Apple is reportedly planning to phase out “3D Touch,” and fans are not pleased. Rumors claim that the $699 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, expected to launch next month, will drop the pressure-sensitive display as a cost-saving measure. However, new reports suggest the removal is the predecessor to a wider dropping of the feature across the iPhone range for next year.
“The complete removal of 3D Touch from iPhone would be devastating,” a Reddit user called “grasshopper690” said on the Apple subreddit, in a post that has nearly 500 upvotes at the time of writing. “Even just removing it from the lower tier phones would be bad. The whole ecosystem needs to have it. The technology is awesome; it just needs to be pervasive.”
The company introduced the feature to great fanfare just three years ago with the iPhone 6S, touting it as “the next generation of multi-touch” that allows users to “do things that were never possible before.” The feature came after the launch of the Apple Watch, which uses a similar feature called “Force Touch” to change the clock face and access options on the tiny screen. On the iPhone, it’s used for accessing special shortcuts by hard pressing on app icons, changing apps faster, moving the keyboard cursor around easier, and “peeking” at web links before opening.
The feature hasn’t exactly set the world alight as expected. Two months after the 6S launch, Apple sent a note to developers pushing them to use the technology in their apps. It remains a niche feature despite these efforts, and neither the 2016 iPhone SE nor any iPad offered the hard press feature. Part of its obscurity may lie in the fact that the user interface offers no clues that a user can hard press an item, though.
“It needs to be obvious,” a Reddit user called “stjep” said on the Apple subreddit. “I only just discovered that you can 3D Touch a folder to bring up all the apps that have notifications waiting (badged icons).”
Reports suggest the feature’s time may have come to a close. An April note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple may drop the feature from the cheapest of the three new models, as it switches to a “Cover Glass Sensor” process to offer better shock resistance. The new process raises the panel price by 15 percent to $26, so the removal of 3D Touch comes as a counterbalance. Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis claimed this week, based on supply chain sources, that it’s “widely understood” the feature will disappear in all 2019 models.
A poll from 9to5Mac writer Guilherme Rambo measured sentiment in the community. At the time of writing, with nearly 5,000 votes, 52 percent of respondents said they would be bothered if the feature was removed, with a further three percent claiming they would switch to Android:
However, not everyone is convinced that Apple will drop the feature. Steve Troughton-Smith, a developer that’s prominent in the community, expressed skepticism over the reports:
Ed Cormany, another Apple community member, noted in response to Troughton-Smith that the move could make sense after a redesign of the home screen (known internally as the “springboard”). Rumors surfaced in February that Apple had reorganized internal iOS development, so instead of producing headline features each year, teams could internally push back certain features. Among the first to use this change is a redesign of the iPhone home screen, now set for a 2019 launch.
Should Apple pull the trigger on the touch technology, it could upset a number of fans that have grown to depend on it.
“I really hope the removal of 3D Touch is just a rumour,” a user called “Axonn101” wrote on the Apple subreddit. “I just find myself repeating the ‘it makes no sense’ line.”