Apple Reportedly Killing 3D Touch: Good Riddance

After a show-and-tell tour with Apple's hardware suppliers, Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis claims that the Cupertino company will get rid of 3D Touch in 2019. But do you care?

Credit: Shutterstock

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Curtis' report echoes an April 29 report by respected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who already claimed that Apple is going to kiss 3D Touch goodbye next year. Barclays notes, however, that "plans aren't finalized yet, so they could change."

The reason may be lack of user enthusiasm. 3D Touch is one of those features that seem good on paper but that most people would never use. There are countless articles reminding everyone about how useful are all those 3D Touch features "you forgot about."

Some critics say that 3D Touch is their favorite iPhone feature, But the same writers point out that most users remain clueless about it.

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The reason is that, while power users may find 3D Touch useful, most normal people don't give a damn about it. They are not using 3D Touch because they are content with their iPhone experience so, for them, there's no need to worry about discovering hidden Dr. Strange finger moves that nobody would ever find out on their own without someone showing them.

Perhaps if 3D Touch were more intuitive, that would be different. Back in the day, the iPhone was a much simpler user experience that resulted in powerful interactions that everyone used constantly--pinching, swipe, click, everything was so self-evident. The learning curve was so smooth and so intuitive that even babies learned how to use it on their own.

But 3D Touch and all the iOS gestures added through the years have resulted in a "user experience nightmare" that requires a cheat sheet. Not only that, 3D Touch adds a layer of complexity that calls up a different type of interaction on top of what a regular user already knows.

As user interface experts Donald Norman and Jakob Nielsen noted in this December 2017 study, gestures like 3D Touch are a step backwards in usability. They are "hard to learn and remember with the general mobile user." Sure, they may be useful for power users, but they hide features away from regular users that, as Nielsen and Norman point out, may never get to discover them.

The iPhone and the iPad truly democratized computing because it took it away from experts. They leveled the field. There was no need to learn anything. But this move to add layers of functionality through hidden gestures is just obscuring that gigantic achievement. And it's doing it in a very stupid way, turning some people into fake "power users" (because, let's face it, learning how to use three-finger gestures in iOS is not very powerful compared to, say, learning the switches of a UNIX command).

Which is why Alan Kay, the father of mobile computing, is not impressed by these hidden power tricks either. That's not what Apple used to be about. And that, coupled with 3D Touch’s apparent lack of popularity, is perhaps why Apple is allegedly killing 3D Touch.

If true, good riddance, I say.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.