Posts tagged Touch

The Force (Touch) May Be Strong With iOS 9

Force Touch, one of Apple’s newest and most unique features, may end up in the next version of its iPhone and iPad, according to a recent report on 9to5Mac

The feature, which can trigger actions based on the amount of force users apply in tapping a display or touchpad, first showed up in the Macbook and the Apple Watch, and it could become an important part of the upcoming Apple TV remote. We suspected that the iPhone might be next in line, and now the site’s unnamed sources claim that Apple will imbue iOS 9, the next major update to its mobile software, with Force Touch support. 

See also: How The New Apple MacBook Retired Steve Jobs’s Vision Of Computing

If true, the move, which would require Force Touch-capable displays going into the new Apple smartphone and tablet, could wind up being limited to the company’s homegrown features only. But the site seems convinced that Apple will give app makers access to the feature—which could change the way we interact with games and other iPhone apps. 

Show Of Force

Force Touch is essentially a pressure-sensitive twist on the touch-based gestures that have become standard on trackpads and smart-device displays. Instead of merely touching or pressing to hold an icon, button or other element on the screen, people can change the weight of their taps to perform different actions on their displays. 

An Apple Support page offers all kinds of examples of how to use Force “click” on the new Macbook, with options ranging from quick-editing a file’s name, or seeing a Maps preview of an address or location. 

The feature also lets you know when it registers the input using “haptic feedback,” or small vibrations that alert you when something happens. Those can be simple buzzes that acknowledge a Force Touch entry, or a shake that tells you when you’ve reached the end of an iMovie clip.


New Macbook owners have more options for how they want to set up Force Touch

The addition of pressure-sensitive touches and taps may not sound like a big deal on the face of it. But there are no shortage to the ways developers might take advantage of the new feature. For proof, we can look back to the year 2000, when Sony released the PlayStation 2 game console and its controller with pressure-sensitive buttons.

In the console’s flagship racing title, Gran Turismo 4, players could more subtly apply gas or brakes to their cars depending on how hard they pushed each button. Other games like Metal Gear Solid 2 and MLB the Show offered improvements to gameplay based on similar touch features. However, by the time the PlayStation 4 came out, Sony had dropped pressure-sensitive buttons.


The DualShock 3 was the second PlayStation controller to feature pressure-sensitive buttons. Sony dropped the feature for the PS4’s gamepad, however.

Apple, on the other hand, is not likely to drop Force Touch anytime soon, especially since it just spread the feature across its device categories. 

Use The Force, Devs

With straight taps—read: without Force Touch—the experience is pretty binary. You’re either touching the screen, or you’re holding your finger on the screen. Adding varying degrees of pressure means that developers can start thinking of more creative ways to connect users with their software. 

If iOS 9 delivers the feature, as rumored, then it could bring a shift in the fundamental ways we experience apps. Take game apps, for instance. An iPhone user might find playing a baseball game on a Force Touch-equipped iPad more engaging, since they could control the strength at which they hit the ball. Players could change the speed of their pitches based on how hard they touch the screen. 

Force Touch could also open up new ways for developers to take advantage of the iPhone’s small screen real estate. If you’re trying to move spreadsheet items around, a Force Touch could present more options than a simple tap. Developers could add new contextual menu options, and make other features more accessible, all based on how hard people hit their screens. 

Apple may or may not reveal its intentions next month, when it shows off iOS 9 at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. If the company sticks with its typical pattern, the new iPhones (likely named the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus) may not offer very many hardware changes, so new Force Touch hardware might be the star of the show during its fall press event. The company may not be willing to tip that ahead of time, even to show off the new software tools that would go along with it. 

Then again, Apple may want to tempt them with it sooner rather than later, if it wants developers to “use the Force.” 

Lead photo by Pauli Carmody; Macbook trackpad image courtesy of Apple; DualShock 3 image courtesy of Sony

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Apple’s New Finger-Friendly iPad Air 2, Mini 3 Now Feature Touch ID


As expected, Apple has refreshed its iPad line with a new iPad Air 2, the company’s thinnest and fastest tablet to date. 

The super-skinny iPad Air 2 measures 6.1 mm thick and offers, among other things, TouchID. The new hardware component will help secure certain apps and the tablet itself with fingerprint recognition security. It also makes the iPad ripe for Apple Pay, which will also come to the tablet.

See also: What Apple Announced At Its Thursday iPad Event

In addition, Apple executive Phil Schiller emphasized that the new tablet will offer extremely low reflectivity to kill typical touchscreen glare. Then he boasted about a few more things. The iPad Air 2 features a new A8X, next-generation processor designed specifically for the tablet. Schiller claims the new iPad and its 64-bit architecture offers the fastest performance yet. 


Other additions: Motion co-processor, new barometer, 802.11 ac/MiMo support for faster WiFi, new HD selfie camera with larger 2.2 aperture, and 8MP iSight camera, 1080p HD capture, with burst-mode, time-lapse, and slow motion—just like the new iPhones can do. 

Pricing starts at $499 for 16GB; cellular versions cost $130 more. 

Schiller slipped in an iPad mini announcement: The new generation of the company’s compact tablet will also get TouchID. The iPad mini 3 will sell for a starting price of $399 (up to $599, depending on storage capacity). Budget shoppers will love that the company’s hanging onto the older tablet models, but cutting those prices by $100, to offer cheaper options. Last year’s iPad mini will start at just $299. 

See also: Apple Unveils A New “Retina” Display iMac

All tablets will be available silver, space grey and a new gold color. Pre-orders begin tomorrow, with shipping starting at the end of next week. 

