What it is: Force Touch is Apple’s new way to interact with computers by detecting the length of time and amount of pressure a user exerts on a surface.
The original Apple mouse came with only one button while other mice at the time came with two or three buttons. The idea of one button meant that you could never accidentally press the wrong button. The drawback was that one button eventually proved too limiting. That’s why today’s mice respond to left and right clicks where the left click is the more common command and the right click often brings up a popup menu of relevant commands.
Yet on touch screens and trackpads, Apple has introduced a third way to interact through Force Touch, which can detect the length of time and pressure a finger exerts on a surface. Force Touch arrived first on the iPhone and migrated to the Magic Trackpad. Now Apple’s latest patent reveals that Force Touch will likely come to the Magic Mouse as well.
Right now the Magic Mouse is limited to swipes up and down or left and right across its surface. Force Touch will simply make the Magic Mouse compatible with the Magic Trackpad and its ability to detect pressure. While Force Touch is mostly an accessory like right-clicking was initially with mice, expect Force Touch to become more popular in the future.
Touch screens on smartphones and tablets can only detect taps. Force Touch promises to give all types of devices more ways to control them that will gradually become as intuitive as today’s user’s feel when using a mouse. Remember back in the early days, people actually found a mouse confusing to use when they were so used to using keyboard shortcuts for everything. Once graphical user interfaces become commonplace, using a mouse became the simplest and fastest way to control a computer.
Right now, everyone’s finally comfortable with using touch screens on smartphones and tablets. The next step is to get everyone comfortable with Force Touch interaction as another way to control a computer.
Coupling a screen as both a display device and a controlling device means keeping devices small. Anyone remember the old days when mobile phones had a tiny screen and a big keypad? A touch screen eliminated that cumbersome mess. Now as we bump up against the limitations of touch screens, Force Touch is a way to avoid adding additional hardware controls.
Force Touch is coming to every smartphone, tablet, and computer eventually. The next time you use a touch screen, a trackpad, or even a mouse, you can soon expect Force Touch to be an integral feature to the point where not having it will suddenly feel weird and limiting.