iOS 9’s biggest secret was not revealed when the operating system was officially announced earlier this month. This is because it will be the key feature in the upcoming iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, but there’s not long to wait now…
Bloomberg reports that both new iPhones have now hit production lines and they do indeed contain ‘Force Touch’.
“Apple is bringing Force Touch, first unveiled for the Apple Watch and the newest MacBook model, to the iPhone at least two years after it started working with suppliers to perfect the pressure-sensitive displays,” Bloomberg reporter Tim Culpan confirmed.
Despite all the rumours, talk of a 4-inch premium iPhone 6S (proportional representation) has gone quiet suggesting it is very unlikely
For those not familiar with Force Touch, it detects how hard a user presses down on the screen giving an additional type of input. As Bloomberg mentions, it is already used in the Apple Watch and new MacBook Pros and, while we can only speculate how Apple will implement it in iOS, the potential here is huge.
Here are some theoretical examples:
Of course given Apple has already introduced Force Touch in other products it makes perfect sense for the company to bring it to its most important product – and expect future iPads to sport it as well, especially the big new one. That said, Force Touch also comes with a significant amount of risk.
Force Touch on the Apple Watch – Image credit Apple
The biggest factor is over complication. Right now almost everyone understands how to get around iOS but adding Force Touch will create doubt and potentially some frustration:
Make a user uncomfortable and they stop using the feature.
In fact an element of this can already been seen in the Apple Watch with a general consensus that it is one of Apple’s less intuitive products (though admittedly it is also a first generation device). Furthermore Force Touch in OS X is currently still a gimmick with novelty functionality that is only available in limited situations.
Consequently for Apple, Force Touch integration in the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus is crucial. It will have to be intuitive, genuinely useful and pervasive enough not just to convince users to upgrade but developers to implement support for it – and that is a chicken and the egg situation.
On the plus side the timing makes perfect sense…
The Biggest Step In A Smaller Step
Ultimately I think it is no coincidence that Force Touch will make its debut in ‘S generation’ iPhones.
The S range has always been about perfecting last year’s model and the relative lack of risk in hardware design means Apple can afford to spend more time working on one or two key new features (expect a notable camera improvement as well). But it would be too much to debut Force Touch in an all new iPhone 7 design in 2016 or with the 2014 form factor jumps in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
So when will we be able to get our hands on the Force Touch touting iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus? According to Bloomberg “volume manufacturing is scheduled to ramp up as soon as next month”.
This ties in perfectly with previous production schedules and suggests Apple will again hold to its traditional early/mid September time frame. It also fits with the major carrier release date leak for when the phones will actually go on sale.
In the meantime brace yoursef, iPhone crazy season is fast approaching again…