Best 3D Touch tips for iPhone on iOS 10

3D Touch - the pressure-sensitive screen tech in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus - opens up a world of new features. Here are 15 ways you can use 3D Touch on your iPhone in iOS 10.

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  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 01 3D Touch tips
  • ios 10 3d touch shortcuts 1000 iOS 10
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 02 Instant contacts
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 03 Instant selfies
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 04 App shortcuts
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 05 Peek and pop
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 06 Peek & Pop II
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 07 Cursor control
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 08 App switcher
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 09 Art
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 10 Games
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 11 Peek zoom
  • best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 12 Live Photos
  • 3d touch tips control center Most wanted features
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Apple's interface revolution

3D Touch was without doubt the most exciting new feature of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and was a welcome addition to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus too.

It's largely the same pressure-sensitive screen technology that appears in the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Series 2 (under the name Force Touch), but whereas your watch can distinguish between two degrees of pressure - a standard tap and a harder Force Tap - the 3D Touch-equipped iPhone 6s and 7 offers three. This opens up considerable potential for new interface features.

In this feature we're going to look at the most useful 3D Touch-enabled tricks, tips and new features that iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 owners can now enjoy.

3D Touch will be activated by default on your new iPhone 6s or later, but you can fiddle with a few settings or even turn it off (madness!) by going to Settings > General > Accessibility, swiping down to the unlabelled fourth group of options and tapping 3D Touch. Then adjust your sensitivity and once you're ready, turn to the next slide and we'll start exploring this new suite of features. See also: How to use 3D Touch

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Next Prev best 3d touch tricks iphone 6s 1000 01

3D Touch was without doubt the most exciting new feature of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and was a welcome addition to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus too.

It's largely the same pressure-sensitive screen technology that appears in the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Series 2 (under the name Force Touch), but whereas your watch can distinguish between two degrees of pressure - a standard tap and a harder Force Tap - the 3D Touch-equipped iPhone 6s and 7 offers three. This opens up considerable potential for new interface features.

In this feature we're going to look at the most useful 3D Touch-enabled tricks, tips and new features that iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 owners can now enjoy.

3D Touch will be activated by default on your new iPhone 6s or later, but you can fiddle with a few settings or even turn it off (madness!) by going to Settings > General > Accessibility, swiping down to the unlabelled fourth group of options and tapping 3D Touch. Then adjust your sensitivity and once you're ready, turn to the next slide and we'll start exploring this new suite of features. See also: How to use 3D Touch

 

Step 2 of 14: iOS 10's 3D Touch shortcuts

In iOS 10, there are lots of new 3D shortcuts. To summarise a few of our favourites - clockwise from top left:

At-a-glance Calendar notifications: If your lock screen contains a Calendar notification, you can 3D Touch it to see the location and full address, and accept or decline the invitation.

Priority downloads: In iOS 10 you can dictate the order in which apps are downloaded if you're installing more than one at once. Use a 3D Touch hard-press on the semi-downloaded app's icon and you'll get the option to 'Prioritize Download'. (Picture courtesy of MacRumors.)

Track your Uber driver: 3D Touch your Uber notification and you'll see the driver's progress on a map, with the option to send them a message.

Weather details: Weather gets a new shortcut from the home screen - 3D Touch to see more details about current and future weather conditions.

Read more: iOS 10 new features

 

Step 3 of 14: Phone, FaceTime, Messages

Go to your Home screen and do a harder press on the icon for the Phone app (not just a normal tap/press - firmly push into the screen). You'll see that a useful little mini-menu pops up, offering the ability to call one of your more frequently called contacts, or to create a new contact.

Do a 3D Touch press on the FaceTime or Messages app icons and you'll see similar quick-jumps to recently or frequently contacted friends - a very helpful means by which you can go straight to a call with a loved one without going into the app, searching through contacts and so on.

(If you want to edit the quick-actions that come up in the mini-menu when you do a harder press on the icon for Phone, Messages or FaceTime, incidentally, take a look at our quick tutorial: How to edit the 3D Touch shortcut menus for Phone, Messages & FaceTime.)

