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This 3D Touch-style tech could mean Android phones will get pressure-sensitive screens

synaptics  d touch for android apple iphone
Jeffrey Van Camp/Digital Trends

Apple has popularized the use of variable pressure touch on a touchscreen smartphone with the iPhone 6S, and although Huawei has demonstrated something similar with the Mate S recently, Android fans aren’t able to enjoy the same tech at the moment. However, the announcement of ClearForce by interface experts Synaptics may change that.

ClearForce works similar to 3D Touch (known as Force Touch on the Apple Watch, at first) on the iPhone, it can sense different levels of pressure when touching the screen, and the phone can be programmed to react in different ways depending on the degree of force. Synaptics claims ClearForce will offer different interfaces for speed scrolling, zoom, gaming, and text or photo editing. The technology works with a finger or stylus, making it suitable for use on both smartphones and tablets.

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On the iPhone, 3D Touch is used primarily as a pseudo right-click, letting the user open contextual menus and more control on mobile games. We suspect it’ll be used in a similar way on Android, though Google may need to approve the technology. Art is another area where ClearForce could provide deeper functionality, where varying pressure may affect the thickness of a drawn line. Apple demonstrated something like this with the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro.

Huawei’s pressure sensitive system on the Mate S was little more than a gimmick when we tried it out recently, but the company has calling for developers and even fans to submit ideas on how to use the tech in other ways, proving it intends to exploit the system further. Whether it’s Synaptics behind Huawei’s screen tech isn’t known.

Synaptics says it’s working with various manufacturers to bring ClearForce-enabled smartphones to the market by early 2016. They didn’t provide any names, but the technology crosses paths with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 launch, meaning we could see a few premium phones with both technologies inside.