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Apple's 'Force Touch' Trackpad Fools Users Into Feeling Clicks Without Actually Moving

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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At its "Spring Forward" event on Monday, Apple announced a brand-new MacBook and updated 13-inch MacBook Pros with a fully redesigned trackpad called the Force Touch trackpad.

Like on the Apple Watch, Force Touch allows the device to distinguish between a light press and a deep press, opening up new methods for interaction. For example, while a light press could be a simple click, a deep press while browsing in Safari could bring up a Wikipedia entry in a pop-up window.


The Force Touch trackpad on the MacBook and new MacBook Pros achieves this through a total reinvention of the way the trackpad works. Apple ditched the "diving board" structure of older trackpads for a new design with four sensors, called Force Sensors.

These Force Sensors allow the user to click anywhere on the Force Touch trackpad. The "diving board" design on previous trackpads made it difficult to click toward the top of the trackpad, forcing users to move their fingers toward the bottom of the trackpad to click.

The Force Sensors are bundled together with the Taptic Engine, which is also featured in the upcoming Apple Watch. The Taptic Engine senses when a user clicks on the trackpad and issues haptic feedback to let a user know that their action was successful. As noted by TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino, this is because the trackpad itself doesn't move. While the Force Touch trackpad sounds like it clicks and feels like it clicks, it doesn't actually click.
There is a set of vibrating motors underneath that provides 'force feedback', also known as haptics in some applications. This feedback fools your finger into believing that you've pressed down on a hinged button, the way your current trackpad works. This feedback relies on phenomenon called lateral force fields (LFFs), which can cause humans to experience vibrations as haptic 'textures'. This can give you the feel of a 'clickable' surface or even depth. The Force Touch feature of the new trackpad allows you to press 'deeper', giving you additional levels of tapping feedback. The effect is done so well that you actually feel like you're pressing down deeper into a trackpad that still isn't moving at all. It's so good it's eerie.
While the Force Touch trackpad was a main highlight of Apple's introduction of the new MacBook, the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro is actually the first Mac to ship with the feature. iFixit has already performed a teardown of the new MacBook Pro to get a closer look at the workings of the Force Touch trackpad after removing the machine's well-glued battery.


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Article Link: Apple's 'Force Touch' Trackpad Fools Users Into Feeling Clicks Without Actually Moving
 
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Keirasplace

macrumors 601
Aug 6, 2014
4,059
1,278
Montreal
So vibration is not movement anymore in Physics 2.0?

Your brain feels your finger moved, when it did not in a meaningful way (feeling a few mm movement, when it vibrated a fraction of a mm). Perception is manipulated, just like you can manipulate vision. I'm sure you got that mr obtuse, since you're into Physics 2.0, 3.0 and even 4.0..
 

AlecZ

macrumors 65816
Sep 11, 2014
1,173
122
Berkeley, CA
Can't wait to try it. My favorite part about Apple laptops in comparison to other laptops has since 2006 been the trackpad and keyboard quality. Everything else feels like junk.
 
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n-evo

macrumors 65816
Aug 9, 2013
1,450
1,005
Amsterdam
Can't wait for this to come to the Magic Trackpad. Hopefully a new desktop keyboard with black keys as well. Can't believe those are still white.
 

Dorje Sylas

macrumors 6502a
Jun 8, 2011
500
332
I'm more interesting in the range of 'sensation' that can be simulated, along with the future application in the next line of iOS devices.

Haptics is the true major selling point those devices (and many not-apple) are missing as a real "okay NOW its time to upgrade," for people hanging out and happy with their iPad 2's through 4's.

The other thing that will be interesting is what the % of users will be that won't/can't/feel-different the vibration feedback. Anytime you use a effect that relies on messing with human perception there is almost always a segment of population it doesn't work correctly for. And much like Apple's "hairy arm issue" with the Apple Watch sensor, it may be one they didn't exactly test for. And one we won't know yet until these machines start hitting mass market. After all, what other point does the phrase "does this feel right or at all to you" get used when it comes to "button clicks".
 

wilhelmer

macrumors member
Sep 12, 2011
82
148
a) Can you set it up to act as a regular OSX right-click (secondary click)?
b) Can you turn it off?
 

