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Apple abandoned 3D Touch! How is the technology known as the Great Interactive Revolution abandoned?

 Why is the 3D Touch, which is called the new generation of multi-touch technology, frequently rejected by iPhone and other products? This article will analyze the reasons for this technology failure from a user experience perspective.



3D Touch

Last month, Apple announced their most successful product and brand -- The latest version iPhone.

Most of the things in Keynote are expected. The most obvious new improvement is that the phone is more modern, larger, and has a diagonal of 6.5 inches, making it the largest mobile phone ever.



iPhone XS

However, the emergence of the iPhone XR has brought many differences to the iPhone's product strategy. From a product decision point of view, this step is very embarrassing, is likely to change the future of the iPhone, and will change the way the iPhone is produced and marketed.

If you haven't read Keynote and haven't heard of it, then I can tell you that XR is a very strange phone. The following points explain why this phone is different from any previous Apple phone:

It is cheaper than XS, but larger than XS (XS diagonal is only 5.8 inches, but XR is 6.1 inches). Its processor A12 Bionic is the same as XS, but has only 3GB of memory (same as X), while XS has 4GB. This means that XR is faster than X and slightly slower than XS. With 128GB of storage, it is the only 128GB available in the entire X family. only a single camera, but still rely on software to produce depth of field effects (similar to Google Pixel). There are six colors. Apple has used this strategy before to achieve diversity. But this time, XR has a high-grade glass shell, and the result is a huge impact on marketing (remember iPhone 5C? It feels cheap, but XR won't). Its screen is what Apple calls a "liquid retina screen." This LCD screen is not as good as the OLED screen used in X and XS, but it is good than the LCD used in the iPhone 8. Although these phones are called "no borders", there are actually tiny curved borders. The screen border of the XR is significantly thicker than the X and XS. Finally, XR's screen does not support 3D Touch. Apple apparently gave up on this feature and removed the feature on XR, which means that product strategy will be adjusted in the next few years.


In my opinion, the last point best reveals Apple's future strategy. It seems that Apple has considered removing 3D Touch from its flagship product in the future.

Below is the question. Why is this feature failing? How does its failure affect the future of the iPhone?

I spent a few days analyzing the user experience and history of 3D Touch, and I want to share how the disappearance of 3D Touch will change the future of Apple's most important products.



3D Touch, a technology waiting for demand


Apple introduced 3D Touch / Force Touch technology to their touchpads in 2014. This technology was born with the birth of Haptic Engine technology, with the main goal of rebuilding the feel of mechanical buttons. From the perspective of Apple's industrial design strategy, this is a huge improvement, which has always favored the reduction of mechanical parts that are prone to break with use.



Force Touch technology in the Macbook touchpad

In 2015, the technology was applied to the iPhone and Apple Watch, with the goal of adding a new dimension of interaction to touch-enabled devices. This "changing the rules" technology is a major selling point for the iPhone 6S.

Below is an iconic video by Jony Ive explaining the application of this technology:



iPhone 6S with 3D Touch (


As a designer, when I first saw the video, I was very excited about its new level of interaction. But after watching this video three years later, the facts are obvious.

This is a technology waiting for demand. The interactions demonstrated in the video actually have no application scenarios.

For example, Jony's so-called "peek and pop" operation is just another way to open resources like photos, URLs, and more. This video doesn't even demonstrate the complete operational flow that 3D Touch brings, but just demonstrates the context menu.


The technology demonstrated in the video is indeed an advancement in touch technology, but in fact, even from a market perspective, this technology has few practical applications. It seems that Apple's strategy for 3D Touch is to provide only technology that allows the developer community to research how it can be used intelligently and creatively to enhance the user experience. Apple is not doing this for the first time – since they have made some breakthroughs in technology.

So why are people failing to find out the 3D Touch application? After an in-depth analysis, I found the following conclusions.



Developer acceptance is extremely low

This may be the cause of 3D Touch failure, or it may be the result. But no matter what, this is a fact.

I tested the app icon shortcut menu for 200 iPhone popular apps. only 40% of apps support the 3D Touch shortcut menu. This adoption rate doesn’t sound terrible until you start digging into the details of their implementations.


For example, Google seems to have added a 3D Touch shortcut menu to every app, but to my surprise, the implementation of each app is completely inconsistent. There is no shortcut menu for the spreadsheet application, and the documentation application is having.

It is very strange to have such inconsistencies between applications within the same suite.



Google Spreadsheets - no 3D Touch menu



Google Docs - has a 3D Touch menu


Popular apps like Lyft and Bumble don't have a shortcut menu, while  taxi app Uber has, and the UberEats app doesn't.



Lyft - no 3D Touch menu


Many application shortcut menus don't even work. While testing different shortcut menus, I found that some applications tried to link to deeper views or functions with shortcut menus, and the results were stuck on a white screen. This problem has happened too many times, and I don't even want to record it. Try it yourself and you will know.


Most apps that offer 3D shortcut menus don't provide much value. For example, the DoorDash app, the only shortcut menu is "Search."



DoorDash's 3D Touch shortcut menu


The shortcut menu is completely useless, just repeating the interaction that can be achieved without 3D Touch.


I will cover this in more detail below.



Repeat and overwrite user paths with each other


Imagine that 3D Touch is really the kind of function that improves the productivity and saves time in the world. In other words, with 3D Touch, your workflow will be faster and you can do things with fewer steps. Right?


