Chromebooks are getting pressure-sensitive touchscreens

Chrome OS’s source code just spilled the beans.


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iPhone and some modern Android phones have pressure-sensitive touchscreens, and Chromebooks are soon to join them. Recent changes to Chrome OS’s source code show Google is working on support for pressure-sensitive touchscreens, or what’s known as “3D Touch” on Apple’s iPhone.

Android is getting this feature soon, too

This change was first spotted by Chrome Unboxed. It noticed that Chrome OS’s developers have been adding support for touchscreens made by Melfas, a Korean company. More interestingly, the source code for the Melfas touchscreen driver includes references to two types of touch: “Touch only” and “Touch + Force(Pressure).”

Google recently released Android 7.0 Nougat, which was supposed to include support for pressure-sensitive displays. Unfortunately, pressure-sensitive touchscreen support was delayed to a future release of Android. Still, there are Android phones with pressure-sensitive screens today, and Google will likely want to get all Android phone manufacturers on board with a common standard—just as it added standardized fingerprint reader support to Android back in Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

With Android getting this feature and the entire Google Play Store and all its Android apps coming to Chromebooks, it makes sense for Google to add pressure-sensitive display support to Chromebooks as well. It’s unclear if that pressure sensitivity will be used for anything outside of Android apps that use it, however.

This doesn’t mean that a Chromebook with a pressure-sensitive touchscreen is on its way any time soon. Google is just adding the low-level code, and manufacturers must choose to build Chromebooks with pressure-sensitive screens even when Google fully supports this hardware. It’s also worth noting that your old Chromebook won’t get this feature—you’ll need a new Chromebook with a new type of touchscreen to get this feature when it’s released.

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