If you ask any Windows Phone fan what is the one Microsoft device they would love to have been released that was cancelled, most will likely say the McLaren. The device, which was never release by the company, has shown up in various forms of blurry photos and awfully recorded videos around the web but thanks to a new Microsoft research video, we can see what the ‘3D touch’ (Microsoft calls it pre-touch) would have looked like with the device.
While the device in the video is not named, we don’t get to see the backside of the phone which means we can’t for certain say this is the McLaren, Microsoft demonstrates the hero feature of the phone by highlighting several use-cases for the technology. The pre-touch feature shown in the video highlights how you can use the input method to have a richer interaction with the device, such as by squeezing the side of the device, you can interact with elements on the side of the phone.
We may never know why the company cancelled the device but there does appear to be some usability issues with this type of feature. Because pre-touch engages before you actually touch the glass, it would seem that false-positive interactions would be high with the end result being a gesture is performed that was not intended or a context menu shows up when it was not wanted.
Ultimately, Microsoft decided that this feature was not worth shipping a new phone and of course, the hardware likely added to the cost of a device which makes it a harder sell. In this view, pre-touch may have been more of a novelty than a killer feature but that doesn’t mean Microsoft won’t ever use the technology.
The company is expected to launch a new premium phone in early 2017 and they could include this technology if they can find a natural use-case that does not get in the way of the basic operation of the device.