Pretty much since Apple revealed the 3D Touch pressure-sensitive display for the iPhone 6s series, there have been rumours going round that rival Android OEMs are working on similar tech and hand-in-hand with this was the suggestion that support for this feature will be baked-in to Google’s next Android build; Android N. Now though, Google itself has confirmed this to be the case, the firm spoke to The Verge in response to an inquiry about the rumoured feature, stating that it was being added to Android N after being requested by many Android OEMs who wish to add it to their devices.
To recap, a pressure-sensitive display, like Apple’s 3D Touch, allow for a device which can distinguish between a soft tap or a hard push on the screen via the display’s built-in hardware technology. The software can then be configured to allow different commands or features to be activated depending on what kind of input is detected; for example, a tap on an app shortcut would activate the application as normal, but a hard press might bring up a contextual menu, allowing you to say go to the last track played in a music app, for instance.
Essentially, Google building it into the software means OEMs won’t have to go to the effort of developing it themselves, instead they can focus largely on adding compatible screen hardware tech to new handsets. To date, Huawei is the only manufacturer who has already gone ahead and built its own version. The other plus point is that the feature being built-in will allow third-party app developers to create new content based around it.
What’s ever-so-slightly-annoying about this new feature is that current Android flagships — the Galaxy S7, HTC 10, LG G5 — will not benefit from it; unless, of course, the feature has already been latently built in and it just needs activating. This isn’t very likely, though, as the phone would have to have been built with Android N in mind and we’re pretty sure no Android OEMs operate with this level of foresight.
This means those looking to get onboard with this feature will likely have to wait for the next round of Android flagships. Whether this is Q1 2017 or later on inside phones like the new Nexus lineup and Galaxy Note 6 remains to be seen, however.
The newest version of Google’s Android N Developer Preview has a limited version of this feature already, although at present it isn’t bound purely to pressure input; the “setDynamicShortcuts(List)” feature allows a developer to configure various inputs (for example, a swipe up or down will do the trick in place of pressure control) to bring up a list of different functions and commands you can then issue.
Phandroid has this rather cool little video preview of what you can expect from pressure-sensitive input on Android N: