New pressure sensitive sensors in the latest Apple MacBook and Watch, which give devices the human-like ability to distinguish between a touch and tap, could be making its way to the next iPhone.
According to the Wall Street Journal, an Apple supplier says the company is considering adding Force Touch to the next iPhone as it works on a sequel to the record-breaking quarter that followed the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Apple announced Force Touch at its recent Spring Forward event where it unveiled the Watch, its new single USB 3.0 port 12-inch MacBook, and updated MacBook Air laptops.
On the forthcoming MacBook, Force Touch is integrated into the trackpad, which on the surface looks the same as the old trackpad but introduces a new two-way tactile exchange, allowing the user to communicate what they want to do by pressing harder or softer. The MacBook's trackpad has four force sensors that detect a click anywhere on its surface, as opposed to the traditional trackpad where a click is restricted to the part furthest from the keyboard.
According to Apple, force touching will let the user do things like click on a word and continue pressing the trackpad to bring up definitions, or create a new event in its Calendar app by clicking on a date in an email. Adding pressure to the trackpad can also vary the speed when playing a QuickTime movie, for example, or zoom in on a Map, instead of using the old reverse pinch.
In the Apple Watch, Force Touch works differently. Force Touch is integrated with the device's flexible Retina display, which, according to Apple Insider, relies on electrodes that detect how much the screen bends under the user's touch. Pressing the screen will bring up controls for different apps like Messages, Music, and Calendar as well as switch watch faces, and search for an address in Maps.
Presumably, if Apple were to carry Force Touch over to the iPhone, it would need a similarly flexible display.
According to the WSJ report, Apple will retain the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but may add pink to its current colour lineup of silver, gold, and space grey.
The paper notes that Apple often tests various technologies and designs with its suppliers before releasing them to the public, so the feature may not ever see the light of day. However, it added that mass production for some of the components is expected to start in May.
Apple has called Force Touch "the most significant new sensing capability since Multi‑Touch".