What it is: Force Touch is Apple’s haptic feedback mechanism to enhance its user interface experience.
With the limited screen space of the Apple Watch, Apple had no choice but to abandon the traditional user interface consisting of pull down menus, windows, and buttons. That’s why they crated Force Touch, which responds to pressure from fingertips. Now Apple had adopted Force Touch (called 3D Touch) for the latest iPhone 6s models and has already put Force Touch in the trackpads of the latest Macintosh laptops.
That means eventually Force Touch will work its way to the Magic Trackpad as well as the iPad. It’s not a matter of it but when.
As users, Force Touch/3D Touch is simply a shortcut. Rather than wade through multiple options, Force Touch/3D Touch gives you a shortcut menu when it detects enough pressure. To do this right, you need both software and hardware optimized for this task. That means you can expect more Apple products (including the remote on the Apple TV) to rely on Force Touch. That also means Android manufacturers will need a way to mimic Force Touch on their own phones.
As Apple plows ahead with Force Touch/3D Touch on all of their products, they’ll simply refine both the software and hardware to make detecting pressure more efficient. In the meantime, Android manufacturers have to scramble to keep up. Since Android manufacturers rely on the laundry list of technical specifications to prove superiority, they’re already falling behind with Force Touch and barely introducing 64-bit processing but without much to show for it beyond the boast of having 64-bit processing.
Force Touch/3D Touch is simply Apple’s way of differentiating themselves from their rivals through an actually useful technical feature. As more people get used to interacting with user interfaces through touching and pressing, the old touch gesture-only interface of previous iPhone and Android smartphones will seem antiquated. That means more people will simply expect Force Touch/3D Touch as a common feature. The lack of this feature will be a glaring omission that no rival will be able to mask.
Force Touch is Apple’s way of forcing rivals to innovate and compete, which involves more than just copying. Because innovation and vision is something rivals often lack, Force Touch is a game changer. It’s the new way to interact with devices, especially wearable devices. Just look at how Samsung tried to market Galaxy Gear smartwatches before Apple introduced the Apple Watch.
Samsung Galaxy Gear watches relied on the old touch gesture interface and completely missed the haptic feedback paradigm. Now they’re hopelessly obsolete in comparison to the Apple Watch. Even the Microsoft Band offers haptic feedback although it doesn’t appear as refined as Force Touch on the Apple Watch and other Apple products.
Haptic feedback is the future of user interfaces. Think of trying to compete against the original Macintosh with the command-line interface of MS-DOS. It won’t work. That’s what rivals face trying to compete against the Force Touch paradigm of Apple products. They can’t win, and this will only get more apparent as time goes on.