Apple is currently working on building “Force Touch” technology and haptic feedback into the screens of its new iPhones, a source close to the company said.
The new features are very likely to show up in the next iPhone, probably be called the iPhone 6S, which will debut this fall.
Force Touch debuted on the Apple Watch, where it is used to change the watch face. When you press harder on the screen, it senses the increased pressure by measuring the increased surface area occupied by the finger. The device then responds with haptic feedback — a tap — that gives you the illusion you’ve pressed down on a physical button.
It is already built into the trackpads of Apple’s new MacBooks and many people expect it to move to a number of other Apple devices, including the iPhone.
On the larger screen of a phone, it could open up all kinds of possibilities. For instance, you may be able to Force Touch on any word on the screen to bring up a definition. Or you may be able to Force Touch on the screen to change the backdrop image or animation on the home screen.
The end result could be the reduction of clutter in iOS. A function that was once activated by a button might instead be activated by a Force Touch, so the button is no longer needed.
The source said that Apple will also couple the Force Touch feature with haptic feedback engine that might verify to the user that the for gesture has activated a feature. The “Taptic Feedback” engine, as Apple brands it, sits just below the touchscreen and causes the device to vibrate in order to alert you to incoming messages or other notifications.
VentureBeat’s information dovetails with numerous earlier rumors that Force Touch would be part of the new phones.
Patently Apple reports that Foxconn, the Chinese company that assembles the iPhone, expects its touchscreen subsidiary to see handset pressure sensor shipments increase by 4.8 times this year. A spike that big could be from advance orders from Apple for the new iPhone.