As excited as I am to buy a new iPhone 15 Pro Max today, every release day of Apple’s latest phones brings a nagging feeling: I still miss 3D Touch. Introduced in the iPhone 6S and running through the XS and XS Max, this feature could determine how much pressure was applied to the screen with each finger press, and the software could respond differently depending on the level of force.
I remember being blown away by the live wallpaper animations, which would play (and then rewind in reverse) depending on how hard or soft I pressed. 3D Touch also brought other useful tricks like “peek” and “pop,” which let you preview a link or other content with a light press and then open it fully with a firm press.
To cut costs and reduce design complexity, Apple removed 3D Touch from the iPhone XR and all future models, replacing it with a “Haptic Touch” interaction that replicated some of 3D Touch functionality with a long press. But the pressure detection disappeared. My main problem with Haptic Touch is that it has always been a bit slow. You can long-press app icons on your home screen to bring up quick shortcuts, but there’s a slight delay that never existed when 3D Touch detected that you were pressing authoritatively.
Fast setting should be the new norm
Fast forward to this week’s release of iOS 17, and Apple has taken some steps to speed up Haptic Touch, but only if you know where to look to enable a particular setting. For some reason, the new “Haptic Touch Duration” preference is hidden a couple of layers deeper in the accessibility section. I appreciate that Federico Viticci of MacStories highlight this feature in his very complete review of iOS 17; otherwise even I probably would have missed it.
You can choose from three settings: default, fast and slow. Sticking with the default means you’ll still have to wait a bit when using Haptic Touch on iOS. But “fast” makes all the difference in the world, to such an extent that almost It feels like the glory days of 3D Touch. I haven’t noticed any downside to switching to the faster duration, and like Viticci, I think Apple should set this as the new default.
It still really bothers me that Apple abandoned 3D Touch. Even if it was underused and became a feature for advanced users, it was a genuinely unique technology, a rare thing to find. But it’s highly unlikely it will ever return, so at least this new, faster Haptic Touch duration makes the 3D Touch replacement more useful.