Somewhere along the way, the public started demanding that new smartphones come with killer new features. After a certain point, incremental upgrades, no matter how impressive they might be, simply weren’t enough to get anyone excited.
We see this dynamic play out in reviews all the time: a device will be highly praised but will lose a few points for not having a killer new feature. Now given that the current smartphone market has for quite some time been saturated with an endless array of new and gimmicky devices, it’s easy to see why handset manufacturers have been trying to come up with killer new features for years on end.
Only thing is, killer features, as a general rule, are few and far in between. The new 3D Touch feature on the iPhone 6s, however, is an exciting exception to this rule. In fact, 3D Touch is arguably the first ‘killer feature’ to grace the iPhone in years.
A close look at Apple’s four most recent iPhone releases bears this out. While Apple finally hopped on board the bigger display train with its iPhone 6 models, one hesitates to call a bigger form factor a ‘killer feature’, especially when Android devices had been sporting gargantuan screens for years prior.
With the iPhone 5s, Apple introduced Touch ID and a 64-bit A7 processor. While undeniably important advancements, again, one wouldn’t exactly call anything on the iPhone 5s a ‘killer feature’ capable of drumming up excitement amongst the masses.
The iPhone 5 finally introduced LTE support which, while a long time coming, was yet another instance of Apple playing catch-up to Android. And finally, Apple with the iPhone 4s introduced Siri, a feature that no one at the time, even for a hot second, thought about categorizing as a killer new feature.
3D Touch, though, is another ballgame entirely. Not only does 3D Touch promise to fundamentally change the way we use our smartphones, it’s arguably the most interesting advancement in smartphone interaction design since multitouch.
Thus far, almost all of the iPhone 6s reviews we’ve seen have heaped praise on Apple’s new 3D Touch feature. In fact, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that 3D Touch will not only persuade iPhone 6 owners to upgrade, but may also convince some Android owners to contemplate making the switch over to iOS.
Consider these usage scenarios: You press down on the Apple Maps app and are instantly presented with options like “Directions Home” and “Mark My Location.” Instant time savers.
In another example, pressing down on the Camera app presents users with the option to take a selfie or begin filming in a pre-selected camera mode. Again, a handy time saver.
Earlier today, AppleInsider published a 3D Touch walk-through video which truly shows off why the feature is such a game changer.
One sentiment that was shared by most reviewers is that 3D Touch’s true potential will be unleashed once developers get their hands on it. Gaming in particular will likely benefit immensely by this new mode of user interaction.
Below are a few excerpts about 3D Touch from the myriad of iPhone 6s reviews which popped up earlier this week.
Christina Warren writing for Mashable:
3D Touch is something that once you use, you won’t be able to stop. Going back to my iPhone 6 after spending time with 3D Touch on the iPhone 6S, I feel lost.
In my initial hands-on with the iPhone 6S, I praised 3D Touch as being almost worth the price of admission. This remains true. In fact, if 3D Touch was the only change between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6S, I would still be tempted to upgrade.
John Paczkowski writing for Buzzfeed:
It is surprisingly useful — particularly for power users who do a lot of work from their iPhones. I’m already using it constantly, and I am impressed with how good it is at interpreting the force of my touch. It’s very much an Apple innovation — a seemingly subtle change so thoughtfully executed that it proves transformative.
Does that also sound like Jobsian hyperbole? Probably. But I think 3D Touch is likely the biggest innovation to the iPhone UI since the iPhone UI.
Walt Mossberg writing for The Verge:
This is one of those potentially huge user behaviors — like swiping, or pinching and zooming — that seem odd or minor at first, but which Apple historically is able to make deeply important and useful. And it’s not just a software tweak. It involved serious re-engineering of the display. It’s the kind of thing that’s Apple’s specialty: the company manages to do new things better, apply them broadly, and make them seem natural, because it has control over both the software and hardware platforms on which its products rest. No other big player does.
Nilay Patel writing for The Verge:
Even still, 3D Touch already feels much more natural than Force Touch on the Apple Watch, and companies like Pinterest and Instagram and Dropbox are already showing off interesting demos. (I’m sure 3D Touch-enabled apps will be in the App Store the second the phone actually goes on sale.) And the potential for pressure-sensitive gaming is off the charts; 3D Touch might make gaming on a iPhone something much more interesting than furiously swiping on the screen.5 There are a lot of things that have to fall into place, but 3D Touch overall feels like one of those ideas that only Apple can push into the mainstream — if Samsung or Huawei had delivered a similar feature, it would almost certainly be a gimmick. But the foundation for 3D Touch is solid and well-considered, and it’s easy to see how the latent potential can turn into reality.
While new iPhones are always faster than their predecessors, 3D Touch promises to make the overall user experience faster, more intuitive, and more efficient in a way that we can actually see with our eyes.
With handset manufacturers always churning out wonky new features in a never-ending attempt to land upon a “killer feature”, it’s easy to grow weary of features that seem great on paper but actually have no real practical value. 3D Touch, by all accounts, will be a much appreciated change of pace in this regard.