Pixel Long Press Menu HeroSource: Chris Wedel/Android Central

What you need to know

  • Google is using software to emulate pressure-sensitive hardware.
  • The idea of this is so that what is typically a long-press menu will show up faster if your press harder.
  • Currently, this feature works for only a small number of apps, but plans for more app support will come in the near future.

It seems that Google is introducing a former hardware feature iPhone to Pixel phones via the March 2020 software update. Pixel users will be getting a 3D Touch like option for accessing quick menus rather the using the current long-press option.

The Verge was able to get a response from Google as to why it's moving to hard-press instead of long-press:

Long Press currently works in a select set of apps and system user interfaces such as the app Launcher, Photos, and Drive. This update accelerates the press to bring up more options faster. We also plan to expand its applications to more first party apps in the near future.

When Apple introduced 3D Touch on the iPhone, it was done using hardware to detect pressure and how hard you were pressing. Various levels of pressure would then enact different menus or options for an app. Google has offered a version of this, but it has been done via press duration. Now, it seems, Google is doing what it do best and using software to achieve similar pressure results.

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Using existing hardware and machine learning algorithms, the capacitive sensors on the display can determine if you are pressing lightly or more firmly because more of your fingertip is registered. So if you lightly tap the screen to launch an app, only a small amount of your finger touches. However, if you press harder and really smush your finger onto the display, more of your fingertip is registered on the sensors.

So, what do you think of this change to long-press actions? Are you ready to smush you Pixel?

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