Android N brings native support for iPhone-like 3D Touch displays

3D Touch in action on iPhone 6s. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

3D Touch in action on iPhone 6s. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

Google’s upcoming Android N upgrade will bring native support for iPhone-like pressure-sensitive displays.

The move should make “3D Touch” screens more popular on Android, and will make it easier for app developers to take advantage of them.

They’re hard to come by, but you can already buy Android devices with pressure-sensitive displays — such as the Huawei Mate S and the new Meizu Pro 6. Both use versions of Android that have been adapted to support this function, but that soon won’t be necessary.

Phandroid has discovered that with its Android N Developer Preview 2, Google has added native support for iPhone-like screens. That means Android will soon come with this functionality baked in as standard — and that’s good news for us all.

Not only does it mean that we should see more Android devices with pressure-sensitive screens after N makes its official debut, but it should also encourage app developers to introduce new pressure gestures — just like those in iOS.

Right now, it doesn’t make sense for developers to embrace this functionality, because there aren’t enough compatible devices to make it worthwhile.

Phandroid teamed up with Nova Launcher creator Kevin Barry and developer Steve Albright to demonstrate native pressure support in Android N using a Google Weather widget that displays a five-day forecast when you press it.

“Kevin decided to use a swipe down gesture to launch these shortcuts, but theoretically, anyone creating a launcher – whether an OEM or a 3rd party – could choose what gesture to use,” they explain. “We’re guessing the default “gesture” will be “Force Touch”.”

This gesture would work perfectly alongside Android N’s new launcher shortcuts feature, which lets you perform actions from the home screen. For instance, you can set actions that automatically navigate to a particular location, or create a message to your BFF in just one tap.

iOS also uses 3D Touch for things like webpage and image previews, and to playback Live Photos. Personally, I think it’s a terrific feature that’s pretty underrated, and I love using it. I hope it takes off on Android and we see more handsets with 3D Touch screens soon.