Apple this week launched the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. One of the headline features introduced on these is 3D Touch, a slight variation on the Force Touch seen on the Apple Watch and newest MacBooks and heralded by Apple as “the next generation of multi‑touch”.
Wired offers a good explanation of 3D Touch which we will share here so as to avoid the need to reinvent the wheel:
3D Touch basically enables the phone to measure not just when you move your finger up and down, left and right, but now also through. When you press a little harder, you get what’s called “Peek”—a pop-up of the contents of an email, or the status of a flight, or a quick way to call the business you’re tapping on in Maps. Press more, and you “Pop.” That’s when you jump to a new place in the operating system. You can press on icons on the homescreen, too, and jump straight to the selfie cam or call your mom without ever actually opening the Phone app.
It was perhaps not surprising that the introduction of a completely new form of interaction sparked some discussion and concern amongst VoiceOver users. As with accessibility support on the new Apple TV, VoiceOver users need not have worried; we are pleased to report that Apple has confirmed to us that the 3D Touch features on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will be accessible to blind and low vision users.
With VoiceOver enabled, one can use the Peek and Pop features to access the aditional menu items or quick actions and flick through them using traditional flick gestures.
This is great, albeit not surprising, news. Yet again, it demonstrates how accessibility sits at the core of Apple's DNA.
It will be interesting to see if Apple has not simply made this 3D Touch accessible to those of us who rely on VoiceOver, but whether they have found ways in which it can be used to further enhance the iOS experience for blind and low vision users. If you have ideas of how this might be possible, we would love to hear them in the comments.
The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are available for preorder now and will ship from September 25.