Apple has elected to drop support for Force Touch in watchOS 7, suggesting that the Apple Watch Series 6 will not include the firm-press gesture from the outset.
Force Touch can be used in watchOS 6 to reveal hidden menus on Apple Watch, such as options to clear notifications and customize the current Watch Face. These options will no longer be accessed using the Force Touch gesture when watchOS 7 is released. Apple’s new Human Interface Guidelines for developers making apps for watchOS 7 confirms the change:
Firm press and long press. In versions of watchOS before watchOS 7, people could press firmly on the display to do things like change the watch face or reveal a hidden menu called a Force Touch menu. In watchOS 7 and later, system apps make previously hidden menu items accessible in a related screen or a settings screen. If you formerly supported a long-press gesture to open a hidden menu, consider relocating the menu items elsewhere.
Several native apps in the watchOS 7 beta already reflect the gesture’s removal. For example, the Force Touch gesture for the app layout Grid/List View has been replaced by a menu option in the Settings app. Similarly, changing the Calendar view must now be done in Settings, while the gesture to Change Move Goal in the Activity app has become just another menu item. The Customize Watch Face menu is now accessed via a long press.
In 2018, Apple did something similar when the iPhone XR was introduced with a Haptic Touch feature that replaced 3D Touch. While Haptic Touch is a feedback mechanism, 3D Touch offered genuine input options like Peek and Pop. This change has since expanded to the entire iPhone lineup, which has allowed Apple to remove the capacitive layer integrated into the iPhone display.
Apple’s reasoning behind the removal of the gesture on Apple Watch isn’t clear, but it could be that not enough users were aware of it for it to be genuinely useful, or perhaps it decided that some of the functions it offered were replicated elsewhere and therefore redundant.
With no need for a Force Touch layer in future Apple Watch models, Apple could conceivably use the extra space to include a larger battery, but that’s pure speculation at this point. We won’t know until the Apple Watch Series 6 makes its debut in the fall. Will you miss Force Touch or was it something you didn’t use? Let us know in the comments.