Google Adopts 3D Touch As Apple Is Rumored to Kill It

Apple may be killing 3D Touch but, according to the latest developer documentation for Google’s new Android Q operating system, it seems that the Mountain View company may be re-implementing the feature as something called “Deep Press”.

3D Touch and Deep Press refer to the user ability to press harder on a user interface element — like an icon, a button, or a link — to invoke a different behavior than just clicking on it — like making a contextual menu or a preview appear on screen. For example, hard pressing on Instagram’s app icon using a 3D Touch-equipped iPhone will invoke a menu to create a new post or make a search.

It’s worth noting that, right now, Android enables this behavior using long presses over some user interface elements, app icons being one of them. Deep Press will not change this significantly except adding yet another feature hidden from non-expert users.

Credit: Shutterstock

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

There’s no details about how Deep Press exactly works or how [if] it would be implemented in the final version. The documentation says that it will be used to “accelerate the long press behavior”.

The tweet says that the feature may not even require actual pressure sensitive screens to work, but instead learn from the user operation using Machine Learning. If that’s the case, that will be clever. According to reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis, the Cupertino company may be phasing out 3D Touch due to low usage and, more importantly, to save cost on the 3D Touch-enabled displays.

While 3D Touch has a small group of fierce partisans, the truth is that most iPhone users ignore its existence.

Invisible advanced functionality has arguably turned owning a phone into a user experience nightmare that requires a cheat sheet and Dr Strange hand-waving abilities. Even legendary usability experts Donald Normal and Jakob Nielsen pointed out that these techniques are “hard to learn and remember with the general mobile user” on a December 2017 study.

Still, if Google has found a way to implement this using machine learning instead of expensive hardware, this is good news for power users of Android phones.