Every year, Apple comes out with a new iPhone. Some years, it's a huge update, and the phone gets a new number—like the iPhone 4, 5, or 6. In other years, an "S" gets attached to the name, and the updates are more discreet and internal—like better cameras, faster processors, or other headlining new feature.
For the iPhone 4s, it was Siri. For the 5s, it was Touch ID. Now, for the 6s, we have 3D Touch, which is an entirely new way to interact with your phone... or so Apple says, anyway.
According to Jony Ive, Apple's design chief, 3D touch "is something we've been working on for a long time—multi, multi, multi years."
Apple has had multitouch for years—the ability for the phone to recognize the touch of multiple fingers, including gestures like pinching and dragging. That's 2D plus tap: up and down, and then a press to select things.
3D Touch adds a third dimension, reacting differently depending on how hard you press into the glass. Developers won't get their hands on 3D Touch for a while, but Apple made it clear in its most recent keynote that the feature is meant to bring some context and speed to navigating apps.
Using two new gestures called "Peek" and "Pop," you can press hard on an email message in Mail and get a quick look at the contents. Press harder and it can open up entirely, or let go to make it disappear.
Press on apps on the home screen, and you get a menu of features that can save time. Press on the Camera app to take a quick selfie. Press on the phone to get a list of favorite contacts to call.
If you're an iPhone power user, it will surely speed up your workflow and help you get in and out of apps more quickly. But for the first time with the iPhone, I'm not sure if 3D Touch is enough to make me upgrade to the new model (which I usually do every year). Unlike Siri and Touch ID, 3D Touch seems useful but not a must-have feature.
The other new features of the 6s and 6s Plus are mostly invisible, such as a faster processor, a much improved camera (4K video and a clever new Harry Potter-esque feature that turns pictures into short moving videos), and a new aluminum alloy that's said to be stronger and more durable. Oh, and it's available in Rose Gold now.
This is the first iPhone model that I haven't immediately gone "Oh my, I must have that" when it was introduced. What might sway me, though, is this lengthy article in Bloomberg Businessweek that's timed with the launch of the new iPhone. In it, Apple executives mention how difficult it was to create 3D Touch and how it can revolutionize the smartphone interface, just like multitouch did nearly a decade ago.
Perhaps, if it's good enough for Apple, it's good enough for me too. Who am I kidding? Of course, I'm gonna buy it!
Are you interested in the iPhone 6s? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.