Almost quietly Apple has started another computer revolution. Buried under the weight of Apple Watch and the new multi-colored MacBook models, is a device masquerading as a trackpad but which may set the wheels of change into motion for future mobile devices.
This new revolution is called Force Touch. It’s Apple’s new MacBook trackpad (also available in the new 13-inch MacBook Pro model). Big whoop, right? A trackpad is a trackpad is a trackpad. Well, not quite.
First, Apple’s Mac trackpads have set the industry standard for durability, usability, and precision. Force Touch takes the trackpad to another level. It’s thin sheet of glass surface with no button. That’s right. Press down of a Force Touch trackpad and you’ll feel a click, just like the earlier trackpad model. But there’s no actual click, even though you feel it. Apple uses sensors to detect how much pressure you apply to the trackpad, then vibrates the pad to make you feel, well, the feedback. It feels like a click. But there’s no actual click.
The amount of sensitivity is adjustable, too. Press the trackpad a bit harder and you’ll feel another, slightly stronger ‘click’ which can be assigned to additional options. It even senses whether you’re touching with thumb or finger. But on the surface it all just looks and works much like trackpads have worked for years.
It does not take much effort to visualize the future of Apple’s Taptic Engine. It’s also in use in Apple’s Watch– both on the screen and with the haptic feedback on the back.
Now, imagine an entire screen with such feedback. iPhone and iPad come to mind right away. As it works now, we can touch a button on the screen and something happens. The only feedback is the action initiated with the touch. I can envision feedback to the screen that makes a touch feel a response– keyboards, buttons, and much more. Press a bit harder, and a different feel occurs, which also signifies a different function. Pressure sensitive drawing is on the way to the iPhone and iPad, folks.
Now, if we could just get Apple to combine Touch ID with facial and voice recognition for enhanced security.