular tap would open the email, a light press could “peek” at the message, then the user could press harder to “pop” into the message to view it. Alternatively, users can stop pressing while peeking to return to the list of messages.
While tapping is used for interacting with and navigating iPhone as normal, presses allowed users to do more. Users could press for contextual menus, soft press to “peek” at content, and hard press to “pop” into the content they were peeking at. Games such as GRID™ Autosport took a more dynamic approach, letting gamers use pressure sensitivity to control the throttle of the in-game cars.
Can I Still Use 3D Touch If My iPhone Has It?
Yes… and, no. 3D Touch still works in iOS 13, but as of the latest public beta, the functionality is limited. The peek and pop operation is gone, but users can still use the feature to quickly access contextual content faster than Haptic Touch.
Besides peek and pop, users could also use 3D Touch on the keyboard to move the cursor when writing. The good news is, as of now that feature is still available. This feature is still available on all iPhones by long-pressing the space bar.
Why Is Apple Phasing out 3D Touch?
While only Apple knows the real answer to this question, one can hazard a guess. Maybe it’s because not many people used it, maybe it’s because some users didn’t know about it, or maybe it’s another reason entirely. All we know for certain, is iOS 13 and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, are very quickly ushering it out the door.
Is Haptic Touch Better?
With Haptic Touch, users can long press an app (or other items) to view a contextual menu or peek at some content. It isn’t possible to pop into content as before. When long pressing an app, users can then drag an app to rearrange apps, or select the “Rearrange Apps” option from the contextual menu.
But is it any better? Short answer – not really. Haptic Touch seems to be a marketing term for basic long-press touches. Previous iPhones can utilize long-presses as well, so it seems they have both Haptic and 3D Touch.
Long-pressing now allows users to access the same contextual menus, but pressure-sensitivity is completely gone. Additionally, options such as rearranging apps have changed as a result.
What If I Liked 3D Touch?
A quick look online seems to reveal many people are fine with the change or never cared for it in general. Whether you think it’s a gimmick or a useful feature is probably a matter of opinion. Personally, I loved 3D Touch and think it was under-utilized by developers and even Apple. With it gone—and limited in iOS 13—you really have two options (for now).
The first option is to continue using an older iPhone until 3D Touch is no longer supported by iOS. Of course, it won’t be the same 3D Touch you’ve been used to; and, you’ll be missing out on newer iPhones models.
The second, and more sensible option, is just to accept it. It’s not something you can change and it’s unlikely that Apple will bring it back. Besides, if they bring anything back, my guess is it will be Touch ID, and even that seems unlikely for now.
The thing is, when Apple makes up their mind, they tend to make it up for good. Haptic Touch might just be marketing lingo, but it appears to be here to stay.
What about you? Did you use 3D Touch? Did you like it? Did you even know it existed? Let us know how you feel about the change in the comments and on social media. Your opinion counts, and we like to hear it.