 

Step 4 of 14: Camera

The three main Apple communication apps (we're leaving aside Mail for the time being, but we'll come back to it in a moment) offer the most basic execution of the 3D Touch shortcut feature, but many other Apple apps have their own equivalents. The camera app's version of this may be the most useful.

It has a mini menu that lets you jump straight to a normal photo, a video or a selfie, or even a slow-mo video. You'll never miss that important shot again.

(This is particularly useful because Touch ID has been sped up so much that we rarely see the lock screen any more. In the olden days, if you wanted to take a quick photo you would swipe up on the camera icon on the lock screen and access the camera that way.)

 

Step 5 of 14: Shortcuts to jump straight into app actions

There are lots more shortcut menus to discover.

The App Store icon lets you go straight to an app search, and the iBooks app does something similar. (The iTunes Store currently doesn't offer this, oddly, but hopefully this is just a matter of time.) Mail, rather than offering shortcuts to specific contacts, lets you jump to individual inboxes (or start a new message). Safari lets you open a new tab, or a new Private tab, or jump to your Reading List.

There are more to find - try a force-press on any app icon to see if it has a 3D Touch-activated mini menu - but my favourite is probably Apple Maps, whose shortcut menu includes an option to get directions home. Google Maps presently doesn't have a 3D Touch menu, which might conceivably give Apple Maps a slight advantage for a while.

By the way, a few non-Apple apps have 3D Touch shortcuts - Twitter, Fantastical and Instagram are the obvious examples, but a few others such as the CARROT weather app have included this feature too - but most do not. We look forward to seeing what YouTube, Facebook, Google Maps and others come up with.

 

Step 6 of 14: Peek and pop to preview a document without opening it

The aspect of 3D Touch that was most extensively covered at Apple's iPhone 6s launch was a linked pair of features called Peek and Pop. These allow you to preview the contents of an email, document, web page, map direction or other link, without transferring to the app involved. You can then choose to 'Pop' the item open in its relevant app if you want to know more.

The primary example given was in Mail. If you're in the Mail app and do a firmer press on an email, a preview of the message will spring up and let you check out the email without actually opening it in full. You can then do a still firmer press to make the email 'Pop' open fully, or you can release your thumb or finger to close the preview and go back to the screen you were on previously. Alternatively, you can swipe upwards and see a menu of quick actions.

 

Step 7 of 14: Preview one app without leaving another

Peek and Pop might not seem like a huge benefit when you're working within one app, but when we start working between multiple apps you'll see the added convenience.

Take directions, for instance. If somebody sends you an address in an email, for instance, you can tap it to jump to Maps and see directions. But if you do a harder press on that address, a handy map preview will appear without whisking you out of the Mail app. You can then swipe up, press harder still to go to Maps, or release to go back. 

The same principle applies with clickable web links. If you deep-press a URL in an email, say, a preview of the web page loads and then appears, and you can see what's there before (or instead of) opening it in full Safari.

There are similar preview options for lots of first- and third-party apps on the App Store. Try force-pressing links and see what you can find.

 

Step 8 of 14: Activating cursor control on keyboard

Any time you've got the system keyboard up - in Mail, in Messages, even in third-party apps like Twitter - you can do a hard press anywhere on the keyboard and (while the individual keys grey out) you'll take control of a cursor, and can move it about pretty easily.

A simple one this, but very useful for precise text editing. (We advise you to do this with a fingertip, not a thumb. With a thumb we always find that the cursor gets a little jog out of position while we're lifting what is evidently our clumsiest digit off the screen.)

Read next: Best iOS keyboard apps

 

Step 9 of 14: Activate app switcher

Another quick tip. Do a hard-press close to the lefthand edge of the screen - you can do this from the Home screen or from a lot of apps. You'll see the screen edges of some previously used apps. Press harder still or swipe across to the right and you'll find yourself in the app switcher, from where you can easily jump to a recently open app.

