Force Touch on the iPhone

I have not said much about a force touch for iPhone. However, recent news leaks make it seem inevitable. It looks very much like the next iPhone will have a force touch screen. I enjoyed this 9 to 5 Mac coverage about force touch on the iPhone a few days ago. All of this got me thinking about exactly how big a deal force touch will be on the iPhone.

At the beginning, at least, I expect it won’t be much of a deal at all. The feature will only be available on the newest iPhones so developers will know a majority of their users won’t even have force touch. Moreover, by its very nature, force touch feels like a feature for power users are much more than for everyday users. I even see this with my wife and her Apple Watch. Rarely does she think of using a force touch the screen when she’s trying to figure out how to make a feature work.

I think it will be the same on the iPhone, only more so. People are used to seeing icons that are tied to functions in their applications. Force touch features are hidden behind a hard press on the screen and a lot of people will never think about force touching when looking for a missing feature. I think application developers that start burying key features behind force touch will do so at their own peril.

Instead, I think for the first few years force touch is going to be very much a power user feature. It will let you do things faster but I think rarely will it allow you to do exclusive things that can’t be accomplished some other way. The example in the 9 to 5 Mac article about how force touching an application icon brings it to a particular screen is a perfect example of this. Alternatively, you could manually open the application and manually navigate to the screen but being able to do both of those steps with one force touch will be much nicer. It will be an improvement on the experience for those people who want to invest the time to figure it out and set their applications accordingly. That’s not everyone by a long stretch.

Maybe in a few years when this interface function is available on all iPhones it will become a bigger deal but my expectation is that initially us nerds will love force touch and a lot of other people won’t even realize it exists.