Google’s answer to 3D Touch is destined to fail

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Google Pixel phone family
Google's next Pixel phones will be squeezable.
Photo: Google

Google’s next-generation Pixel smartphones will finally give pure Android lovers an alternative to the iPhone’s 3D Touch. But it won’t be anywhere near as good.

Instead of using pressure-sensitive displays like Apple, the company is said to be ripping off the new HTC U11’s squeezable edges.

That’s right — the HTC U11 has a body that you can literally squeeze to perform different actions. You can use it to zoom into maps and photos, to answer and end calls, to silence alarms, to switch views in the Calendar app, and more.

According to a source familiar with Google’s plans, who has been speaking to XDA Developers, Google will bring the same feature to its upcoming Pixel 2 smartphones. One of its functions will be to launch the Google Assistant, and it’ll work even when the phone is asleep.

It’s certainly a unique answer to 3D Touch, but it won’t be anywhere near as good. Apple’s solution does so much more, and because it can be used anywhere on the iPhone’s display, it’s more precise. You have different actions and shortcuts depending on where you press.

It’s not clear why Apple’s biggest rivals haven’t ripped off 3D Touch. If you make a conscious effort to use it, it’s terrific, and you’ll eventually wonder how you ever lived without it. But pressure-sensitive displays are difficult to manufacture, so that could explain it.

In addition to its squeezable edges, the Pixel 2 is expected to offer new OLED displays manufactured by LG Display, and Google’s new Android O operating system. Recent rumors have claimed they will get their official unveiling in October.