Apple has this almost uncanny ability to raise the bar of expectations to a level where looking back on or using older products is almost painful and difficult to bear. Such was the case with every iPhone and iPad to date, and it’s often the case for the Mac, too.
Try using a Mac, any Mac with a hard disk drive, after using a Mac with an SSD inside. The HDD Macs are insufferably slow. Apple just announced new keyboards, trackpads, and a mouse (all apparently made with Magic), and the trackpad has Force Touch, which is also called 3D Touch on the iPhone.
Can you live without such features? Only in retrospect.
Fellow coffee drinker Allyson Kazmucha claims 3D Touch is so great that she came up with six reasons why she couldn’t live without 3D Touch ever again. Ever.
As with all things Apple there might be a bit of hyperbole involved in that perspective, but the impact is much the same. Does your iPhone, iPad, or Mac have a Retina display? If so, what was your first thought when using a device without a Retina display?
The thought usually borders on something like ‘Damn, what’s wrong with the screen?‘ 3D Touch is like that. Use it for a few days with peeks and pokes and switching to an iPhone 6 which is only a year old and you wonder what happened to the cool.
Apple’s A9 CPU in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is faster than last year’s model, yes, but it’s so much faster that, again, after a few days, holding and using an iPhone 6 feels like a trip to a museum. There’s that much difference.
Ditto for Touch ID, Apple’s built-in fingerprint identification sensor. It works so well, so fast, that there are complaints from users that it’s too good, too quick, and even an accidental touch to the Home button triggers Touch ID. But try using Touch ID on an older iPhone or even the iPad Air 2. It’s like waiting for paint to dry.
Once you get used to the little extra push of the finger to trigger 3D Touch you find that it does more than you thought. It even launches new tabs in Safari. Press an app icon– Photos is the good example– and you get a pop up menu. It’s the equivalent of right-click on the Mac’s mouse or trackpad.
3D Touch is so good one has to ask, ‘How much longer before Apple discontinues the Home button on iPhone and iPad?‘ Probably when the screen doubles as a sensor to capture your fingerprint, but the Home button has become somewhat passé.
One issue in iOS’s Mail app that has always bothered me is when I read an email message the Unread badge disappears (changes the message to Read). If I want to keep the message and act on it later I have to swipe again to get it back to the Unread badge stage. 3D Touch comes with Peek and Pop which lets you read a message without disturbing the Unread badge.
It’s one thing to tap and hold a URL to see where the link goes, but it’s entirely different to tap on a link in Safari and have a popup window with a preview of where the link goes. That’s priceless.
3D Touch is also at the heart of selecting text. Press on the keyboard of an iPhone 6s model and the keyboard changes to a trackpad which makes it much easier to maneuver for text editing. It’s crazy easy.
These are just a few of the example of how Apple elevates the user experience just enough to be comfortable and usable and fresh, but also just enough to make last year’s technology seem old, slow, and frail.
I won’t go so far as to say there are new features than I could not live without, but I’ve noticed that each year that I upgrade to a new iPhone, iPad, or even a Mac, going backwards and using an older device– even one that’s just a year old– is a cumbersome, clumsy, awkward experience.
How does Apple do that?