A couple of OEMs as expected, released phones this year with pressure sensitive displays including Huawei and Meizu with their new flagships. However, without Android’s native support for this hardware, developers will be reluctant to build apps specifically for them. Thankfully, with Android N, Google is bringing official libraries for this feature.
In the recent Android N developer preview update, users were greeted with something called “Launcher Shortcuts” that basically lets you access different actions or pages of a particular application. For instance, you can directly get into a specific settings page without actually scrolling through the entire list. It works exactly like what Apple offers with their “3D Touch” which is obviously the primary source of this addition – you get a pop-up menu for some quick actions.
However, Google didn’t reveal anything until some folks at Phandroid teamed up with Nova Launcher to explore a new method called “setDynamicShortcuts(List)”. Although, they weren’t sure about if this will require any additional display hardware or it makes use of normal gestures. Verge, as a result, picked up the discussion and asked Google regarding this, turns out they’re bringing native support for pressure sensitive screens.
Google raised the same issue of manufacturers coming up unique libraries for their own devices resulting in a programming chaos for app developers who are interested. Long story short, with universal Android libraries, smartphones with this kind of hardware can easily get 3rd-party support. Although this doesn’t mean we’re going to see tons of upcoming Android devices sporting this feature, probably the next Nexus devices will showcase this to its full extent.
This is definitely going to push more and more OEMs into the whole “3D-Touch” paradigm. Sadly, updates won’t pour as quickly as we want them to be. The majority of the new Android phones releasing still come with Android 5.1. Hence, pressure sensitive displays won’t go mainstream at least until next year. Google mentions that the whole point of releasing these Android N previews so early is to get developer feedback and get manufacturers on board to improve the update cycle for newer versions of Android.