- Apr 12, 2001
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.
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.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.
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Article Link: Apple's 'Force Touch' Trackpad Fools Users Into Feeling Clicks Without Actually Moving