I Love Apple's 3D Touch, Why Don’t You?

By Patrick Lucas Austin on at

One of the iPhone’s most interesting features might get the axe, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo suggests Apple’s rumoured 6.1-inch iPhone is rumoured to eschew the iPhone’s pressure-sensitive 3D Touch feature as a cost-cutting measure as it incorporates a different, more expensive touch sensor into the LCD screen. Look, I get it: 3D Touch isn’t popular, even among the more technical staffers at Gizmodo. But to remove what amounts to a much-needed extra layer of interaction on the 2D touchscreen is ridiculous, and unhelpful for both developers and consumers. In addition, I actually use 3D Touch! Why don’t you?

Save for the iPhone SE, 3D Touch has been a feature included in every iPhone since the 6S. That means many of the people who have purchased an iPhone over the last few years has the feature. Whether they know it or not is a different story. I mentioned 3D Touch recently to my partner, who responded with surprise. “This is pretty cool,” she said. You know why? Because it is pretty cool. And deserves to stay.

3D Touch is so neatly integrated into the iPhone that it’s one of my favourite features about the device. As a longtime iPhone 6 user who jumped straight to the iPhone X, I’ve been envious and a bit confused as to why people didn’t bother adopting the feature into their daily interactions with their device. I’ve also been wondering why Apple would let it languish.

Kuo’s analysis also suggested 3D Touch might be removed from future iPhones in 2019, which is not that far fetched, considering how Apple’s developer page on 3D Touch still features the iPhone 6S (though the User Interface guidelines on 3D Touch feature the iPhone X).

Can you imagine getting on a computer without the ability to right-click? Try this experiment: Fire up your favourite timer and try to change your background on Windows 10 without using the right-click on your mouse. Now, do it again, but use your right-click to get it done (as in, right-click on your desktop and select Personalise).

It’s the same on the iPhone. I use it to quickly turn on my flashlight in the middle of the night and adjust its brightness so I don’t blind my sleeping partner with the white light of death when all I needed was a dimly lit guide to the can.

Need to hit up your Twitter buddy? Squish the bird, hit New Message, and take your pick of contacts without seeing a single tweet You can easily send a new text or view your most commonly contacted friends in the Messages app. Bring up Control Centre, press down on the brightness slider, and adjust your device’s Night Shift functionality or True Tone display. Switch between different Slack groups without loading a single channel. Quickly transfer your Venmo balance to your traditional bank account. Add tasks to your TickTick task manager.

In my current obsession, Clash Royale, 3D Touch lets me double-check the stats of the cards in my hand. You can even use it to prioritise app downloads and updates if you need to get your task manager up and running faster than your podcast app.

I’m not here to list every single instance in which I use 3D Touch, suffice to say I find it very convenient. It’s the right-click of iOS, and right-click functionality is definitely useful when you need it. It’s also useful when you want to avoid the terrible user interface that plagues iOS apps, the one that forces me to stretch my thumb across the entire screen to open a new tab or send a new message.

The blame for 3D Touch’s lack of adoption doesn’t exactly fall on any one group’s shoulders. I’m not blaming Apple for not pushing it hard enough, consumers for not bothering to learn a new interaction method, or developers from eschewing the functionality from their apps. Basically, it’s everyone’s fault.

3D Touch isn’t perfect, but that’s not because it doesn’t work. From the developer side, there are tonnes of apps that seemingly ignore it entirely, despite it being a standard on every iPhone, one more consistent than even screen sizes. Chances are pressing on an app will only bring up a sharing option, and not much else. If that’s the case, of course people won’t give it a shot. Finding an app that supports it is a chore.

In a chat with Gizmodo staff, myself and one other colleague were the only two 3D Touch supporters. The rest, detractors responding with a series of Slack messages boiling down to the phrase “I never use it,” hadn’t truly attempted to use it in earnest, which I believe is the primary issue. No one’s even trying.

It’s safe to say 3D Touch isn’t the most popular feature on the iPhone, but its removal would be absolutely demoralising to me. I can’t be the only one who feels this way, right? If you’re a fan of the most underrated idea around, please let me know below.


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