Apple touted 3D Touch on its iPhones as revolutionary, but it soon turned out to be an over-engineered feature that felt redundant when a solution as simple as long-press already existed. While the iPhone maker already began phasing it out a couple of years back with the XR, Google is now bringing the feature to its Android OS. Unlike Apple, Google was able to add firm presses using just its software magic without the need for a pressure-sensitive hardware layer.
What’s impressive here is that Google has devised a way to identify when you hard-press on a normal touch screen using its machine learning might. The algorithm measures how much of your finger’s surface is touching the capacitive sensors within a fraction of second to take the relevant action. According to a statement Google gave to The Verge, these firm presses won’t invoke any new menu options or functionalities but are meant to just speed up long presses.
The feature will work only with a handful of apps initially—Pixel Launcher, Google Photos, Google Drive—with more expected to follow soon. However, the question of its accuracy and consistency remains. The firm presses worked as advertised for a Redditor, but our experience wasn’t as frictionless. For one, you have to press your thumb a bit harder for the touch to be registered as a firm press, which isn’t particularly intuitive. It’d basically be a hit or miss for the most part. Plus, it isn’t like you’ll save a whole lot of time by going for a firm press over a long one.
You shouldn’t count on Google or app developers to expand the feature’s purview to do anything other than what long presses already do. This is a stated requirement for the apps leveraging the Deep Press API to possibly maintain feature parity across devices. Firm presses began rolling out to Pixel 4 units as part of the latest feature drop this Monday and will take some time to appear for all. It isn’t clear when the feature will hit older Pixels, or if it'll come at all.