Apple previously used a feature known as 3D Touch, which debuted with the iPhone 6S lineup in late 2015. This feature enabled pressure-sensitive functions, such as holding a button down lightly for a quick peek at the contents of a window without fully committing to opening a window and entering the app. Haptic Touch, which activates after a certain amount of time rather than a certain amount of pressure applies to a button, replaced 3D Touch in Apple’s iPhone 11 lineup and beyond. Though it does not support different pressure levels, it can perform most of the same functions.
If the app supports Haptic Touch, you can long-press an app icon until your iPhone confirms your press with a quick vibration and a newly opened drop-down menu with several options. In some ways, Haptic Touch may be slower or less versatile than 3D Touch, but aside from any functionality lost due to the loss of pressure-sensitive peeking and popping, it’s arguably not that different. Both features rely on haptic feedback to communicate whether you’ve successfully hard-pressed or long-pressed any given button and use Apple’s Taptic Engines. Calling the new feature Haptic Touch was most likely a marketing ploy rather than a genuine first-time initiative to give your iPhone 11, 12, and 13 haptic feedback.
How to use Haptic Touch?
In theory, Haptic Touch allows you to do things faster than you would normally be able to. If an app is supported, you can hold down its icon to generate a menu that will take you directly to a specific window within the app, for example. Previously, you had to press your finger quite hard into specific app icons to get the desired result with 3D Touch; now, all you have to do is hold your finger on an icon until the app activates or displays a window with options to choose from.
On any Haptic Touch-enabled iPhone, the torch and camera icons on the lock screen, for example, now open with a long press rather than a hard press. Hold down the space bar on the keyboard until it transforms into a track pad, allowing you to scroll back and forth through any text you’re currently typing.
Go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Touch -> 3D & Haptic Touch to change the amount of time you have to press your down before Haptic Touch kicks in. In the “Touch Duration” section, you can switch between Fast and Slow.
Haptic Touch shortcuts
Apps that support Haptic Touch have steadily grown in number, but there are a few actions that may be useful for any iPhone 11, 12, or 13 user who wants to make the most of the Haptic Touch feature (via Pocket Lint). For example, you can quickly send a text to anyone you’ve recently texted by holding down the Texts app icon. Instead of navigating to that function within the Calendar app, holding the Calendar icon brings up a prompt to create a new event.
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Holding down the Phone icon allows you to view your most recent call, check your most recent voicemail, or create a new contact right away. Likewise, the Photos app shortcuts menu can direct you to your favorite photos or the search function. This is how Haptic Touch works in general, and more apps are likely to add useful and relevant shortcuts like these as the feature becomes more popular, such as with the release of the iPhone 14.