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Apple to add Force Touch to next iPhone, report says

The new feature would allow your phone to respond differently depending on how hard you touch the screen.

Could the next iPhone get pressure sensitive with Apple's new Force Touch feature? CNET

Apple may bring its new Force Touch feature from the MacBook to the next iPhone.

Unveiled at the Apple Watch event on Monday, the Force Touch feature incorporated into the new 12-inch MacBook brings pressure sensitivity to the trackpad. That means you can trigger different actions depending on how much pressure you apply to the pad.

That same feature could pop up on the next generation of iPhones, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing "people familiar with the matter." Specifically, the sources said that Apple is planning to add the feature this year, though that isn't a guarantee it will show up. Assuming the information is accurate, however, the feature seems to at least be on the table.

Force Touch sounds like a natural for a touch-driven device like the iPhone. Currently, you must use different gestures to navigate the screen. For example, you need to use a two-finger swipe to zoom in or out of the screen. On the MacBook, Force Touch can detect the difference between a light tap and a deep press. Adapting that for the iPhone could eliminate the two-finger swipe, allowing you instead to employ a deep press to zoom into the screen.

Touch sensitivity has been on Apple's drawing board for a while, according to a patent application published in January 2014. The patent filing dubbed "Gesture and Touch Input Detection Through Force Sensing" described a way of adding force sensors to a touchscreen.

Force Touch is just one feature Apple is eyeballing for this year's iPhone lineup, according to the Journal's sources. The company aims to stick with the current 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, respectively. But it also may add another case color with the introduction of a pink phone.

Details about Apple's plans for this year's iPhone come from Apple suppliers, the Journal said, adding that the company tests different technologies that may not end up in the actual product. Whichever features wend their way into the next iPhones, mass production for some of its parts is expected to kick off in May, the sources noted.

An Apple spokeswoman declined CNET's request for comment.

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