The fierce race of features between Android and iOS lasted for more than 10 years is making these two rivals blend into each other. Both platforms strive to learn the best of each other to bring to their loyal users. By this time, the gap between the ability to master hardware is what brings the difference in user experience between iPhone and the Android world.
One of the anonymous heroes behind this difference of Apple is the detail that many people criticize, which is the vibration feature based on their Taptic Engine engine. While it helps Apple remove physical buttons without bothering fans, it is considered a criminal when starting the disappearance of 3.5mm audio jack on the phone.
Taptic Engine on iPhone 7, hero and criminal when leading to the death of 3.5mm headphone jack.
Regardless, Taptic Engine is not only a small technical feat, but also a strategic advantage, as it retains Apple's emphasis on a simple and easy user experience. Even iFixit engineers are impressed by it on every Apple device they dissect, as well as the way it takes Apple toward the future.
The first to shake Apple's response
Feedback vibration is the core technology behind the virtual key press on iPhone 7, 8, Force Touch effect on the MacBook mouse and the 3D Touch feature on the new iPhone and Apple Watch.
Simply put, vibration feedback recreates the feeling of touch or movement on an object that does not move or moves as a button or a mousewheel. This technology includes a vibrating motor, which emits soft vibrations when you press or touch it.
From left to right, Taptic Engine on iPhone 7, 6S and 6.
Apple registered the brand for its own vibration engine under the name Taptic Engine. Introduced for the first time on the Apple Watch in 2014 and then uploaded to the iPhone 6S in 2015, it finally appeared on every Apple product line (except iPad). Force Touch and 3D Touch are a bit different, but their core functions are still similar: bringing feedback to the next level.
Apple was not the first company to find a way to bring feedback to an interesting feature on the glass surface of the phone. When the phones lost their hard keyboard in the early 2000s, many companies tried to reproduce that feeling on the touch surface.
BlackBerry was the first company to try to do that with the Storm, watching the entire screen as a button. The Motorola Rokr E8 also uses feedback vibration to simulate the feel of real keys. Most Android phones (especially before 2014) are equipped with a feature called "vibrate on touch" that allows you to vibrate the phone every time you touch.
But what sets Apple's Taptic Engine apart from other responsive vibration applications over the years is the level of accuracy Apple puts into it, especially in an increasingly tight space within smartphones. With that effort, Apple is far ahead of any other company in removing hard keys without making users feel nostalgic.
Motion vibration of Taptic Engine on iPhone 6S.
Probably not many people noticed that from iPhone 4 to iPhone 6, Apple replaced 3 different vibration engines before testing a version of Taptic Engine according to its own design on iPhone 6. When Apple launched Engine In 2014, it only added a unique feature that brought delicate vibration capabilities to 3D Touch.
However, to the iPhone 7, it really became a hero in the journey that brought the characteristic feeling of a moving key on a motionless surface. Some people like it, others don't, but anyway, it's really an attractive feature.
What makes Taptic Engine so different?
To understand this, it is necessary to see what people are doing on their phones. Most Android devices are transferred from Eccentric Rotating Mass (ERM – Eccentric rotating motor) vibration motor to a more sensitive motor, Linear Resonant Actuator (LRA – linear resonance drive) – of the same type with dynamic engine vibrates on Apple. But most Android manufacturers don't pay attention to leveraging its capabilities like Apple did with their software. Except LG, with LG V30 and V40 devices.
Two types of vibration motor on phones, ERM deviation motor and LRA linear resonance motor.
So what did Apple do to make Taptic Engine feel better than other competitors? Some may be the preferences or feelings of each person, but the main factor for this is in resonance.
When the weight presses on the engine to vibrate so that it moves up and down at the right speed, the vibrations created by the engine will be diffused across the phone. The vibrating motors on modern smartphones are designed to operate in a resonant frequency – just like the name Linear Resonant Actuator – but only because an engine only vibrates at its best frequency That means that the vibration effect will resonate with the user's feeling.
Different vibration motors will resonate at different vibration frequencies, so even if the weight is applied to the motor moving at the resonant frequency, the vibration effect will also vary, depending on the picture. type, size, and position of the engine. Changes in engine size and shape also affect the time it takes to vibrate at the resonant frequency, and thus also affect its accuracy when used in the operating system.
Vibration motion of Taptic Engine on iPhone 7.
Therefore, Apple has tweaked its Taptic Engine so that resonant frequencies are optimized for fast and accurate touches, and because they are designed by the company themselves, they can choose specific sizes and shapes. and frequency for each product. In contrast, other smartphone manufacturers are pleased with any vibration motor that the supplier offers them.
Most Android manufacturers are not capable of vertically integrating both hardware and software as Apple does, which always gives them an advantage in this game. The exception is Google's own Pixel – although technically not produced by Google, they are deeply involved in the design and production process.
Pixels also use square LRA engines, capable of delivering more vibrate modes, similar to the iPhone's Taptic Engine. But Google doesn't integrate many vibration features into its software, so their feedback APIs for app developers are not as clear as Apple. Android device owners cannot set different vibrations or vibrations for different calls or messages, at least without additional applications.
Compare vibration motion between Taptic Engine on 7 Plus and Pixel XL's engine.
Software is also a factor that makes Taptic Engine unique and more capable than other devices. Simply put, the Taptic Engine became the king of feedback because Apple cared more about it than any other company in the industry.
Now the battle in the smartphone world is turning to the high-end segment. All components inside the device costing 1,000 USD exist for specific reasons. Look at the important space inside the device Apple sacrificed for its Taptic Engine engine compared to other competitors. Even with the larger iPhone XS Max, the Taptic Engine engine is also larger.
Why is vibrating feedback important to the future
The focus on Apple's feedback vibration is reflected in all their product lines. The Taptic Engine division occupies a portion of the area under the tiny Apple Watch screen, which takes up space for the battery.
Force Force Touch on MacBook Retina 2015.
Discussing Force Touch of the MacBook Pro was born in part because of the desire to save space that was already narrow inside the 2015 MacBook Pro, so there was not enough room for a moving mouse table. But Apple's gamble paid off. Most new MacBook users will tell you that using Force Touch will appeal to you more than anything else.
Even so, not everyone is paying attention to everything that Apple's power to respond to vibrations brings. Unless you have someone tell you about it, you probably won't hear many iPhone owners praising 3D Touch. The Verge page also said that the removal of 3D Touch on iPhone XR shows how it is an unnecessary and redundant feature.
But these feedback talents are holding new possibilities for the company's future. One of the future may lie in replacing the keyboards that are having problems with Apple with a hard-key keyboard: a touch screen that detects press force, gives feedback and modifies it accordingly. want, for example localize their keyboard.
Such a full-screen laptop can be more like a demonstration prototype than a useful product. But just like a virtual Home key and a mouse-click table don't really need to click, don't be surprised if Apple will bring it to you sometime.
Refer to iFixit