Friday, March 13, 2015

Apple's 'Taptic Engine' and 'Force Touch

Apple’s MacBook – `Force Touch/Taptic Engine’

Apple has recently unveiled a new MacBook with `Force Touch’ track-pad and `Taptic Engine’. The updated track-pad features Force Touch pressure sensitive with Taptic Engine for vibration/haptic feedback. Repair experts from iFexit who had taken the new computer apart, found the close-up it provided on the new track-pad’s design, quite interesting.

Rumours are also circulating that they would also be making their way to the latest iPhone. Apple’s 13 inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display has come up with some updates together with the big Apple Watch and the new MacBook announcement. The details of the latest track-pad were partly disclosed on stage wherein Apple showed the part as a key feature in its new MacBook design video as well as the presentation.

In the case of the 13 inch Retina MBP, it is slightly different due to the fact that there is space to support a physical button style track-pad, similar to the one that ships in all other prevailing Mac laptops though it has the same combination of sound as well as haptics producing 100% accurate illusion of physical click when there is no actual click.

Track-Pad Controlled Through software

Matthew Panzarino had explained in his post that the new track-pad design does not actually move or tends to move on a microscopic sale but it feels like the existing clicky design though with a user-customizable amount of clickiness which is controlled through software.

iFixit’s ripping down of the computer indicated that the track-pad is supported by four spring mounts together with a panel on the underside which is not present on the latest version of MacBook though it does have the same Force Touch engine that is a series of wire coil covered around a ferromagnetic core, creating the vibrations which the finder translates as clicks.

iFexitpresumes that to vary the strength, Apple would selectively activate some or all four of the ferromagnetic cores inside the track-pad’s taptic engine and also notes that keeping in mind Apple’s assurance of no real movement going on here, the construction has no linear oscillators in the mechanism, similar to the traditional vibration feedback found on phone which is generally used. The updated sensors has the capabilities of detecting more than one kind of click wherein a light click could perform a single action while a harder click another and the threshold of how hard is a `hard’, the press could be adapted.

Touchpads – New User Interface Functions

To speed up the fast forward of video, one could press harder or `force click’ in order to pull up a definition of certain word. The force gestures are an addition to the standard multi-touch track-pad taps and swipes as well as intuitive which bodes well and according to Wall Street Journal, Apple is trying to integrate the force sensing in its iPhone and iPad next year after the introduction of the technology in its company’s smartwatch.

With regards to detection of pressure, iFixit presumes that they probably come through very small strain gauges which are mounted on flexible metal supports which read how much flex is experienced, translating the same into a read on how much pressure is applied. Before touchpads had emerged, individuals using the laptops had been using tiny joysticks which were serviceable after much practice and the first touchpads were great though they had to use separate mouse buttons since they could not register clicks.

Apple’s latest entry is an attempt to make touchpads less awkward and while laptops can register taps as well as detect multiple fingers at once, they have learned to measure how hard you press enabling some new user interface functions.

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