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Inside Force Touch: Apple's new 'force click' action opens up new possibilities for the Mac

The new Force Touch trackpad found on the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro and upcoming 12-inch MacBook features an entirely new method of input, activated by applying additional pressure to the trackpad. AppleInsider offers a closer look at how force click works, and what new possibilities it opens up for OS X.




Force Touch represents the most significant change for Apple's much-lauded trackpad since the debut of Multi-Touch. More than just simple haptic feedback, Force Touch includes pressure-sensitive input that allows entirely new ways of interacting with a Mac.

This includes a new input method Apple has dubbed the "force click" action. Users invoke force click by pressing to click, then continuing to press even harder for a second haptic click felt on their fingertips.



While Force Touch and force click are difficult to describe without actually feeling it yourself, the above video demonstrates some of the functions capable when pressing down harder on the Trackpad.

On a new MacBook Pro with the Force Touch Trackpad, users can sample some of these new features in the latest version of OS X Yosemite. In many cases, the new force click feature is simply a quicker way to enact commands that used to take multiple steps.

For example, users can quickly bring up the Quick Look view in OS X by pressing hard enough to activate a force click. This allows users to look up the definition of any word, or preview a link in Safari without opening it.



In a neat visual cue, the Quick Look view will slowly begin to grow as a user presses harder. Users can vary the strength of their finger press to make the Quick Look view shrink or grow, and pressing with enough force causes the force click input to activate and the Quick Look view to fully appear.

Strength of force also plays a factor in QuickTime, where Apple allows users to vary fast forward and rewind controls based on how hard they press the trackpad. Rather than force click, which provides haptic feedback in the form of a "deeper" click, Apple has dubbed this haptic-less variable input method "Accelerators."

It's largely the same in OS X Maps, where pressing the zoom buttons in the bottom right also allow users to control zoom at various speeds based on how hard they press. The haptic force click also allows users to quickly add a pin to a location on the map.




There are other small shortcuts for force click sprinkled throughout OS X: In Messages, force click allows users to bring up options and media history for a specific conversation, while in Finder, force clicking a file name quickly gives users the ability to rename it.

And because the force click action and associated haptic feedback are software-driven, Apple also disables the use of it in some cases, depending on where the cursor is located on the screen.

For example, when clicking the menu bar in OS X, there is no force click haptic feedback for a harder Touchpad press.

Force click functions are currently limited to the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro models, as Apple did not include the Force Touch Trackpad on the newly updated MacBook Air lineup. It will also be a part of the all-new 12-inch MacBook set to launch this month.