IPhone XR: No 3D Touch, but Haptic Touch is available – What Functions are Missing on the Budget Flagship

The iPhone XR (detailed review) introduces a new mechanism for tactile feedback – replacing the familiar 3D Touch that has been around since the iPhone 6s with a technology called Haptic Touch. The good news – in theory – is that the new feature works in a similar way for the most part.

iPhone XR

3D Touch is a prime example of a promising technology that its creators, for various reasons, did not continue to develop. After all, the use of 3D Touch, for the most part, was limited to shortcuts for icons on the home screen and document previews in Files and Photos. And now, it seems that “3D touch” is being prepared for an honorable “retirement”.

Examples of using 3D Touch (this is not something that iPhone XR can do):

3D Touch on iPhone: what it is, how to use it, enable and disable

3D Touch when opening links in Safari

3D Touch operates by the sensitivity of the iPhone screen to pressure – different levels of force activate different scenarios. That was the case until the iPhone XR, where this technology was first disabled.

But did they really disable it? It seems that Haptic Touch is just a new name for our old friend.

Haptic Touch is a long press plus vibration.

If you have been using an iPhone or iPad since iOS 11, you are already somewhat familiar with Haptic Touch. Just to remind you, in the 11th version of the Apple mobile operating system, there were five different types of taps:

1. “Normal” tap (touch).

2. Long press for dragging (e.g. images).

3. Longer press for deleting or moving app icons.

4. Special “semi-long” tap to call up an additional menu in the Dock.

5. Tapping (or long tapping) on notifications to access additional options.

Haptic Touch is activated similarly to tap number two on this list. If you have a device with iOS 11, you can try it out right now. Open Control Center (swipe up from the bottom of the display to the center), and then press and hold one of the icons that appear – for example, the brightness or flashlight slider. When you tap and hold your finger on it, the icon expands into a large slider.

Examples of using Haptic Touch:

3D Touch in the Notification Center

3D Touch in Notification Center

3D Touch in Notification Center

Now imagine the same gesture, but accompanied by a slight vibration from the Taptic Engine motor in the iPhone. That’s what Haptic Touch is – a long press combined with haptic feedback, indicating that you have just successfully performed an action.

It seems that Haptic Touch is already doing most of the things that were previously done by 3D Touch. For example, in iOS 12 (detailed review), a new trackpad mode was added, which is available on any iPhone or iPad compatible with this version of the OS. It allows you to turn the keyboard on your tablet or smartphone into a trackpad.

However, familiar 3D Touch gestures Peek and Pop (force presses on apps to get menus with additional actions, as well as previewing content) are now unavailable.

All you need to do is press the Space key on the virtual keyboard with force using one finger. As a result, it turns into a trackpad, and a cursor appears on the screen above, which can be conveniently moved instantly over long distances.

So is 3D Touch dead? Right now – definitely not, because in the new iPhone XS and XS Max, the old technology is still available. But in the long term, we can and should doubt 3D Touch – apparently, Apple has made the iPhone XR a testing ground for abandoning 3D Touch. If the results of Apple’s “experiment” satisfy them, we may well say goodbye to 3D Touch completely in 2019.

  • Hidden iPhone features: 25 iOS functions you may not know about.
  • 8 reasons to buy iPhone 7 instead of iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max or iPhone XR.
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