Apple announced the new iPhone 6S line at their September event. One of the tent poles of their new iPhones is 3D Touch, a hardware feature that provides “depth” to touch interactions. An argument can be made that this feature can be replicated by a Long Press (a gesture that is already available).
Interestingly enough, almost all the interactions demoed during the event could be built today, using a UILongPressGestureRecognizer. Even the taptic feedback could be faked with a vibration.
Here are some of the differences between the two gestures that I can think of.
Resting a finger on the screen could mis-fire a Long Press, but not a 3D Touch
3D Touch can provide instant gratification. Long Press gestures are defined by a minimum touch delay, therefore they would be laggy in comparison
It would be very difficult to implement an app with multiple Long Press gestures, but it would be straight forward to mix a Long Press gesture and 3D Touch
Long Press does not provide depth. Games can benefit from using this feature
Neither 3D Touch, nor Long Press gestures are discoverable. That is potentially why we have not seen many Long Press implementations this far. Looking at the Apple Music app, the Long Press gesture (on a For You playlist for example) opens the overflow action menu. It will be interesting to see if 3D Touch replaces that, or augments it in some way. Even the Instagram implementation doesn’t really “need” 3D Touch to offer a preview of the selected photo. A one second tap could provide the same functionality, albeit with a bit of a delay.
I’m thinking of an analogy with the home button. Pushing it down twice takes the user to multi-tasking. Tapping it twice invokes the “reachability” which makes the screen slide down. I often forget that the latter feature even exists… Long pressing an app’s icon will compete with the gesture that invokes “wiggle” mode. It will be interesting to see if users will be confused by the two gestures.
I have a feeling that many developers will start implementing Long Press gesture fallbacks for 3D Touch and that more and more apps will start providing Peek + Pop behaviours in their applications. This alone can be a huge win for many users out there, as long as the developers don’t start hiding essential functionality behind a gesture that I believe is not very discoverable. (Did you know that a Long Press on the back button of OmniFocus takes you to the app’s home screen?)
I have not used an iPhone with 3D Touch yet (pre-ordered mine yesterday) so many of the things above are just guesses.
The one fear I have is that the 3D Touch edge-screen-swipe multi tasking gesture will interfere with the back navigation gesture. I sure hope I’m wrong…
I bought a new iPhone today. My current one is damaged, but to be honest with you, I probably would have upgraded anyway. Here’s how I decided which iPhone to buy.
The choice was between the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S Plus. I have never owned a phone as large as the iPhone 6S Plus and I sometimes find even the screen size of the iPhone 6 to be too large for me.
I considered the 6S Plus because of these factors:
Optical Image Stabilisation for both Photos and Videos
Longer battery life
With a screen that large, it could replace my Kindle
In the end I bought an iPhone 6S because of these reasons:
Easier to handle single-handedly
More comfortable in my front pocket
The two things above I will be doing a lot of and I just don’t want to have to pay attention to how I handle the phone. The size of iPhone 6S Plus would make me be too aware of how I handle the device.
I have no doubt that the iPhone 6S Plus is a superior phone. Sometimes though, the more pragmatic choice prevails, even when it’s not a matter of cost. There are people who have to have the best, and to them I say: enjoy your iPhone 6S Plus.