It’s no secret that Apple has been on the forefront of app and product technology for years, but what has always impressed people in the industry has been their ability to take something no one thought could be improved, and do exactly that. With the introduction of the Force Touch pad, app developers are seeing a whole new world of possibilities opening up, and the applications for the tech have already made waves for mac owners everywhere, but what is the Force Touch, and why have so many people gone nuts for it?
Force Touch Overview
The Force Touch is a new type of track pad for Macbooks. It does everything a conventional track pad does, but with one big difference; it pays attention to how hard it’s pressed. The Force Touch can sense the strength of a push on its surface, as well as how fast that push takes place. In other words, it adds a whole new dimension of range, user interaction, and response for its applications.
When working within an application, developers can now add additional interaction when pressure is put on the pad. This can let the app open new windows or take the user to new sections without having to double click. This serves as a secondary action which can have different applications throughout the existing software.
Imagine, instead of having to double click or click in multiple areas to get different commands, you could alternate between pressing and clicking. This would not only make things more convenient, it would also open up valuable screen space and allow for more interaction throughout the app experience.
Not only can the Force Touch pick up on if the pad is being pressed, but it can also measure sensitivity. In other words, different levels of pressure could set off different triggers on the screen. See the picture above where a golf game has been created. In this game, the amount of pressure applied would gauge how hard the ball is hit. The potential applications for pressure sensitivity range from gameplay to consumer tracking to allowing for different practical functions to be gauged and measured as a user interacts with apps.
The biggest present market for this tool is drawing. With pressure sensitivity, programs that make use of Apples legendary art rendering powers will have a whole new dimension, and artists that work with the Force Touch will now be able to interact with it as though it were more like paper than ever before.
Media can also make use of the Force Touch with accelerators. Imagine being able to adjust the playback speed of your videos just by applying pressure. This will give users a much more intuitive interface than they are presently used to, and will make watching any kind of media on a Mac an immersion experience.
Drag and Drop
When doing a drag and drop, users will be able to interact with their environment and use the Force click to perform a new drop in an area that may not have been available to them before. With the Force Touch, drag and drop, as well as a multitude of other programs, won’t just be a simple start and stop command, but instead will become much more dynamic.
Use the AppKit Framework to Build Apps that Support Force Touch
So, now that we’ve discussed what the Force Touch can do, how easy is it to incorporate it into your coding? As it turns out, it’s easier than you think.
NSGesture Recognizer Class Reference
A whole library of commands for the appkit has become available for coders that work with the Force Touch. With the gesture recognizer, you can set any method action you want to respond to a different type of gesture, or in this case, sensitivity and pressure. You get to control what actions take place when, and as a result of this quick and easy coding add-on, slipping new interactivity into existing apps is quick and easy.
NSButton Class Reference
Now when you code, you can add a separate class state to your buttons. You will no longer be restricted to on and off, but instead will be able to add a third dimension via NSButton class references for force and sensitivity.
NSEvent Class Reference
Not only will you be able to add a single action, but a series of events can easily be tied in via the Appkit. The NSEvent Class reference schema is familiar and easy to work with, and will provide you with the means to wrap pretty much anything you need into one reference.
If you are working in OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 or later, then the Force Touch is compatible with everything you are doing. Also, future versions of the OS will automatically be supportive of the Force Touch language tools.
For more on the Force Touch, check out this Youtube video:
This brief product demo scratches the surface of what this new technology will be capable of doing. When it comes down to it, no other hardware developer in the world can currently match what Apple has done wioth the Force Touch. As the hardware becomes more common and the software expands to meet its abilities, it’s only a matter of time before the Force Touch and its apps become second nature to Mac users everywhere.
If you’re a coder, take the time to check out the resources provided by Apple on this amazing hardware innovation. You may find that this is the something special that you have been waiting for to provide you user with the ultimate interactive immersion experience on your Macbook, or you might just find that it solves a series of problems in terms of navigation. However you use the Force Touch, we’re sure it will take you places you’ve never thought possible.