What is 3D Touch, Anyway?
3D Touch is arguably one of the biggest features of the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus models. Before we get in to specifics about how it works with VoiceOver, I thought it would be helpful to go directly to Apple's 3D Touch webpage to get an overview of exactly what 3D Touch is:
iPhone 6s introduces an entirely new way to interact with your phone. For the frst time, iPhone senses how much pressure you apply to the display. In addition to familiar Multi‑Touch gestures like Tap, Swipe, and Pinch, 3D Touch introduces Peek and Pop. This brings a new dimension of functionality to the iPhone experience. And when you use 3D Touch, your iPhone responds with subtle taps. So not only will you see what a press can do — you’ll feel it. Continuing in what has now become conventional fashion for Apple, 3D touch is usable for VoiceOver users. There are actually 2 ways to utilize both the Quick Action and the Peek and Pop features, each of which will be discussed below.
What are Quick Actions, anyway?
The Quick Action option allows you to launch context menus for apps that support the feature. It's very similar to what happens when you press the Applications key on Windows for VO-Shift-M on a Mac. You are given specific menu options for the app or program your screen reader has focus set to. For visual users, it's equivalent to right-clicking. Just like when you use this keyboard command on other platforms, you're not launched in to the program, but are presented with a list of actions which you can choose from. Tgese context menus are what Apple is referring to as Quick Action on iOS. If you activate any of these options, in this case by double tapping on the one you desire, you will be put in that app or program with the action you chose already carried out. As far as I know, Quick Action menus are only available on the Home Screen. Also, only apps where the developer has chosen to utilize this feature will Quick Actions menus or the Peek and Pop feature we will discuss later be available.
Does 3D Touch Change any of the Gestures I Already Know?
The short answer is, "No." Open or activate items by double-tapping, flick left and right to get around the screen, etc. If you are someone who is heavy-handed with their touchscreen, you can adjust the sensitivity of 3D Touch gestures by going to Settings>Accessibility>3D Touch, and either turning it off or setting the sensitivity level to "firm." On the other hand, if you're finding that you need to press too hard or are otherwise having trouble activating 3D Touch, you can adjust the setting to "light." If you're not sure which setting will work best for you, on that same settings screen, you will also find a button to test the sensitivity level to see if it fits what you would be comfortable with.
Using Quick Actions With VoiceOver
As mentioned above, there are 2 different ways in which you can use 3D touch. One way is to slide your finger around the touchscreen until you find the app you would like to perform a 3d Touch action on. Once you find that app, leave your finger on it and press firmly on the touchscreen. The Haptic Engine will click one time to alert you that you have launched a Quick Actions menu; if no Quick Actions menu is available, you will feel 2 clicks and will remain on your Home Screen with that app still in focus. If you get the single click, most times, you will be at the end of the menu that you just launched; flick left from the end of the menu to find out what actions are available. For example, in Tweetings (a Twitter client), you can send a Direct Message, or send a new tweet. In the Quick Actions menu, double-tapping will launch Twetings and place you in the edit field to type either a Direct Message or tweet depending on which option you chose. Performing a 3d Touch on the Phone application gives you the menu options of creating a new contact, or contacting your favorites. Again, double-tapping the selected action will give the phone the green light to fulfill your request. TO exit a Quick Actions menu without carrying out any action, do a 2 finger scrub on the touch screen, press Escape on a bluetooth keyboard, or press space with B on a raille display.
I'm a Flicker, Not a Poker, What About Me?
You're in luck as well! If you tend to flick around the screen, this is also fine, but you will need to utilize a different gesture to enjoy the Quick Actions feature. First, flick to the app you wish to perform the 3d Touch on, and then double tap and press down. You will then be presented with the same Quick Actions menu you get when using the first method I described. Bluetooht keyboard users can also press VO Shift F to perform a 3d Touch, but unfortunately, there seems to not be a braille keyboard equivalent at this time. Again, to activate an item in the menu, double-tap it. If you are struggling to use Force Touch and keep entering Screen Edit Mode by accident, you can Adjust the sensitivity required to activate this feature. Head on over to Settings>Accessibility>3D Touch, and set the sensitivity level to "firm" or turn 3D Touch off entirely.
Peek and pop
Building on earlier sections of this guide, we'll now take a look at Peek and Pop. Peek and Pop allows you to "peek" at an item, and then dismiss it just as quickly. You can also "pop" in to it, which is the fancy way of saying that you are opening it as you always have. The best way to explain how Peek and Pop works would probably be by example. Let’s say you're in the Mail application in a list of messages. You can, of course, double tap to open the message, or you can touch and then press which will then give you the content of the message itself. The HapticEngine confirms you've activated this feature with a single tap being felt on the finger, just like with Force Touch. You can move around the message while still holding down your finger by moving it downward. Once you lift your finger, you are returned to the Inbox. There are also actions available with the Peek function, which you can activate by sliding your finger to the bottom right of the screen. VoiceOver will say, "preview, actions available." Once this happens, you will have a list of rotor actions to choose from. Double-tap the one you want, and it magically does as requested. Where you can "Peek," you can also "Pop." To "Pop," while holding down your finger still, press a bit harder. The Haptic Engine in the phone will confirm that you have now "popped" in to the message. Another way to do this is to slide your finger in to the "preview" part of the screen, and then double-tap.
Can I Flick and Peek Too?
Yes you can. Continuing with our Mail example, (note the spelling so that you know I'm not being sexist), find the message you wish to Peek in to. Double-tap and push on this message, and you will feel the Haptic Engine click under your finger--notifying you that you are now checking out the selected message. While not everything in this screen can be flicked to, you can find the message on the left and center of the screen and use your standard VoiceOver gestures to read the message. TO get to the "preview" area, tap the lower right side of your screen. You will then find the actions rotor available as described above. To exit the preview area and return to your inbox, do a two-finger scrub.