Apple may have a reputation for cutting edge technology, but the more we learn about the iPhone plans for 2019, the more it is clear that Apple is lagging behind Android. Not only that, but Tim Cook’s team is ready to cancel a feature once regarded as revolutionary.
This year’s iPhones will not have hardware support for 3D Touch.
The latest evidence for the removal comes from Digitimes and its analysis of the supply chain involved in the manufacturing of the 2019 iPhones. Siu Han and Steve Shen report:
Touch module makers TPK Holding and General Interface Solution (GIS) may see sales grow in the second half of 2019 though Apple may remove 3D touch sensors from all 2019 iPhone devices, according to industry sources.
This backs up other reports and indicators, from the Wall Street Journal at the start of the year, to research by smartphone analysts. The biggest indicator was at this year’s WWDC and the removal of 3D Touch from the iOS 13 betas.Although this omission was classed as a bug by Apple’s Craig Federighi, it is clear that the once revolutionary technology is being phased out of hardware and any support in code is for legacy devices.
Here lies the issue. Apple can announce revolutionary ideas, new interfaces, and new hardware; but it needs to back these up over the long term. Given the length of replacement cycles in smartphones, it’s likely that the last pre-3D Touch handsets would be replaced over the next 12 months, and the majority of those will be looking at either the 2018 or 2019 family of iPhone devices.
If Apple had committed to 3D touch, if it had continued to develop it, and if it had projected enough confidence that it would be present in the 2019 iPhones, then this cycle of upgrades would undoubtedly have seen the installed iPhone base dominated by handsets with 3D Touch… at which point developers could assume that a handset featured it and would be able to start pushing the envelope.
As it is, 3D Touch remains a cute feature, but not one that defines what it means to be using an iPhone.
Contrast the lack of commitment to 3D Touch to that of Face ID. Not only did Apple commit fully to using Face ID on the iPhone, it also backed up these statements by essentially ‘burning the ships’ underneath it by removing Touch ID from the iPhones with Face ID. That made a statement that people believed.
Yesterday’s update to the MacBook family finally eliminated the last new Mac laptop with physical function keys, your new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro is going to feature only the Touch Bar. This isn’t quite an inflection point just yet – laptops have a much longer lifespan and replacement cycles, and the desk-based computers still need an external keyboard with Touch Bar to come as standard, but the potential is still there and the process is under way.
Where was this power behind 3D Touch? Without that power who would commit to using 3D Touch to solve a problem?
And when Apple rolls out the next new feature for the iPhone, shall we gamble that it will be supported through growing pains to mass adoption, or should we play it safe because the chances are it’s not going to break out and becoming something the public adopt before Apple abandons it?