The next iPhone will be unveiled in roughly a month. But based on everything we know, it looks like there will be only one major distinguishing feature between this new iPhone and last year’s iPhone 6.
According to several media reports, including one from The Wall Street Journal, this year’s iPhone will reportedly feature Force Touch, the pressure-sensitive technology that was first introduced in the Apple Watch but also appears in the trackpad of the most recent MacBook.
Apple’s Force Touch technology uses “force sensors” to detect how much pressure you’re applying, and an internal component called the Taptic Engine provides physical feedback — a click, or a tap — when you press down on the surface.
On the new MacBook, Force Touch lets you access new functions: For example, you can “force click” a word on the Macbook to find its definition, or force click a file in Finder to see a preview. On the Apple Watch, using Force Touch in certain apps lets you see otherwise hidden menu options and controls, like selecting a different watch face, searching for an address in the Maps app, or pausing or ending a workout.
Apple calls Force Touch “the most significant new sensing capability since Multi-Touch.” (Multi-Touch was introduced in the first iPhone and lets you use two fingers to “pinch” to zoom images along with perform other gestures.) Since these Force Touch devices can sense the difference between taps and deep presses, games and applications can take advantage of these capabilities to create novel and unique user experiences.
Besides Force Touch, expect very few major improvements to the next iPhone. The alleged iPhone 6S will almost certainly get a better camera, but everything else from the form factor to the protruding rear camera lens to those unsightly antenna breaks along the back side of the phone are expected to remain the same. The new iPhone will ship running iOS 9, the latest iPhone software introduced in June, out of the box.
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