Force Touch on a Huawei Mate S

When Android N launches this fall, the operating system will not include built-in support for pressure-sensitive touch screens in the vein of Apple’s 3D Touch.

That’s the gist of a brief report from Recode that came out today, which claims that Google delayed the feature due to unspecified reasons. The feature will probably be released, sources say, as part of a “maintenance update.” Think Android 7.1.

Let’s back up a little here. What is 3D Touch? Also known as Force Touch, it’s Apple’s pressure-sensing technology, as featured on the most recent iPhones. A 3D Touch display can tell the difference between a normal tap and a harder one, even if the duration of the taps is the same. The operating system can respond with different actions – hard tap on a homescreen shortcut, for instance, and you’ll get a menu of useful actions; a normal tap will just open the app.

3D Touch in action on an iPhone 6S

Even before the release of the 3D Touch-enabled iPhone 6S, Huawei launched a version of the Mate S featuring a similar technology. ZTE has followed suit and other manufacturers are rumored to be considering the technology.

Google is preempting this trend by baking support for 3D Touch-like screens into stock Android. Clues about this integration were found in the Android N developer preview, and Google confirmed to Mashable that Android N’s Launcher Shortcuts API would support pressure sensitive screens, in addition to other interaction methods like swipes or long presses.

To be clear, nothing prevents OEMs from putting pressure sensitive displays on their devices right now. They only need to develop their own APIs. But if Google adds support right into the operating system, the number of devices (and third-party apps) that take advantage of this feature will explode.

For a closer look at what we know about Android N so far, check out our feature roundup.

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