This week the Apple rumor mill was churning in overdrive. TechCrunch, 9to5Mac and a host of other mobile news sources reported that the iPhone 6 successor will include Force Touch technology. The incorporation of Force Touch has implications for both developers and UI designers.
Those among us lucky enough to have access to an Apple Watch or new MacBook will have already encountered the tech capability in action. For the Force Touch neophytes among us, the technology enables an app to respond differently to varying degrees of applied pressure. Thus pushing on the track pad of the new MacBook lightly might result in one type of action while a more pressure would result in secondary or tertiary actions.
Benefits of Force Touch technology
According to 9to5Mac, Force Touch will enable developers to code additional capabilities for core users and could replace “press and hold” features. In a world where every second counts to keep digital natives and mobile savvy consumers engaged, Force Touch enables the user to experience greater connectivity with her device, responding to minimally variable actions.
Allegedly, Force Touch will not be required to use essential functions of the device. It will allow users to drop pins in Apple maps and add new events in a calendar among other capabilities.
Designer and developer ramifications
Chris Black, senior software engineer for MentorMate, believes the greatest impact of Force Touch technology will be reflected in app UI. Though there will likely be a learning curve to develop using the capability, it will ultimately simplify the user experience.
“The benefit will be fewer UI elements needed on the screen to accomplish the same goals. It will be important to follow Apple’s guidelines. Users will expect consistent behavior and should not be surprised at what happens when they Force Touch. Developers and designers will also need to consider devices that don’t have Force Touch which will increase development time.”
For Creative Director Annika Seaberg, Force Touch adds another dimension of functionality previously unavailable —the ability to move between two places from a single touch point.
“So far it works great on the watch. The downside will be the learning curve when Force Touch is available on a larger screen. There are still a lot of questions that we can’t really account for until we have a working device in hand. The haptic experience will be really important to sense in testing to use it correctly in an app.”
For Seaberg, the questions become:
1. Do we need to include visual indicators if we have space on more complex UI?
2. If the rumors are true and Force Touch becomes available on the iPhone, is it positioned in the center of the screen or can it read specific hit points?
Get a head start before the inclusion of Force Touch is officially announced for the next iPhone release.