Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

This Week's Sponsor

Unite 5 - Turn Web Apps into Supercharged macOS apps

By Jason Snell

Early days yet

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

iOS 9 has been out for a little less than a month. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, a little more than a week. That means that two of the most exciting additions to iOS are now available to anyone who has compatible devices! For 3D Touch, you’ll need the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus; for Split View you’ll need an iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 4.

This is great. Both of these features have the potential to change how I use both my iPhone and my iPad. I’ve got an iPad Air 2 and an iPhone 6S. I’m ready for the revolution! Any time now…

It’s been months since WWDC, when Apple formally announced iOS 9 and rolled out the details of Slide Over and Split View. And on day one of iOS 9’s release, apps that support these new multitasking features began to appear. I’ve got a bunch on my iPad Air 2, and I use them—when I remember to.

But what I’ve found in the past few weeks is that I still haven’t internalized the existence of Slide Over and Split View. I’ve got a device that supports it—in fact, a device I bought specifically because it could support it. But I’ve yet to fall into a pattern of setting up apps left and right, or even setting one app as my go-to Slide Over buddy. It just hasn’t happened.

I expect it will, and I’m willing to say that this one’s on me. Obviously I am so set in my ways as an iPad user that I’m struggling to break out of the one-app-at-a-time paradigm. Life would probably be a lot better if Twitterrific or Slack were hanging out in Slide Over all the time. I just need to get with the program.

Then there’s the iPhone 6S, and 3D Touch. I like the feature a lot—it’s been well implemented by Apple, especially how it almost never triggers without me intending to trigger it. Unfortunately, by keeping this feature a secret, Apple has given developers very little time to integrate it into their products. As a result, I find myself endlessly pushing on app icons1 and interface elements in the vain hope that app updates will support 3D Touch. And I’m usually disappointed.

Slowly, apps I use are being updated to support 3D Touch. In the early going, it’s mostly additions to the Quick Actions menu on the launch screen. Some apps, such as Workflow or Launch Center Pro, are a great fit with this feature. Other apps (I’m not naming names) seem to struggle with Quick Actions, providing minimal or useless options. And a few apps that are crying out for Quick Actions—Slack, please let me jump to a specific Slack account from a Quick Action—just don’t have them yet.

Implementing deeper 3D Touch integration in apps seems like it’s going to take even more time. What I really want from Twitterrific is the ability to “peek” into a user’s account or included attached images. I’m sure that will happen in time, but even the most actively updated applications can’t add this stuff immediately—after all, app developers only learned about 3D Touch when we did, back on September 9.

So, iOS 9 scorecard. I’m not using Split View and Slide Over enough, and I need to figure out ways to use it to my advantage. And I keep using 3D Touch in third-party apps on the iPhone 6S to no avail. I’m sure from the vantage point of 2016, I will look back at these days as a strangely primitive time. It’s early days yet. In some ways the release of new Apple hardware and OS versions is the start of the story, not the end of it.

  1. Bloop! goes the Taptic Engine. No Quick Actions on this app icon. 

If you appreciate articles like this one, support us by becoming a Six Colors subscriber. Subscribers get access to an exclusive podcast, members-only stories, and a special community.

Search Six Colors