When you have a technology that needs to scale across your platform before it can really gain acceptance, having to delay its adoption is never a good idea. That’s turning out to be the case with introducing Apple’s 3D Touch interface to the iPad. In short, it’s not happening next year, and could be two generations of device away from a debut.

3D touch in iOS was introduced earlier this year on the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Building on the Force Touch trackpad on the new MacBook, it allows iOS to sense how hard a user was pushing down on the screen and offer appropriate responses. At the moment this is mostly limited to shortcuts on the home screen, previewing a webpage link, and glancing at an almost full-screen photo before deciding whether to view it completely.

Its impact has been limited. With the majority of iOS devices in use not having 3D Touch no developer (first- or third-party) can commit to a feature that requires the feature. As more devices are sold with the capability, there will come a point where 3D Touch can be assumed and the degradation choice flips to ‘do something that’s a bit more awkward if it is not present’, but Apple’s ecosystem is not at that point yet.

With the delay in rolling out 3D Touch to the 2016 iPads, it’s going to be longer than I expected for 3D Touch to be pervasive enough to make a difference. That’s fine if you are playing the long game (which I think Apple is) but there’s the long game, and then there’s waiting until you are behind in the eleventh inning before bringing on your star pitcher.

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Taaza Vaartha

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