You got me at Force Touch

Anthony Caruana
27 May, 2015
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After a week of using a MacBook and a couple of weeks with an Apple Watch, I’ve found myself pressing on my iPhone’s display and Magic Trackpad, expecting Force Touch gestures to work, even on unsupported devices.

It’s a funny thing when a new feature from one device or platform becomes so ingrained in such a short time. And, to be honest, I approached the review periods with those devices with some scepticism. But both the Apple Watch and MacBook have changed my expectations of how I use my tech.

Apple Watch

Force Touch on the Apple Watch is an interesting solution to the challenge of using a gesture-driven interface on a 38mm or 42mm touchscreen. I’m honestly surprised that it works so well and I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t make it to the next iPhone.

It does take some time to become accustomed to using Force Touch. After many years of conditioning to be gentle with screens and to not push too hard on touchscreen, I’ve had to change the way I work – much like when Apple changed the way scrolling works with mice and trackpads when it introduced natural scrolling – but it now feels normal.

So much so that I’ve been pressing on my iPhone and iPad, expecting the Force Touch gestures to work.

MacBook

There’s a lot to like about the new MacBook, although the price tag is much higher than I’d expect for a device that is intended as a secondary computer. Force Touch on the trackpad is not as pervasive.

The challenge is I have already adapted to using a trackpad in a specific way over a number of years. I use the trackpad on my main computer, a MacBook Pro, when I travel and a Magic Trackpad when I’m in the office. Also, one of the applications of Force Touch on the trackpad is to launch Quicklook on documents. I’ve already established a habit, using the spacebar to preview documents without opening them.

Also, it’s going to take some time for applications to take advantage of that new feature. For example, in native Mac apps, Force Touching a word brings up the dictionary and thesaurus. That doesn’t work in the current release of Microsoft Word, although we’d expect it in Word 2016.

It’s clear that Force Touch will become a part of the OS X experience. The new trackpads are being progressively added as each MacBook Pro and MacBook Air is updated. There’s little doubt that it will be added to the iPhone and iPad – if not in the next releases, certainly by the one after.

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