Dan Moren, writing on Six Colors last week:
Over the past few days, I’ve seen a ton of people on Twitter (including plenty of folks I’d describe as pretty tech savvy) have their mind blown by a tweet explaining how to move the cursor on the iOS keyboard.
This points to a larger, more fundamental issue cropping up with iOS as the platform becomes more mature: how do you add functionality and make it easily discoverable?
Some of the challenge here is simply because of iOS’s constraints: Where on the smaller screen can you add more features that would be easy to discover? But another challenge is how the OS is architected. The Mac nearly always treated the menu bar as a “safe” zone to which you could always retreat if you needed to find a command. There’s no real analogue to that on iOS, with the exception perhaps of the status bar, which isn’t, aside from the aforementioned “jump to the top” feature, an interactive element.
I think this is a big part of the challenge Apple is dealing with as it continues to evolve and push iOS forward. iOS has made easy so many things that used to be difficult or require a lot of technical know-how, but as we ask more from our devices and as developers deliver it, we lose some of that initial pared-down elegance that Apple sought.
Sometimes I wonder if we’ll eventually end up with a tooltips-everywhere approach again, iPhoto for iOS-style.
See also: Fixing 3D Touch, from June 2018.
I should start with the obvious. 3D Touch is broken! The user experience is far from great. Apple introduced 3D Touch and its new related interactions Peek and Pop in 2014. It’s been almost 4 years since its first introduction, yet people don’t know/use 3D Touch. Why would they? Even tech-savvy users don’t know which buttons offer 3D touch. Let alone regular users.
What would happen if we decide to make all links same color and style as the regular text? People would not know what to click on right? Why is 3D Touch be any different? We rely on our vision to decide actionability before anything else. If you can’t distinguish 3D Touchable buttons from those that are not, how are you supposed to know you can press on them? Look at this screenshot and see if you can tell which of the buttons can be 3D Touched.
I couldn’t agree more with the idea of “decorating” buttons with 3D Touch visual cues.
Here’s the thing: I use 3D Touch a lot, and I love the fact that it’s the modern equivalent of a contextual click, but, anecdotally speaking, I’ve never seen any of my friends or relatives use it. Not the quick actions on the Home screen, not peek and pop. It’s like 3D Touch just isn’t there for them. It’s hard to say whether the very concept of 3D Touch is flawed or if iOS’ design prevents discovery of this unique interaction. However, the argument that an interface with little depth doesn’t lend itself well to a gesture built around pressing into UI elements is a compelling one. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with future iPads and iPhones, too.
If you read and listen to enough opinions in the Apple-sphere, you know that there are widely varying views of 3D Touch. Some quickly gave up on it, others found it indispensable, and there seem to be plenty of people in between. When Apple first announced the feature alongside the iPhone 6s, I was intrigued by the potential of 3D Touch to add a new dimension of depth to an otherwise flat slate of glass.
When I got an iPhone 6s, I immediately found that some uses of 3D Touch were handy, but those uses were overshadowed by Apple’s marketing message that focused on peek and pop, distracting from the more valuable benefits the feature offers. However, when I pushed aside the Apple-marketing-infused expectations of how 3D Touch should be used, I quickly discovered how valuable it can be in many cases.
It has been over fifteen months since I began using 3D Touch, and I’m convinced that the true value of it only becomes evident through dedicated practice. If you just use 3D Touch now and then, you may find yourself frustrated by not knowing or remembering what all it can be used for. The lack of iPad support doesn’t help here.
The start of a new year is a perfect time to learn new habits. As we reflect on the year gone by, it is a good time to consider changes for the year ahead – new habits to form, improved practices to follow – with an aim to make our lives better. Train yourself to use 3D Touch, and you’ll benefit in the long run. The closest analogy to 3D Touch I can think of is keyboard shortcuts. Nobody has to learn keyboard shortcuts, but if you’re a power user, you learn them because you know they’ll make your life and work easier and more efficient. 3D Touch can do the same; it improves interactions with my iPhone on a daily basis.
With an update released earlier today on the App Store, Twitter has extended integration with 3D Touch in their iPhone app (previously limited to quick actions on the Home screen) to peek and pop previews in the timeline and other sections of the app.
With the latest version of Twitter for iPhone, you’ll be able to press on tweets, links, pictures, and profiles to bring up a 3D Touch preview of the content. By swiping a peek upwards, you’ll also gain access to shortcuts to either share via direct message and iOS extensions or, in the case of profiles, mute, block, and report a user.
Twitter’s extended 3D Touch support isn’t as advanced as Tweetbot – for instance, peek and pop previews don’t seem to work in the Notifications tab – but it’s a step forward regardless.
You can get the latest version of Twitter for iPhone from the App Store.
Note: this tip was first shared with Club MacStories members over a month ago in issue 16 of MacStories Weekly. We are sharing it today as a one-off sample. Subscribe now and don’t miss out on more iOS tips and workflows.
A hidden option of iOS’ Print feature I’ve recently discovered is a way to export a PDF file from the Print preview screen using 3D Touch. I haven’t been able to replicate it without 3D Touch on the iPad, which makes the option available exclusively on the latest iPhones.
When viewing a page you want to save as PDF – say, a webpage in Safari or a note in the Notes app – open the share sheet, find the Print extension at the bottom, and tap it. This will open a Printer Options screen with a page preview in the lower half. You can swipe on pages to scroll through them, but what I didn’t know is that you can also press lightly on a page and then pop it open to get a Quick Look preview of the PDF file that’s going to be printed. Because it’s a PDF file, you can share it with other apps and action extensions, saving it elsewhere.
Thanks to this hidden feature, you’ll be able to share PDF files generated natively by iOS with other apps, including Dropbox and Workflow, without having to save the PDF to iBooks. I wish this could also be done on an iPad.
Apple yesterday published two new iPhone 6s commercials, this time focusing on two features that are available exclusively on the new iPhone 6s; Live Photos and 3D Touch.
You can watch the videos below break, and we have also included a transcription of the two commercials.
Previous iPhone 6s adverts have included ‘Ridiculously Powerful’, ‘Prince Oseph’, ‘Hey Siri’, ‘Flip a Coin’, ‘Crush’, and ‘The Camera’.