When 3D Touch was announced with the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus last year, many thought of it as a gimmicky new feature. There were plenty of articles about how its was pointless (it’s not) and much of the pro-Android crowd called it a replication of the long-press that already exists on Android. Well, to all those who did blindly call it pointless (many without using it) iOS 10 is here to prove you wrong.
I too found the implementation of 3D Touch at the iPhone 6s launch gimmicky and limited, but did not diss the idea since this was Apple and Apple has a developer community like no other. Being an owner of the iPhone 6 Plus, I even hoped and prayed that 3D Touch would fail, because that would mean that my new iPhone 6 Plus (which set me back Rs 80,000) would last at least two milestone updates. Sadly, things did not turn out that way. 3D Touch is not exactly a hit, but Apple and its developers managed to find plenty of applications, including games, that supported it. With the launch of iOS 10, it was clear that 3D Touch is no longer an alternative way to use an iPhone, it is the way to use an iPhone.
To make things clear, 3D Touch is not like the long press on Android. It is quicker as all you need to do to access the hidden menu, is press a bit harder (this can be adjusted in Settings) instead of long pressing and waiting for a pop-up menu to appear like on Android. And this happens instantly, which is where it’s different. Pressure sensitivity also means that there’s no accidental activation if your finger is just resting on the device. Apple also adds two levels for 3D Touch that will let you Peek (standard press) and then (with a little more pressure) Pop open a message or relevant action.
Trying out the iOS 10 Developer Beta and iOS 10 Developer Beta 2 on a non-3D Touch device, we did encounter the usual bugs as expected from a beta release. What was also evident is how the device struggled to load animations, transitions, and overall, felt choppy when the same appeared to run effortlessly on an iPhone 6s. While most of the bugs will gradually disappear by the time the final release version is out, it is easy to say (going by past experience) that iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users will have to wait till iOS 10.3 for a buttery smooth OS.
Frankly speaking, apart from the Music app, lock screen and notifications tray, it’s hard to tell how much iOS has changed from iOS 9 when you’re using it on an iPhone 6. Simply put, even the visual overhaul is limited to the previously mentioned spaces. Fonts have been thickened, the folder animations have been changed and there are a bunch of other visual tweaks that you won’t realise were there till you revert to iOS 9.
3D Touch has taken center-stage with iOS 10 and it seems pretty useful on the iOS 10 beta. On the lock screen, 3D Touch lets you do more than just look at your notifications, you can hard press to clear all notifications at once, (no clue why Apple does not see the need for a Clear All button) and even interact with notifications without even getting into an app. Control Center now actual feels like one, where all the buttons have been laid out neatly. You also get a separate tab for music. Tapping on any of the toggles on an iPhone 6 will take you to the Settings page. Tapping with a little pressure on an iPhone 6s gets you those options right there without the need to leave Control Center.
This gets better when you head into the home screen. Pressing on an icon will now also reveal a widget (if supported by a third-party app) with details pulled from the app. 3D Touch even lets you share any app from the home screen. Another handy feature with iOS 10 and 3D Touch is the ability to jump to a notification inside a folder, which means that you no longer need to open a folder and find the app that has the notifications badge.
These are just the few ways in which we can see how iOS 10 relies heavily on 3D Touch. Indeed, this will make iPhone SE users feel a bit left out as it is the only recently launched model to not feature the same technology. The same goes for iPad Pro users.
Like it or not, 3D Touch is making its presence felt in iOS and we should expect the same display tech to make it to the future iPads as well. As for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users, there is enough reason for you to upgrade to an iPhone 7 or a 7 Plus, as last year’s iPhone 6s is now your only ticket to a true iOS experience.