Since 2007, smartphones have largely looked the same. Form factors have grown slimmer, and displays are denser, but the overall motif really hasn't evolved much. So, what's truly "next" for smartphones? Perhaps it's intelligence. With Siri
, Google Now, and Cortana taking the stage as personal assistants, Microsoft
is hoping to take that notion another direction with 3D Touch features. The rumored addition could ship in Lumia handsets "later this year."
As of now, a codenamed "McLaren" product has integrated Kinect
-like features that put focus on gestures and motion, and require less tapping and swiping. 3D Touch (or Real Motion) would be the feature that Microsoft touts as its version of Samsung's Air Controls. Unique to 3D Touch, however, is the sensor array. Purportedly, these devices will boast a vast quantity of sensors that will allow users to accomplish such things as answering a phone call by holding it to one's head, or hang up a call by sliding it into one's pocket.
The real beauty is in the nuance; it can reportedly mute the microphone if you quickly move the phone to your chest (as in, you're on a call but you see a friend walk by and quietly say hello), or dismiss an alert with just a wave. It'll be a challenge, most likely, to convince the masses to believe in such a system. Like it or not, multi-touch has become the norm for smartphone interaction, and these types of things generally take time to change. Even today, the conventional keyboard + mouse is the mainstay for PC interaction, despite those inputs being around for a very, very long time.
Still, this could be a boon for mobile gaming as well, assuming that the gesture sensors are accurate enough to assess quick motions.