One of the cornerstone features of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, to be announced next Wednesday, is a screen based on the Force Touch technology from the latest MacBook trackpads and the Apple Watch. However, as we noted in previous articles such as our event expectations roundup from yesterday, the Force Touch feature in the new iPhones will actually be a next-generation version of the technology. According to sources familiar with the new iPhones, the new pressure-sensitive screen will likely be called the “3D Touch Display”…

iPad Air 2

While the MacBook trackpads and Apple Watch act on two levels of pressure, the differentiation between a tap and a press, the new iPhones will actually differentiate and unique act upon three levels of pressure: a tap, a press, and a deeper press, according to sources. The 3D Touch name is therefore derived from the new Force Touch sensor’s ability to sense three dimensions of pressure, rather than just two. This opens up the door to new user-interface tricks, such as shortcut gestures across the iPhone 6s version of iOS 9.

In an article profiling the new Force Touch feature earlier this year, we shared a few additional examples of how the new iPhone will take advantage of the new screen technology:

  • New to the Force Touch experience, a user can look up a point of interest in the Maps application, and then Force Touch on the destination to immediately begin turn-by-turn directions. Currently, if a user wants to start navigating to a destination, she must search for the point of interest, click the navigation logo on the map view, then click another button to actually start navigating. In this case, the Force Touch gesture will skip two steps.
  • In the Music application, a user can Force Touch on a listed track to be presented with some of the most commonly used actions. For instance, if a user deep presses on the listing for a song, a menu will appear to quickly add the song to a playlist or save it for offline listening. This Force Touch gesture would act as a substitute for clicking the actions button on the right side of each track listing in the Music app.
  • Another feature in testing, according to one source, are shortcuts that appear after Force Touching an app icon on the Home screen. For example, if a user deep presses on the Phone app icon, he could choose to shortcut directly to the Voicemail tab. This could also apply to deep pressing the News app icon and being taken directly to either the Favorites or For You tabs.
  • Some of the Force Touch gestures will come from Apple’s latest MacBooks. For instance, a user can Force Touch a link in Safari to see a preview of that webpage. The gesture also works for deep pressing on an address or contact name to see a preview of a map view or contact card, respectively. Similarly, a user can Force Touch a word to look up its definition.

With three dimensions, developers will likely be able to create new types of games that take advantage of the new technology. The updated Force Touch screen is also set to make its way to the iPad Pro, where it will be leveraged by a non-traditional-looking stylus accessory. The iPad Pro will be announced on Wednesday as well, according to sources.

The new 3D Touch screen is likely to work in tandem with a new Taptic Engine to provide physical feedback to the user. Check out our full roundup of what else to expect from the new iPhones, including support for a new 12 megapixel camera with 4K video recording capabilities, an upgraded FaceTime camera, faster chips, animated wallpapers, and a new Rose Gold color option.

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