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Google’s Pixel phones are going to ‘steal’ a signature iPhone feature

Google’s Don’t-Call-Them-Nexus Pixel phones that are due to be announced shortly, and they’ll run Android 7.1 Nougat out of the gate, an Android update that will bring several special new Pixel features. A new leak suggests that one of them will be strikingly similar to the iPhone 3D Touch feature, but don’t call it that.

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3D Touch, available on iPhone 6s and iPhone 7, is a new technology Apple introduced last year. It needs a special piece of hardware to create a pressure-sensitive display, and it mostly works as a shortcut springboard that lets you quickly access or preview things without actually opening the app.

It turns out that Google is “stealing” the feature for the Pixel phones, but only partially. Android Police analyzed recent code from Google apps and discovered that the Pixel’s round icons aren’t the only novelty in the upcoming Pixel Launcher. Each application will have app shortcuts itself that will work just like the iPhone shortcuts. The difference is that a pressure-sensitive screen might not be required — so far rumors have not mentioned any pressure-sensing hardware for the Pixel or Pixel XL.

google-pixel-pixel-xl-3d-touch-shortcutsImage source: Android Police

Google could use other gestures to bring up app shortcuts, and Android Police’s mockup image above offers us an idea of what they should look like.

An app would be able to create list items dynamically based on the shortcuts the developer supports, and users would be able to pin down the most used ones. Just like 3D Touch, this unnamed Google gesture should help users reach certain in-app items faster than before.

Google is going to unveil the Pixel phones on October 4th, at which point we’ll probably learn all there is to know about the Pixel Launcher’s new features.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.