Haptic feedback features found in a recent iMovie update illustrate the power of Apple’s new Force Touch trackpad to provide feedback, not just as an input device, says one of the pioneers of the technology.

Freelance film editor Alex Gollner first noticed Apple was using the trackpad to provide tactile feedback in a recent update to iMovie.

When dragging a video clip to its maximum length, you’ll get feedback letting you know you’ve hit the end of the clip. Add a title and you’ll get feedback as the title snaps into position at the beginning or end of a clip. Subtle feedback is also provided with the alignment guides that appear in the Viewer when cropping clips.

Apple showed-off the Force Touch feature when announcing the new 12-inch MacBook, also adding it to the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The WSJ recently claimed that Apple also plans to introduce the feature to the touchscreen on the next generation of the iPhone … 

Apple’s presentation focused on use of the feature as an input mechanism, using it to control how OS X or an app responds to different levels of pressure. But haptics pioneer Vincent Hayward says the trackpad has equal potential as a feedback device, allowing you to feel what an app is doing, reports Wired.

Hayward can imagine it accentuating interaction with all sorts of on-screen elements, like buttons, menus and icons. “It could make interaction more realistic, or useful, or entertaining, or pleasant,” he says. […] A project from a group of Disney researchers involved a touchscreen environment in which icons felt “heavier” based on their file size. [Imagine] a version of Angry Birds where you could sense the tension in the slingshot as you drew it further back.

Hayward says Apple’s reported plan to add Force Touch to the iPhone is a realistic one, requiring only sufficiently powerful and battery-efficient motors.

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