Apple has made Quick Actions available for pretty much all devices in iOS 13 and iPadOS with a long press.
That’s a major boon for users, since it brings convenient capabilities like Quick Actions and Peek to a wider range of devices. But the move has some major implications for 3D Touch — including the very future of the feature.
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Here’s what you should know about Quick Actions in iOS 13 and iPadOS
What’s the difference?
If you own a 3D Touch-enabled device, you’re probably already familiar with Quick Actions. It’s the contextual menu that shows up when you firmly press on an app, a folder or another UI element.
A long press, on the other hand, is just what it sounds like. You just press and hold on an icon until something happens. For most of iOS’s history, this has resulted in the “wiggle” mode on the Home screen.
The major difference between the two is that a long press results from the amount of time you hold down an app, while a firm press takes a specific amount of pressure.
So what’s changed? Well, in iOS 13 and iPadOS, any device can access the Quick Actions menu and the Peek option with just a long press.
With the new change, there doesn’t appear to be any pressure-sensing going on in the background. You won’t be able to “press deeper” to differentiate between a firm press and a long press.
That means that certain 3D Touch-related features are inaccessible, but it also means that others — like Quick Actions and Peek — are now available on any device that can run iOS 13 or iPadOS.
Is this the same as Haptic Touch?
Essentially, there is zero difference between the iPhone XR’s Haptic Touch and the new long press action available on any iPhone.
Haptic Touch is just a fancy marketing term for a long press combined with a bit of haptic feedback from Apple’s Taptic Engine. There isn’t any pressure sensing going on, and the feature doesn’t actually make use of 3D Touch at all.
Because of that, it isn’t clear whether or not Apple will be able to retroactively add haptic feedback to devices without 3D Touch or Haptic Touch. On the devices we tested, the quick actions don’t appear to make any use of the Taptic Engine.
How to use Quick Actions and Peek
You can try it out yourself, as long as you have an iPhone or iPad that can run iOS 13 or the very version of iPadOS. As we mentioned, you don’t need a 3D Touch iPhone to access these features.
- Quick Actions: You can now press and hold on an app icon to perform a variety of Quick Actions associated with that app — just like with 3D Touch. That could include opening a new Private Tab in Safari or quickly getting to frequent contacts in Messages.
- Quick Actions for Folders: If you press and hold on an app folder, you’ll see a list of all of the apps that have pending notifications.
- Peek: One of the most convenient options in 3D Touch is the ability to Peek. In iOS 13 and iPadOS, you can now press and hold on various UI elements to “peek” into messages, web links or emails.
- But where’s Pop?: Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Pop is a part of Haptic Touch or the new long press functionality. At least, not yet.
- Rearranging apps: At this point, rearranging apps on your Home screen is a little finicky. That’s because pressing for too short a period doesn’t do much, but pressing for too long activates “wiggle” mode. The “sweet spot” appears to be about a one-second “hold and release” on a Home screen app.
- A better rearranging app option. At this point, it seems like Apple may rectify that by adding a new Rearrange apps button to the Quick Actions menu on the Home screen. The button is now available in the latest betas.
Quick Actions on iPadOS
It’s worth noting that all of these features are also accessible using an Apple Pencil on an iPad. So if you use the Apple stylus for navigation, you’ll be able to bring up the Quick Actions menu and “Peek” at notifications using it.
What about iPhones that already support 3D Touch or Haptic Touch?
At this point, you probably have noticed that Quick Actions pretty much replaces the capabilities of 3D Touch. By all accounts, it looks like 3D Touch is on its way out.
The iPhone XR, for example, had Haptic Touch instead of 3D Touch (which, as we’ve covered, is just a long press with some haptic feedback). More than that, this year’s iPhone lineup is largely expected to axe 3D Touch entirely. It’s likely that it’ll be replaced by Haptic Touch.
Why is Apple doing this? It isn’t clear. But while 3D Touch is well-loved by some users, it certain’t isn’t a widely popular feature. Many users don’t even know about it, or they just discover it accidentally. Nixing 3D Touch going forward could also make iPhones cheaper, since they won’t need a pressure-sensitive display layer.
It isn’t clear what will happen not devices that already support 3D Touch. In the iOS 13 betas, it appears that 3D Touch was removed and then re-introduced in various beta builds. It’s currently available in the latest beta.
That suggests that support for 3D Touch is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. But Apple’s upcoming slate of iPhones won’t use the feature — meaning that it’ll likely be deprecated as time goes on.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.