Hey, it's slightly quicker than doing a double-press on the Home button.

 

Step 10 of 14: 3D Touch art & pressure-sensitive drawing

The fact that the 3D Touch screen can distinguish between different degrees of pressure is a godsend for makers of illustration and drawing apps: it unlocks the ability to create proper art.

With 3D Touch, you can draw a line across the screen and have a compatible app create a thin line if you're pressing gently and a thicker one if you're using more force: a small but fundamental step forward in touchscreen sketching. (In the past it's been possible to achieve these effects but only crudely - by using the larger area of contact when pressing harder - or by depending on a pressure-sensitive stylus bought separately.)

This feature would be even more appealing on a tablet, which is the natural form factor for digital artists, but the implementation of 3D Touch on an iPad screen seems unlikely to happen before the launch of the iPad Pro 2, if it even happens then.

The Pro offers a similar feature provided you buy the (pressure-sensitive) Apple Pencil stylus, but it doesn't have 3D Touch.

 

Step 11 of 14: Pressure-sensitive buttons in iOS games

Another one for the future, this, but 3D Touch holds the potential to turn onscreen elements into pressure-sensitive gaming controls - making games deeper without making their control systems any more complicated. This is a quantum leap forward.

The poster child for 3D Touch gaming at launch was AG Drive, which offers a pressure-sensitive accelerator button on the righthand side of the screen: press it normally to go at a normal speed, and press harder to kick into top gear. And the list pretty much stops there - you'll find a few other games that have added the words 'updated for 3D Touch' to their descriptions, but few have really grasped the potential.

Read next: Best iPhone games | Best free iPhone games

 

Step 12 of 14: Peek zoom

The partially sighted or others who find the relatively small icons and text on smartphone screens difficult to make out are likely to enjoy the zoom feature - which isn't by any means exclusive to the new iPhones but can be activated in a slightly easier way thanks to 3D Touch.

You need to have zoom switched on to use this feature. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom, and make sure Zoom (at the top) is switched to green. But we also want to switch on the onscreen controller icon, so tap 'Show Controller', slightly lower down, so that’s green too.

With zoom enabled, you can activate it at any time by doing a double-tap with three fingers. You can then move around the screen by swiping, again with three fingers. Double-tap again with three fingers to unzoom the screen.

That’s pretty awkward, right? So instead, use the controller with 3D Touch. Do a hard-press on it with a thumb, say, then move the thumb around to move around the screen.

You can also do a normal tap on the controller to open a menu of options, including variable zoom and the ability to hold the controller icon, but we find the 3D Touch technique the most convenient.

Read next: What 3D Touch could mean for accessibility

 

Step 13 of 14: Activate Live Photos

Any time you see a Live Photo (you'll generally get a hint, such as a brief animation as you swipe to the image or a 'Live' icon - or set of small concentric circles - when you go to share it), a hard-press is the way to make it animate fully. It'll blur out initially then play the three seconds of footage.

The same technique applies to dynamic wallpapers, too. Give it a firm press to see the fish (or whatever) do its thing.

Read next: How to use Live Photos

 

Step 14 of 14: Most wanted features

Despite having a large pool of apps which currently use 3D Touch, there are still some features we would like to see natively included within iOS and with certain apps:

WiFi & Bluetooth settings: We would like the ability to quickly select a WiFi network or Bluetooth device that we're connected to, by long-pressing on the WiFi and Bluetooth icons within the Control Center. 

Music - Add more options over Beats 1: Having access to the Beats 1 music station is great and so is the search functionality, but we would like a simple 'Shuffle all' option. 

Changing Wallpaper: It would be a useful feature for us to be able to change our static wallpaper straight from our home screen. This would involve long-pressing on an empty space on our home screen to change the static-wallpaper.

Apple Watch app: Having an Apple Watch is always useful to check notifications, but having the ability to quickly Unpair or Mark As Missing would be useful through the 3D Touch functionality of the app's icon.

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