SoAnyway

macrumors 6502
May 10, 2011
476
181
Screw this..... I'll just wait until Apple releases a Mac where I don't need to use a keyboard and mouse where my only point on interaction is with my voice.

It will be just like on Star Trek where I say "Computer" and I hear a "beep beep" sound to prompt me for a command.
 

laudern

macrumors 6502a
Jan 5, 2011
865
560
I think it will be cool when you move your pointer over a click-able button and the mouse pad vibrates. Totally cool.
 

radioking

macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2012
178
35
a) Can you set it up to act as a regular OSX right-click (secondary click)?
b) Can you turn it off?

No but if you try to do a deep press with two fingers it doesn't work, it only clicks like it would on the old trackpad. You can turn the deeper presses off completely.
 
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isomorphic

macrumors regular
Apr 19, 2010
235
314
Can't wait for this to come to the Magic Trackpad. Hopefully a new desktop keyboard with black keys as well. Can't believe those are still white.

Came here to say that. Bluetooth version--instant buy!

I don't see why they can't use this tech in the Magic Mouse as well.

I have both the Apple mouse and trackpad in use on my desk. The trackpad sits where the 10-key would be if their wireless keyboard had one. Mouse to the right of the trackpad. I find that the mouse is better for precision and speed, but the trackpad is better for scrolling, browsing, and awesome due to the extra gestures.

Haptic feedback and force touch may tip the balance more in favor of the trackpad.
 

Serban

Suspended
Jan 8, 2013
5,159
926
so exactly same with more options...i like they keep two fingers for secondary click

I think in the future there will be more gestures with hard press two fingers for example...
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
1,017
105
Out of curiosity, is the pressure sensitivity detecting the sum or overall pressure on the touchpad or can it measure the pressure of each individual contact point? For example, if I put 2 fingers down with 1 finger pressing lightly and 1 finger pressing with medium force can it actually distinguish those separate inputs or does it just read that as the overall touchpad is being pressed with light + medium = high force?
 
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bbfc

macrumors 68040
Oct 22, 2011
3,185
734
Newcastle, England.
Can't wait to try it. My favorite part about Apple laptops in comparison to other laptops has since 2006 been the trackpad and keyboard quality. Everything else feels like junk.

The trackpad is my favourite feature of using a MacBook. I love it! I find it difficult using other laptops now because of it. Can't wait to try Force Touch.
 

Recognition

macrumors 6502a
Jun 27, 2013
596
671
Screw this..... I'll just wait until Apple releases a Mac where I don't need to use a keyboard and mouse where my only point on interaction is with my voice.

It will be just like on Star Trek where I say "Computer" and I hear a "beep beep" sound to prompt me for a command.

You've been able to do this in macs for years now.

Enable voice commands in the voice settings menu.
You can choose a word or button to press to make the computer listen for a command.
You can also create your own commands.

Granted it hardly works and rarely recognises a voice command, but, you can still do it. (Kinda)
 

radioking

macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2012
178
35
Out of curiosity, is the pressure sensitivity detecting the sum or overall pressure on the touchpad or can it measure the pressure of each individual contact point? For example, if I put 2 fingers down with 1 finger pressing lightly and 1 finger pressing with medium force can it actually distinguish those separate inputs or does it just read that as the overall touchpad is being pressed with light + medium = high force?

If you use 2 fingers you cannot make a deeper press, it acts just like the old trackpad.
 

Mactendo

macrumors 68000
Oct 3, 2012
1,967
2,044
"It's so good it's eerie"

Thank Gods Jony Ive didn't yet ruin the hardware department.
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
1,017
105
If you use 2 fingers you cannot make a deeper press, it acts just like the old trackpad.
So I guess the pressure sensitivity is not multi-touch then. If it was that would open up a whole bunch of multi-touch force click combinations for use as shortcuts although I suppose learning and remembering them would be problematic.
 

radioking

macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2012
178
35
So I guess the pressure sensitivity is not multi-touch then. If it was that would open up a whole bunch of multi-touch force click combinations for use as shortcuts although I suppose learning and remembering them would be problematic.

You can do a deeper press with 3 or 4 fingers but it does the same thing as 1 finger.
 
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