by Jim Lynch

3D Touch is the iPhone equivalent of bubble wrap

Apr 14, 2016
Consumer ElectronicsiOSiPhone

Apple’s 3D Touch feature can be addictive once you get used to using it. It’s the digital equivalent of the bubble wrap that so many people like to pop with their fingers. Yes, 3D Touch is that fun to use.

When Apple released the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, one of the biggest new features was 3D Touch. 3D Touch lets you press down on the screen to access menus, preview web pages and emails, and even multitask quickly by pushing on the left part of the screen.

And despite some of the criticisms of 3D Touch, it has proven to be not only a useful feature to those who use it, but also an addictive one. Think bubble wrap here. Yes, bubble wrap.

If you’ve ever had a piece of bubble wrap in your hands, you know how addictive it is to simply pop bubble after bubble just to feel and hear the bubbles popping. Using 3D Touch is a bit like that on the iPhone 6s [ Find it on Amazon *What’s this?* ] and 6s Plus.

I’ve experienced this myself while using 3D Touch on my iPhone 6s Plus [ Find it on Amazon ]. Sometimes I just can’t resist pressing down while using an app just to feel the haptic feedback of 3D Touch. It sounds silly but it’s true.

Some iOS users can’t live without 3D Touch

3D Touch isn’t just fun to use, it’s also become an important tool for some iOS users. A thread in the MacRumors forum underscores just how much some iOS users love 3D Touch:

Hieveryone: “I just wanted to take a minute to tout how necessary 3d touch is. I use every time I go to safari and opera browser. It makes things faster.

I didn’t realize how imperative it was until today.

I got a Samsung phone via their test drive program. And while the phone is premium and really good, not having 3D Touch makes it feel out dated.”

Applefan4: “I use it for:

Opening app manager (better and quicker than double tapping the home button once you get used to it)

Moving cursor around by 3D touching the keyboard (amazing feature)

Previewing messages in what’s app so it doesn’t appear as ’read’”

Nordique: “I too feel similar to the OP at times…I now use it frequently and its my main method of switching apps. I don’t remember the last time I clicked the home button twice, sometimes I don’t even press the home button at all (just touch it for touch ID)…its pretty incredible how that change occurred.

When I go to my 6P or 5s, I often find myself wishing I could use 3D touch and sometimes find myself pressing into those screens by way of habit. That was the moment I realized I had converted to 3D touch use without even realizing it!

Its definitely a really cool feature.

Edit: Its surprisingly natural and simple to go into the multitask switcher; when multitasking between several apps I find its a lot faster to multitask with than pressing the home button twice. For example, 3D touch between Microsoft Word and Excel when doing work on the go and use the 3D touch to activate the cursor on the keyboard…it makes using a phone so much easier than before to do work. I feel productive when commuting on public transit now haha

Hopefully Apple really expands on this feature set with the next iPhone and the next iOS.”

TWD98j: “Yes 3D Touch has been a game changer for me too. I use it mainly for….

  • Shortcuts when opening apps

  • Previewing messages and URLs

  • Switching between apps

As of yet, I’m not sure whether 3D Touch is as much of a game changer as Touch ID was when it debuted on the 5S. But still, I do feel like I have been spoiled by it. For example, I have a regular 6 for my work phone and at least once per day I find myself pressing on the screen and then I suddenly remember that it doesn’t have 3D Touch.

Actually 3D Touch is the reason I would not buy an iPad right now simply because Apple hasn’t brought 3D Touch to the iPad lineup yet and I don’t want to go back to an iOS device that doesn’t have 3D Touch just like I wouldn’t want to go back from Touch ID to passwords either.”

Pnr2020: “I use it on safari and emails and find myself using it more and more. At first I thought it was just a gimmick but it’s actually useful.”

Rambo47: “I also thought the fingerprint reader was a gimmick too, but now I can hardly imagine not unlocking my phone with anything but a single press of the home button. 3D Touch is turning out to be the same kind of thing. It’s just so convenient and streamlines using the phone in a ton of little ways. They add up to a smoother and more efficient way of doing things.”

Qbnkelt: “I’d been relying on it more than I thought.

On Monday I was able to finally dump my HORRIBLE work issued SGS5 and got my new work issued iPhone 6. Which of course hasn’t got 3D Touch.

I was SO LOST! I kept wanting to use it to peek at my messages or to correct a typo.

As with my experience with Apple products, the new features become so second nature so quickly that I find it difficult to go back without them.”

TheScribe: “I have found one standout feature of 3D Touch over the last couple of weeks: voice recording.

I recorded quite a few memos and the process is simple and almost immediate…quick unlock with Touch ID, slide up to and 3D Touch the voice memo app and then slide your fingertip to “new recording”. Boom! A top notch voice recorder.”

More at the MacRumors Forum

Apple’s iPads still need 3D Touch

Like many of the folks in the MacRumors thread, I’ve found myself using 3D Touch much more than I expected. And it’s made it somewhat difficult when using iOS devices that don’t offer it. It’s a feature that is very much missed once you get used to it.

For example, when using my iPad Pro I will sometimes move my hand to the left side of the screen to press down and access the multitasking screen. Of course no iPad currently offers 3D Touch, including the iPad Pro. So it’s a bit frustrating to not be able to use it on my iPad Pro.

Since 3D Touch is still so new, Apple has largely gotten a pass about not including it in any of its iPads. But that will change in the future. If the next version of the iPad Pro doesn’t include 3D Touch then Apple is probably going to have some very unhappy iPad customers.

How to adjust 3D Touch sensitivity in iOS

One simple way to help you get the most out of 3D Touch is to adjust the sensitivity level. Apple offers Light, Medium and Firm options in the 3D Touch controls.

3d touch

Here’s how you can adjust 3D Touch sensitivity:

1. Open the settings app.

2. Tap on General.

3. Tap on Accessibility.

4. Tap on 3D Touch.

5. Move the 3D Touch slider to your preferred level of sensitivity.

6. Verify your choice by pressing down on the image in the 3D Touch sensitivity test.

Once you get the sensitivity level set right, you’ll find 3D Touch much more enjoyable to use. I prefer the Light setting because I have some tendonitis problems in my fingers, and using less pressure saves some wear and tear on my fingers.

3D Touch is a feature that grows on you

I’ve heard some folks blithely dismiss 3D Touch as an unimportant feature that they don’t use much in iOS. But my experience with 3D Touch has actually been the opposite. The more I use it the more I come to rely on it.

3D Touch is a sleeper feature that grows on you if you put the effort in toward integrating it into your use of iOS. If you just ignore it, then it will probably never do much for you. But once you get used to it, 3D Touch might permanently change how you use iOS.

Now let’s just hope that the next versions of the iPad have 3D Touch built into them.

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