Google Emulates iPhone’s 3D Touch Feature on Pixel Phones Using Just Software

BY Asif Shaik

Published 3 Mar 2020

Apple iPhone 3D Touch

Remember the immensely useful 3D Touch feature that Apple removed from all its iPhones with iOS 13? Well, Google is adding a similar feature to its Pixel smartphones with an update using just software.

While Apple removed 3D Touch from its newer iPhones, starting with the iPhone 11, Google is adding a feature that works in a similar way but does so without a need for a special pressure-sensitive layer on the screen. It works solely via software algorithms, and that’s what’s great about Google. It does things via just software and algorithms, while other brands require special hardware for the same functionality.

As a part of the second feature drop for its Pixel phones, the internet search giant is bringing a ‘Long Press’ feature that helps users in doing things in apps more quickly. According to Google, the feature works in limited places right now. It works in the App Launcher, Driver, and Photos. Users can firmly press UI elements to bring options faster than usual. The company plans to bring the feature to more first-party apps in the future.

The Long Press feature basically uses Android’s Deep Press API, which explicitly says that using the new action that requires a user to firmly press shouldn’t reveal new options. In fact, it should display the same options that are seen when a regular long-press action is performed. This is because Android is fragmented and many developers don’t use standard APIs for long-press actions.

Google has figured out a way to use machine learning to detect whether you’ve firmly pressed the screen or not. Notice that when you firmly press the screen, more area of your finger is registered by the capacitive touchscreen layer, and that’s how Google determines what to do on its Pixel phones.

The software update that’s being rolled out to Pixel phones also brings other features such as scheduled dark mode, improved adaptive brightness, create actions based on which Wi-Fi network the phone is connected to, new emojis, new AR effects for Google Duo, and more gestures using the Pixel 4’s Motion Sense chip. The update also brings a new way to bring up more cards from Google Pay by long-pressing the power button.

[Source: Google Pixel Support]