Smartphone companies copy each other all the time, and that includes Apple. We know, we know. But there’s one vendor that finds itself in the news for copying its top rival a bit more often than most, and there is actual evidence that appeared in court suggesting that Samsung copies Apple more actively than other companies. So, when Apple comes out with a hot new feature like 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s, many Apple fans begin half-jokingly asking the question: When is Samsung going to copy it?
We still can’t say for sure whether or not Samsung plans to add a similar feature to its future smartphones, but it looks like a new technology under development at one of Samsung’s partner companies could hold the key to enabling an experience similar to 3D Touch on future Galaxy smartphones.
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Earlier this week, Synaptics announced that it is developing new tech called ClearForce, which should eventually allow Android smartphone makers to add 3D Touch functionality to their smarphones. While Synaptics didn’t mention any specific vendor partners, the company did say that it “has been working closely with leading global OEMs and LCMs to deliver this new dimension in touch with force-enabled smartphones expected to ship in early 2016.”
For the time being, there is no evidence that Samsung might be among the “leading global OEMs” with which Synaptics is currently working. Interestingly, however, Samsung news blog SamMobile suggested that the Galaxy phone maker could be one of the companies testing ClearForce in its phones. Samsung and Synaptics have worked together before, and it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see Samsung jump at the opportunity to adopt pressure-sensing touchscreen technology as quickly as possible.
As we noted in our iPhone 6s review, 3D Touch was five years in the making at Apple, so it’s going to be difficult to replicate quickly, if Android vendors hope to do so in a meaningful way. Synaptics did say that it has been working on this tech for some time now, though it is unclear how long the company’s Android vendor partners have been involved.
Here are some of the features Synaptics plans to enable with ClearForce:
- Variable speed scrolling
- Picture zoom and panning
- Function preview and selection
- Continuously variable gaming control functions
- Unlock and wake up
- Right-side mouse click behavior (open contextual menus)
- Line thickness control while drawing (e.g., when writing Chinese characters and creating artwork)
- Image editing (brightness, contrast, saturation)
- Upper case and symbol selection (to bypass keyboard mode changes)