iPhone SE and 3D Touch

As I write this rumors are running rampant about the up coming iPhone SE, a new small iPhone with a 4” screen. Pundits are guessing what features will and won’t be included in the next small iPhone. These pundits seem to have reached consensus that Apple will exclude 3D Touch from this new phone. I disagree.

Supporting 3D Touch requires developers invest extra effort to make their apps respond to the Peek and Pop gestures introduced with 3D Touch. When the hardware and operating system tell an app a 3D Touch action occurs, the app will only respond if the developer wrote appropriate code.

From a developer perspective I like supporting new technologies like 3D Touch. From a business perspective I like engaging in profitable activities. Sometimes there is a conflict between these two perspectives. From the business perspective I like investment in supporting new phone features, because I think I’ll delight my customers which should lead to profits. A new technology like 3D Touch can’t be in all phones, because it requires new hardware, but I expect this technology to eventually be in all phones Apple sells. Yet if Apple signals that a technology will not eventually be in all their products, they are telling me that effort towards supporting that technology will only potentially please a subset of my customers. Being able to please only a subset of my customers pushes the priority of supporting a phone feature further down my list of improvements to make to my apps.

By failing to include 3D Touch in any new iPhone Apple signals that 3D Touch is not a feature they plan on supporting in all their phones. I then will have greater difficulty supporting the technology from the business perspective. Making this a feature in only part of their phone product line means that I as a developer need to write code that gives full utility of my apps without 3D Touch. This means the full utility will be in my apps even on phones that have 3D Touch. So why expend the effort to support 3D Touch?

Apple wants 3D Touch to succeed. Apple is full of smart enough people to think through this line of thought. Apple sees that the cost of not including 3D Touch is much higher overall than skipping it on this one model.

We’ll know in a few weeks, and I’ll post an update once I’m proven right or wrong.


Well, I was wrong. The iPhone SE does not include 3D Touch. Yet the iPhone SE is outselling Apple’s expectations. Now it’s a longer waiting game. Let’s see what happens at WWDC 2017, and how much Apple talks about 3D Touch. I’ll check back again later and see if 3D Touch is thriving.