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What is Force Touch and why do I need it?

Imagine a car that drives at only one speed, or a stereo system that plays at only one volume. These limitations are not entirely different from the current state of smartphone display tech. But that’s all about to change. Huawei recently unveiled an Android smartphone – the Mate S Luxury Edition due out later this year – that houses a feature known as Force Touch. But what is Force Touch? And why would you want it? Find out below.

androidpit force touch 2
What is Force Touch and why do I need it? Find out here. / © ANDROIDPIT

What is Force Touch?

Force Touch is a new smartphone technology that allows devices to interpret pressure applied to the screen. Currently smartphones can understand when the screen is being interacted with, and for how long – which is how we can tap and hold on an app icon to move it, rather than open it – but don't have the ability to recognize the pressure applied with a tap or press.

Force Touch changes this, opening the door to a whole new realm of possibilities. And, critically, these possibilities might actually be useful.

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Force Touch... geddit? / © ANDROIDPIT

How does Force Touch work?

Mobile products with Force Touch, such as the Apple Watch, are able to perceive pressure by measuring the distance between the glass of the display and the backlight emitted from the device. Phones that lack this physical feature cannot take advantage of the technology.

androidpit huawei mate s force touch screen
The upcoming Mate S Luxury Edition will have Force Touch technology. / © Huawei

What can I do with Force Touch?

What Force Touch can do is limited by what the software developers come up with, but Apple’s 'pop and peek' functionality shows quite a basic way in which it could provide a significant improvement to user-experience. In the iPhone 6s’ email app, you can press on a message and it will pop it out in a preview window. Press harder and you will be taken through to the email, or let go and it will hide, returning you to the inbox.

The same process could be applied to any app or message – you would be able to open it up or view what's beyond a link, without leaving the app or area that you're currently in.

Hawei Mate S hero 4
Force Touch can be used to zoom into photos by pressing on the image a little harder. / © ANDROIDPIT

It may sound insignificant, but imagine I pitch the mouse wheel to you and say: "You can click a bar on the side of your screen and drag it up and down, or you can roll a wheel with your finger to scroll up and down". The difference sounds like nothing but the experience of the latter is far superior. Force Touch could simplify the fundamental way in which we navigate and retrieve information with our phones.

Is Force Touch the same as 3D Touch?

Technically, yes. Experientially, probably not. 3D Touch is the most advanced version of the technology, capable of interpreting more pressure changes than Force Touch, but they do the same thing. Whether the difference between them will be discernible to us humans, or if it’s just numbers on a chart, we don't know yet.

iphone 6s 3d touch
3D Touch is just the more accurate iteration of Force Touch. / © Apple

How can I get Force Touch?

To get Force Touch, you will need a Force Touch compatible phone. Currently, Android has none, though an upcoming variant of the Huawei Mate S will (and it looks pretty nice too). We expect that more Android releases next year will take advantage of the tech though, especially after Apple popularizes it with the 6s and 6s Plus.

iphone 6s 3d touch 2
The number of Android devices that house Force Touch will undoubtedly rise in 2016 thank to the iPhone 6s (above). / © Apple

Final thoughts

The opportunities presented by Force Touch tech are exciting. Though there will likely be a slew of awkward and unnecessary/gimmicky ways in which Force Touch will be implemented, I predict it will be simple changes – such as navigation and content retrieval – that will make smartphones even more comfortable and easy to use. And once this functionality lands, I think we'll wonder how we ever lived without it. 

What are your initial impressions of Force Touch/3D Touch tech? Is it a gimmick or will it revolutionize the way we use smartphones? Let us know in the comments below.


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  • The force touch sounds like it would makes some things more interactive.And simplify some task ....Cant wait to check this out...

    • Dean L. 5 months ago Link to comment

      Hope you had a chance to check it out. I have and see some usefulness with it but haven't bought a phone with it yet. Waiting to see if more phones get this before diving in.

  • Junaid Q. Sep 15, 2015 Link to comment

    when I hear 3D touch in Iphone 6S the first thing that come in my mind is project SOLI of google.
    but when I saw it, it's just pressure sensitive touch screen but still better than normal touch screen phones.
    I want to see project SOLI in Android smart phones
    Project soli will change the way of interacting with devices

  • ljhaye Sep 14, 2015 Link to comment

    Isn't this the same as a long press on many android phones currently on the market. It feels like a gimmicky way for Apple to play catch up once again. We will see copycat Samsung obviously implement this in their next S and note phones as well as huwaei as these two follow Apple products and rumors religiously.

    I wish Google android could have a clear vision for their phones and platform just as Apple seems to have. Example the embarrassment of Google wallet before Apple pay.

  • Well go for any order product of your choice.

  • Please when will the marshmallow bee coming to Samsung Galaxy s5

  • Larry R. Sep 14, 2015 Link to comment

    I'm in the market for a new Phone and not a samsung. I have always bought samsung but now that they are removido the micro si and making the Battery non renovable, well no more samsung for my wife and I. I am looking at Huawei.

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