“Barclays says it’s ‘widely understood’ that 3D Touch will be removed from iPhones with OLED displays in 2019—aka the third-generation iPhone X and second-generation ‘iPhone X Plus.’ However, they caution that the plans aren’t finalized yet, so they could change.”
Adding fuel to the fire, David Barnard points out that iOS 12 adds an alternative method of entering “text cursor” mode—one that doesn’t depend on force-pressing:
In iOS 12 you can move the cursor with a tap and hold on the space bar. It’s possible they made that change knowing 3D Touch was going away.
— David Barnard (@drbarnard) August 27, 2018
It might seem surprising that Apple would ditch 3D Touch, just a few years after celebrating the “revolutionary” technology. To be honest, I’d be surprised myself. But I wouldn’t be particularly heartbroken. Here are some reasons why Apple should consider axing the pressure-sensitive tech:
- I would guess that novice iPhone users (i.e. the bulk of Apple’s customers) never really get the hang of 3D Touch—or even understand that it’s different than the long press gesture. What percentage of 3D Touch activations happen by accident? 10%? 25%? More?
- I’m not even sure that 3D Touch made much of an impression with power users. For me, it’s always been a feature in search of a use case. I never use the “pop” and “peek” gestures, which saved little time over simply tapping a link. I don’t use app shortcuts on the Home screen, either; I could never get over the fiddliness of invoking 3D Touch without doing a long press.
- And “fiddly” really does sum up the 3D Touch experience. “Press down,” the OS demands, then barks, “No! Not too hard!” Or, “No! You took too long!” Or consider “peeking,” which requires the user to maintain “half-pressure” while she checks out a piece of content, which pulses in and out as her force touch wavers. There’s an unpleasant “analog” quality to the gesture; you’re always on the edge of either releasing the content, or accidentally popping into it.
- Finally, there’s the matter of consistency across the iOS line. Apparently, engineering challenges have prevented Apple from bringing 3D Touch to the iPad. That leaves the user experience bifurcated; you can 3D Touch on the phone and watch—but not the tablet. That’s irritating; the iPhone encourages one set of gestures, while the iPad demands another approach. Given that iOS 12 aims to unify the UX, it makes sense that Apple would drop 3D Touch now.
Will Apple actually kill off 3D Touch? Who knows? Even Barclays is hedging its bets; they’re careful to include a disclaimer, reminding us that Apple’s plans could change.
But if 3D Touch really does get force-pressed out of existence, I won’t mind. ■