The iPhone’s home screen has always been boring: a menu of static icons that did nothing but tell you how many notifications you have or launch an app.
It’s become a joke in the tech world. The iPhone gets better every year, but even the Weather icon can’t show you the current temperature unless you open the app.
Former Bloomberg editor Josh Topolsky summed it up pretty well in a tweet on Wednesday:
All this and they still can’t get the Weather icon to show the temperature
— Joshua Topolsky (@joshuatopolsky) September 9, 2015
But Apple has an answer with a new feature coming to the iPhone 6s called 3D Touch. 3D Touch is a new technology built into the iPhone’s screen that can detect how hard you press down on the glass. We’re already used to tapping, swiping, and pinching on the iPhone for certain actions, but 3D Touch opens up a whole new layer of controls.
Right now, only Apple apps and a few select apps that got early access to the iPhone 6s have 3D Touch features, but what I’ve seen so far is promising.
It’s the most useful on the home screen. Instead of opening an app, you do a hard press on app icon to bring up relevant information. For example, pressing down on the Messages app pulls up a list of the people you frequently text and an option to jump into a blank message.
Inside apps, you can use 3D Touch to preview a website from a link or an email. The website preview was my favourite. It’s much better than opening a new web page in a separate app.
It works well in Mail too. Here’s what it looks like when you preview an email:
Keep in mind that 3D Touch only works on the iPhone 6S, so it’s unlikely most developers will make much use of it in the near term. It will be years before the majority of iPhone users have a 3D Touch-enabled device, so that gives developers little incentive to use the extra time to come up with clever ways to utilise the new features.
But in a few years, it will feel just as standard and natural as swiping or tapping on your phone’s screen. 3D Touch makes the home screen more dynamic and interesting, while enabling developers to come up with clever controls inside their apps, especially for things like games that need more controls than simple taps.
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