Force Touch (Mate S)_1

Force Touch Screens Won’t Gather Momentum Yet

January 22, 2016 - Written By David Steele

Hardware and software developers have been working towards making the ubitious touchscreen display more useful since it was first introduced. One way that a touchscreen can be more useful is to allow the hardware to not only know where the user is touching the screen, but with how much force. This could be used to give the hardware a third dimension when assessing what the user is doing and means the interface could behave differently depending on how it is being handled. Apple’s use of “force touch” in their products is hardly revolutionary, as we have seen the technology used for some years now (and the Samsung Galaxy Note series of devices has been able to detect the pressure placed on the screen from the S Pen for some time, although the technology used here is somewhat different). Huawei introduced the Mate S line of devices, which includes force touch display technology: features that the Mate S has include the ability to weigh objects using the screen and changing the zoom of an image in the gallery depending on how hard one is pushing on the screen.

However, these are features Huawei, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, has engineered and incorporated into their Android builds. At the current time, Google’s Android does not fully support the technology. Because of this, and according to undisclosed Taiwan businesses speaking to the source newspaper, the industry does not expect any major increases in force touch screen sales to Chinese Android manufacturers during the first half of the year. However, things are expected to pick up in the second half of the year.

Now; this is Android, where unsupported features may be engineered into the code by developers, right? Yes absolutely, but many Chinese companies are using a similar build of Android, which has a small number of additions to the core software but it does not yet have integrated force touch display technology. It would be expensive to engineer force touch technology into Android, especially when Google is likely to include the technology in due course. Another factor is how demand for smartphones in China is weaker than expected, which of course means that the cost in developing and testing the necessary drivers and software for Android will be spread over a smaller number of devices. As and when Google incorporate the technolgoy into Android, so the logic follows that we will see an increase in force touch display panels. However, Digitimes’ sources do not believe we will see a significant rise in the use of force touch dislay devices being sold into the Chinese market until 2017.