Inside Apple's New Force Touch Trackpad

By Darren Orf on at

Although this past Monday's Apple event was mostly dedicated to the Apple Watch, the most exciting (and perplexing) new piece of hardware was the updated MacBook. But one of its new features, the Taptic Engine-enabled "Force Touch" trackpad, also found its way into a refresh of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which iFixit tore apart immediately.

Essentially, Apple is doing away with the familiar clickiness of your current MacBook trackpad and instead going with haptic feedback, which are those tiny buzzes of button-press confirmation many Android phones have had for years. Only this time, it's in your laptop.

The new trackpad also gives the same kind of feedback across the entire surface and can recognise normal presses and deep press, which Apple calls a "Force click". Here's some of the finer details of Apple's latest notebook feature:

Made of wire coils surrounding a ferromagnetic core, the electromagnet in the Force Touch Trackpad is used to create the vibrational feedback you feel. We're guessing that the four separate coils here are used to vary the feedback given to the user...The magnets rapidly push and pull against a metal rail mounted beneath the trackpad, to create a tiny "buzz" of feedback with each click (and a second buzz for a "force click").

However, if you are eyeing that new MacBook, the tech could work a little differently. After all, the new MacBook is built from the ground up whereas this implementation is more a retrofit operation. It also seems Apple's haptic ambitions will not stay exclusive to MacBooks. Rumours this week about the upcoming next iPhone (6S? 7?) (yes, we're already hearing rumours) say that Force Touch will also be built into the device and be able to sense both between light and heavy presses. It would seem that this Force Touch tech is becoming a big part of Apple's future.

Oh and as far as repairability goes, the new MacBook Pro scores a terrible 1 out of 10. [iFixit]