One of the new features highlighted by Google in the second Android N Developer Preview were launcher shortcuts. While Google did not provide any imagery in the developer documentation, Phandroid, with the help of some developers, was able to create a working demo that reveals an iOS-like 3D Touch feature in Android N…
Google says launcher shortcuts are meant to help users perform actions quicker and can contain an “Intent into specific points within your app.” The company cites possible uses like sending a message to your best friend, navigating home in a mapping app, or playing the next episode of a TV show in a media app.
It turns out the actual implementation of this feature is very similar to Apple’s 3D Touch and possibly alludes to what features upcoming hardware will have. Launcher shortcuts have to be supported by the launcher and require an app with the added functionality. Using Nova Launcher and a weather app, Phandroid was able to get the feature working.
As seen in the video, swiping down on an app icon reveals a dropdown with an extended weather forecast. In theory, tapping on any item would allow users to navigate to a specific part of an app. An alternate gesture involves holding down the app icon and revealing a dropdown of settings.
Developers can begin adding this functionality to their apps and should be able to begin releasing them to Android N devices later this year. As usual, Google is giving developers more freedom than Apple does in allowing them to more customize the feature to their liking.
It’s possible that future Nexus hardware from Google will include a force sensitive screen to go hand-in-hand with this feature. OEMs like Huawei and ZTE have already added the hardware with some similar functionality and a recent rumor said that an HTC-made Nexus is scheduled to have a 3D Touch-like feature. It wouldn’t be surprising, but we’ll have to wait until later this year to know for sure.