Google is preparing to offer OS-level support for pressure-sensitive displays on Android devices in its next major update this year.
Last week, the company released its second Android N Developer Preview, adding support for 'Launcher Shortcuts', enabling software creators to "define shortcuts which users can expose in the launcher to help them perform actions quicker". If that sounds vaguely familiar, it's probably because the same description could be applied to Apple's 3D Touch feature, which works with the pressure-sensitive screens on its iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
Phandroid published a proof-of-concept video to show how the feature could be implemented in Android N, which will be known as Android 7.0 when it's released, noting that Google envisages various scenarios for which Launcher Shortcuts are ideally suited:
- Navigating users to a particular location in a mapping app.
- Sending messages to a friend in a communication app.
- Playing the next episode of a TV show in a media app.
- Loading the last save point in a gaming app.
Separately, Google told The Verge that its decision to integrate support for pressure-sensitive displays into the OS is a direct response to requests from Android device manufacturers. Android OEMs wishing to implement pressure-sensitive features into their devices - such as Huawei's Mate S and P9 Plus - have so far had to develop their own solutions for doing so.
By baking this functionality into the OS, it will make things easier for manufacturers, offer a standardized framework for developers, and - theoretically - improve discoverability of pressure-sensitivity features across Android devices for end-users.