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Video: iOS 9 hacked to bring 3D Touch Peek and Pop to iPad Pro via Apple Pencil pressure


Intrepid iOS developer/hacker Hamza Sood is back, this time with a cool hack to bring 3D Touch to the iPad Pro. By hooking relevant parts of the iOS system code via a jailbreak, detailed here on GitHub, iOS turns pressure data from Apple Pencil into pressure data for 3D Touch interactions. This is neat for two reasons: iPad Pro does not normally support 3D Touch (a feature currently exclusive to iPhone 6s) and its an unorthdox use for the Apple Pencil sensors, which is generally focused on drawing and sketching. You can see the video of the hack in action after the break …

This is all possible because the Apple Pencil reports pressure data back to the system, intended to add an extra dimension when painting or drawing. The sensors to do this are contained in the pencil, not in the iPad Pro display — so you couldn’t do this with just your fingers a la iPhone 6s 3D Touch. Sood’s code converts the raw force data into sensible numbers expected by the 3D Touch Peek and Pop system.

At least officially, Apple doesn’t seem keen on exploiting the technology in the Pencil for things aside from sketching or drawing … but it can act as a generic pointing across the iOS UI. Even if its technically possible, Apple is unlikely to bring 3D Touch to iPad Pro via the Apple Pencil for marketing reasons.

Although the iPad Pro itself is available in stores and online, the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories continue to be in low supply around the world, backordered up to 4 weeks when ordering from the Apple Online Store.


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  1. florinnica - 7 years ago

    Where is the video?

    • mikhailt - 7 years ago

      Refresh, it’ll be at the very end via the Twitter’s video embedded player.

  2. mikhailt - 7 years ago

    > Even if its technically possible, Apple is unlikely to bring 3D Touch to iPad Pro via the Apple Pencil for marketing reasons.

    Care to explain what marketing reasons Apple could have to not bring 3D Touch to iPad Pro? This is the very reason to have a Pencil, it’s an extra bonus feature to buy the Pencil for. I already use the pencil as the way to navigate the UI on the iPad Pro. If Apple intentionally disallowing this for some stupid marketing reasons, they absolutely deserve to get bent.

    • Benjamin Mayo - 7 years ago

      Really short: Pencil is an art tool. Adding on extra functionality just because it is possible isn’t really Apple’s game. Plus, 3D Touch with a Pencil is very different feel to 3D Touch with a finger.

      • mikhailt - 7 years ago

        1. What is an “art tool”? There are reviews over all the place of people using iPad Pro as a note-taking tablet with zero needs for drawing. It’s a marking tool as Jony Ive said, it’s to draw lines, take notes, and so on where it can be better than a fat finger. It’s a smart stylus with great integration with iPad Pro, nothing more than that.
        2. Adding extra functionality is not Apple’s game? Apple added quick previews via three-finger taps to all trackpads, which in Yosemite came with support for site previews in Safari 9. Three-finger tap on a word to bring up definition, all of which can be done with the Pencil. OK, I cannot edit my last post but what I meant is that Apple can bring peek/pop support to iPad Pro with the Pencil.
        3. The only difference is that 3D touch on iPhone comes with haptic feedback where 3D touches with Pencil would not have one. It’s not that vital to have this on iPad Pro, the ability to pop or just Peek is enough and can be easily done just as this tweak and OS X has shown.

      • mikhailt - 7 years ago

        Just to be clear, three-finger gestures from OS X can be used with the Pencil on iPad. Site previews, lookup, flight tracking, and so on.

      • taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

        Imagine it is much easier for Apple to add #D Touch using the Pencil then a screen at this point. I doubt if the next Air of next Pro features 3D Touch.Will probably be sometime in 2017 before screen panels that support 3D Touch are at the stage Apple needs them to be before moving to production.

        SO, why not give the feature to Pro users now? It as more productivity uses on an iPad then an iPhone. I honestly think it should been implemented on iPads before the iPhone. The screen size is prohibitive to adding 3D Touch panel right now though i would imagine.

    • As the author of the hack states so succinctly, it’s USELESS. The Pencil is not a stylus. A stylus might primarily be used for navigating a UI, whereas the pencil is most certainly designed for drawing and writing, not navigation. Navigating using the pencil is useful insofar as it might save you from moving a finger while in the midst of drawing, but otherwise it serves no purpose – the entirety of iOS is built with tap targets comfortably sized for a finger.

      You can expect 3D Touch to eventually make its way to the iPad Pro, where it will primarily be used with a finger as part of navigation, just like with the iPhone.

      But the more interesting thing about a potential new generation iPad Pro is even faster drawing with less lag and thinner lamination on the screen to get the pixels even closer to the surface.

    • Marco Wenk (@wenkmarco) - 7 years ago

      You are supposed to use the pencil for drawing, sketching, maybe writing, you shouldn’t be using it instead of your finger but rather in addition to your finger. thats why its sold separately

  3. rrobinson1216 - 7 years ago

    What jailbreak did he use to do this? The Pro shipped with 9.1….

  4. BongBong (@BongBong) - 7 years ago

    Pop up menus in art programs for settings and tool changes would be outstanding.

  5. Gryffin Becker - 7 years ago

    Apple Pencil is very sweet. I’ve tested it against the MS Surface stylus, and the Apple Pencil is simply better. Like, by an order of magnitude better.

    I see three ”holes’ that need to be filled:

    1. They really should implement an “eraser” tip at the opposite end of the draw tip. It’s pretty much a convention with these kinds of tools.

    2. There should be some kind of lanyard – perhaps simply something that clips on – to help us not lose Apple Pencil. Or it’s little cap thingie.

    3. Someone should make a case for iPad Pro that can securely store Apple Pencil. And perhaps even an extra pocket for an iPhone.

    I actually agree that iPad Pro + Apple Pencil is not for everyone. But I love it a lot, and I’ve been hoping and anticipating something like this ever since the 1st generation iPad. I think / I hope that Apple will go on to provide Apple Pencil support on all of its touch-screen devices.


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Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.