Many people suspected many of these announcements were coming. And if they didn’t, Apple’s accidental leak of its own iPad product info yesterday basically sealed the deal. 

iPad sales have been slowing quite a bit recently, though you wouldn’t know that from Apple’s event. According to CEO Tim Cook, Apple sold more iPads in the first four years than any other product in its history. It sold “225 million iPads around the world,” and 675,000 apps designed especially for it now exist. 

Photo by Apple

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Apple’s New iPad Mini 3 = iPad Mini 2 + Touch ID + $100


If Apple’s pricing for its 7.9-inch iPad minis is anything to go by, it apparently figures you will gladly pay an extra $100 for its Touch ID fingerprint scanner. 

The company’s new iPad mini 3 offers exactly the same specs as last year’s model, excepting only the addition of Touch ID. Yet it will set you back another full 100 clams: 

  • iPad mini 3: 16GB $399, iPad mini 2: 16GB $299
  • iPad mini 3: 32GB none, iPad mini 2: 32GB $349
  • iPad mini 3: 64GB $499, iPad mini 2: none
  • iPad mini 3: 128GB $599, iPad mini 2: none

The very first 2012 iPad mini now costs even less, at $249 for 16GB of storage—but that price differential seems justified, considering it was slower and didn’t come with a high-res “retina” display. 

The new iPad mini 3 is exactly the same size and weight as the iPad mini 2, and boasts exactly the same A7 processor, cameras, screen size and resolution. Meanwhile its bigger sibling, the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2, shaved off 1.4 mm (0.05 inches) and lost 34 grams (0.07 pounds) relative to its predecessor.

It’s also worth pointing out that the new version of the large tablet is the only iPad to come with the new A8X processor—the one Phil Schiller couldn’t stop gushing about today

But back to the iPad mini: The only other differences that we can spot between this year’s and last year’s versions are a new gold color option and a reshuffling of its storage capacity options (as you can see in the list above). Apple has officially ditched the 32GB option in the new model—presumably to shuffle people into larger, pricier tiers. 

Maybe Apple’s paying less attention to the iPad mini now that it has the gargantuan iPhone 6 Plus and its 5.5-inch display. More likely, though, is the possibility that Apple’s big plans to generate iPad excitement relied on the new iPad Air and an even bigger 12.9-inch version, which supposedly got delayed until next year

Either way, if you already have an iPad mini 2 and are wondering if you should upgrade, the decision is pretty simple: Ask yourself if having a fingerprint scanner is worth plunking down more money.

Photo of Touch ID on the iPhone 5S by Kārlis Dambrāns

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Apple’s Touch ID Fingerprint Scanner Is Still Hackable, But Don’t Panic


For the second time in two iPhone releases, mobile-security firm Lookout has tested and bested the security of Touch ID.

Touch ID lets users unlock the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus just by putting their fingerprint over a sensor on the home button. By requiring a fingerprint to unlock the device and make purchases within the App Store, with Apple Pay, or through third-party developers, Apple is trying to make your data and information more secure.

So what happens if it’s hacked?

Lookout’s principal security researcher Marc Rogers hacked Touch ID on the 5S last year, and now he’s done it again. Through a CSI-like process, he was able to unlock an iPhone 6 using a fake fingerprint made of glue.

With such a fingerprint facsimile in hand, an attacker could theoretically take over someone’s iPhone to make purchases or steal the owner’s photographs, email, texts or other personal information. It sounds like a plot from a prime-time crime drama—and so it’s probably only a matter of time until iPhone fingerprint hacks hit the big screen.

While the thought of someone accessing your phone with a copied fingerprint might make you uncomfortable, don’t worry. Accessing a device the way Rogers did takes significant skill, time and effort. And, as we reported last year, a malicious attacker can’t use a finger that’s, well, detached from your body.

Rogers says consumers shouldn’t worry too much about the potential for duping the system.

“I don’t see this to be a risk to consumers in any way because I don’t think criminals are sophisticated enough,” Rogers said in an email interview. “It is difficult to make these fingerprints—think of Touch ID as being the equivalent of a door lock. It’s there to stop the average criminal from getting access, or in the case of Touch ID, claiming they are you.”

Not only does a potential hacker need a clear print from their target that can be lifted by using super glue fumes and fingerprint powder, they will also have to get access to lab equipment to photograph, print, and then cast the fingerprint using chemicals and smearing it with glue. Unless you have access to a crime laboratory, the equipment is prohibitively expensive.


Through the experiment, Rogers discovered that there’s virtually no measurable improvement in the fingerprint sensors between the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 6, except that he got fewer “false negatives,” on the iPhone 6, meaning the reading was clearer.

Even though Rogers is impressed with the technology, he says Apple could do more to keep devices secure. Some improvements, he says, could include limits on the number of unlocking attempts a device will allow, a fallback to a passcode when the device hasn’t been used for a specific amount of time, and “best practices” suggested by Apple which may include using different fingers for different authentication.

“I was hoping to see improvements in the Touch ID sensor that show Apple is working to come up with a solution that cannot be fooled as easily,” he said. “However, while I can’t say Apple isn’t working on this, I don’t see any significant signs of improvement in this version despite the fact that it is now going to be used for payments.”

Lead photo by Selena Larson for ReadWrite; iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S image courtesy of Lookout

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Bing Image Search Updates Include Touch Friendly Result Pages That Adapt To Screen Size & Resolution

Over the next few weeks, Bing is rolling out new updates to its image search experience that include touch-friendly search result pages that have been designed to adapt to a user’s screen size and resolution. According to the announcement, image results will soon expand to the full width of a…



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