However, reality is far from this. Of all the applications I tested, ones that were able to make a more practical and usable operation than the standard touch function using the shortcut menu, none at all.


Instagram is a very good example of failure. We use its camera shortcut menu as an example.


If I want to turn on the camera through 3D Touch, I have to do the following steps:

Find the Instagram icon; press hard; click on the pop-up camera menu item.


If you use traditional touch interaction, you must do the following steps:

Find the Instagram icon; click; swipe from left to right, or click the camera icon in the top left corner



Instagram's 3D Touch shortcut menu


In order to achieve the same interaction path, the number of steps in the two interaction methods is exactly the same, so 3D Touch is no better than traditional protection. For other functions that are slightly more complicated and more suitable for shortcut menus, there are the same problems, such as switching accounts. 


Therefore, there is no reason to rely on an interaction that sometimes provides limited advantages and sometimes does not provide advantages.


Extremely scarce discoverability

This may be the most famous issue with 3D Touch technology. At the UI level, 3D Touch is extremely difficult to find.


If you want to understand the actions that this interaction can do, you have to press every place on the screen and expect to get some feedback. And even if you get feedback sometimes, it's hard to understand which enhancements or which features are brought about by this interaction.


Apple has not even provided any guidance on increasing the discoverability of 3D Touch. Their human interface guidelines ( did not provide this content, but explained that useless "peek and pop" concept.



Unreliable interaction, nightmare of ergonomics

If you want to experience the feeling of arthritis, you can try to use 3D Touch all day on iPhone. This technology is a nightmare of ergonomics. The main problem is that the pressure needed to trigger interaction is too decisive. Under the default sensitivity setting (middle), sometimes a slight touch can trigger, but most of the time not. After multiple attempts to trigger a 3D Touch fail, most users choose to use a lot of effort to reliably trigger the interaction.


A user-made test using food scales and manual comparisons showed that sometimes the user even applied 100 grams of pressure to trigger the 3D Touch.

This isn't the actual amount of stress needed to trigger an interaction, but for a user who has failed once, it's likely that he'll feel compelled to do so. It takes 100 grams of pressure to trigger the fact of 3D Touch, making it impossible to use in everyday applications.



Conceptual conflicts in the interaction spectrum

The iPhone is primarily a touch device. It also has other interaction mechanisms such as microphones, a combination of accelerometers and gyroscopes, and cameras, but these mechanisms are not comparable to touch in conveying the effectiveness and efficiency of user intent.


Touching this input mechanism has absolute dominance, and even the structure of human hands can be changed according to the way the hands are used.


Perhaps for this reason, Apple wants to increase the number of touch interactions. Multi-touch capacitive screens and the actions and interactions they bring are very successful. But 3D Touch is different. Compared to the usual touch, 3D Touch does not provide any practical advantages. Because 3D Touch relies on physical stress, it is in a very awkward position in the interaction spectrum, which destroys the continuity of the touch interaction brought by the capacitive touch screen.


Remember the difficulty of using a resistive screen phone or device? The unnecessary resistance caused by 3D Touch technology is the culprit that makes the pressure screen unsuitable.



Use the resistance screen of the Nokia 5800. The most difficult to use mobile phone.


Although the idea of expanding the variety of interactions is good, the 3D Touch technology inevitably encounters a crisis, especially when it comes to indirect competition with one of the features that make the iPhone a huge success and is loved.



Limited technology, poor input, unique output


As mentioned earlier, 3D Touch is an unreliable technology.

The amount of stress required to trigger 3D Touch is very difficult to judge, making it difficult for 3D Touch to achieve consistent application. But the input is not the worst part. 3D Touch applications are limited to the UI layer and embezzle the benefits of other technologies such as touch engines that can be used for normal touch interaction.


Because 3D Touch interactions are often used in conjunction with touch feedback provided by touch engines, the already excellent technology of touch engines has to retreat into "the servant of 3D Touch."


Although this is not necessarily the reason for the failure of 3D Touch, it illustrates the limitations of the miniature world created by 3D Touch. This feature does not bring any value to the iPhone's ultimate user experience, but its status is like a limiting factor, not a technology that no one uses.



The future of 3D Touch


With the iPhone XR announcing the removal of 3D Touch, Apple’s intentions for the technology are already evident. However, removing this feature from the product is much more difficult than not adding it at first.


Apple's strategy has always been to test consumer acceptance of prices on high-end models. This strategy seems to work very well. But the condition is that Apple must always add new features, making the price increase worthwhile.


The main difficulty in removing 3D Touch is to remove a technology that affects the price of high-end devices.

Apple is likely to offer another feature instead of deleting one feature. Even if it can't be implemented in hardware, Apple will replace it with software-implemented features such as joint detection (


Another small possibility is that Apple will use other technologies to implement a new generation of 3D Touch. Other technologies may be like the technology described in this patent ( -under-screen-touch-id), or a gravity-sensing screen that allows the iPad to be used as a small food scale.

Of course, everything is possible, and XR may indicate that Apple's new product strategy on high-end models will also be affected by the way technology is integrated and deployed in XR models.


It's also possible that the replacement for 3D Touch technology is the support of the extra Apple Pencil – the last legacy of Steve Jobs (which has been expected for the past two years), so Apple Pencil Mini and special clips with clips may be produced. iPhone case.


In any case, 3D Touch can't see the future, and Apple is burying its wreckage.

Original: https: // Author: Juan J. Ramirez, Amazon Web Service User Experience Designer


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