3D Touch - Peeking & Popping!

3D Touch - Peek & Pop
by Guest columnist August Flassig

In late 2014, Apple introduced the Apple Watch, which went on sale in Spring 2015, with a feature called “Force Touch.” Later in 2015, this feature moved to the Mac, starting with the redesigned MacBook, with the “Force Touch Trackpad.” With “Force Touch,” the surface is solid and does not move, but it can detect varying degrees of pressure between a tap and a press. So on the Apple Watch, pressing harder on the screen gives you new menus and options. Pressing down on the trackpad while the cursor is over a word shows a dictionary definition. A stronger press will speed up the skip speed in a movie. What is amazing about this technology is that when the computer is off, the trackpad doesn't move. It uses “haptic feedback,” where a linear actuator generates a click sensation instead of actual clicking. Apple’s original multitouch trackpads, you could only “click” by pressing down on the bottom half, because it was built similar to a diving board. On the new “Force Touch Trackpad,” you can click anywhere and get the same feedback, even at the very top of the trackpad because the sensors detect where you click. I mention all of this to give a sense of perspective of what 3D touch, a feature very similar but a bit more advanced, will do.

Peek & Pop

3D touch was released on iPhone 6S and 6S Plus (Apple skipped the SE) and uses the pressure sensitivity to add more options and features. They call these features “peek and pop” and I’ll be honest, I think the marketing team must have taken a break that day. For the Mac users here, “peek” is like “Quick Look,” giving you a preview of a file before opening it. On the screenshot below, I’ve “peeked” at the contents of the Tech Me Back website, getting a preview. “Pop” is actually opening them website and I can do this by pressing into the screen. This feature becomes handy so we can stay in the current app but preview a link to somewhere else. If someone sends you their address, you can “peek” at it and see quickly where it is. This means if someone texts you an address, you won’t leave Messages, go into Maps and wait for it to load, see the address, and go back into Messages. The address is viewed quickly, while you’re still in Messages, and the conversation can continue.

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Preview Everything

“Peek and pop” became the new way to preview and even respond to messages and emails. In Mail, I can preview a message (with graphic animations). The next screenshot is the message preview and the arrow pointing up indicates I have more options (Reply, Move, etc.).

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In the preview state, you can swipe left for “Read” or “Unread” or swipe right for “Delete.” These features give you the ability to look at a messages and emails without marking them as read.

While using Messages, JPGs, GIFs, or other media shows in the preview. If this were a chat that I left unread, I can “Peek” into it but still have an icon reminding me to respond. If I were to swipe up, I could get quick replies such as “Thanks”, “Thank you”, “Ok”, and “Custom.” Custom just takes you into the message to respond so it feels redundant. If you got a text saying “I got dinner for you” a quick reply of “Thanks” works well.

At the end of the day, “Peek and Pop” feel more like a novelty more than anything else, and you would be right. Previewing pictures in Camera Roll while taking photos can be handy. Press into the Camera Roll icon (it’s a thumbnail of the last picture taken) when the camera is active and see what happens - it’s kinda cool! 3D Touch goes beyond a basic preview. On the home screen, it’s the right click of iOS (if that app supports it).

Press on Everything

The feature of 3D Touch I love the most is getting options before opening an app. Press hard on the camera icon and get options to open with a specific mode. Press hard on the flashlight and get various brightness settings. Press hard on contacts and get quick access to your Favorites list. Not only do you get these quick menus, but if an app supports a widget, you can add that to your widgets screen, the left of the main home screen.

Final Thoughts

3D Touch is a welcome feature to give a new perspective in how we use apps. While some may find it gimmicky and rarely use it, others use it non stop. Now preview a website before I open it or click on an address to see if it’s close by. I enjoy using 3D Touch. We won’t know what iPhone 8 brings or iOS 11, but 3D Touch is here to stay and it’s evolving. I encourage you to try these new features, explore what they do, and have fun with them! See which apps you use support the quick actions or ability to add a widget. Preview a message before you open it or try a quick reply. Whatever you do, try it and see what you think. If you like it please, let us know and leave a comment. If you have questions, please give us a call.