Force Touch

Force Touch, or “Peek ‘n’ Pop” was first introduced in 2014 with the iPhone 6s. You could force press on an app icon to bring up a menu of deep links within the app. This force touch functionality later became available to use within the Fidelity app, and so we began some exploration.

The Situation

Force Touch basically became the “right click of touch interface” it offered a lot power and speed to the user. We saw an opportunity to help our active investors get through tasks faster. For example, a trade button could have force touch ability to reveal a quick way to choose buy/sell - shortening the time a user is spending setting up a trade.

My Role

I led the design exploration for how force touch could be implemented into the Fidelity iOS experience. I collaborated with fellow designer who had done work on the initial force touch efforts (access to a shortcut menu on the app icon, and access to a widget outside the app). The goal was to find ways that Force Touch could be used to augment certain tasks, like viewing balance info, placing a trade, or accessing a stock quote.


Jonathan Kardos - Director | An Kang - UX Designer | Andy Flinders - UX Development | Paul Sisler - User Research

Actions Taken

  • Explored existing peeks offered by the OS. Those consisted of two styles: 1. A quick view into the next screen a user is going to be taken to; and 2. a contextual menu where a user can take actions relating to the item that was pressed. We were interested in exploring both methods.

iOS Mail (Peek into next screen)

iOS Mail (Peek into next screen)

iOS Music (contextual menu)

iOS Music (contextual menu)

iOS Contacts (contextual menu)

iOS Contacts (contextual menu)

  • I created a list of instances within the experience where we could implement each type of peek and detailed what relative actions would be involved.

  • I designed each potential peek screen/menu and worked directly with our UX developer, Andy, to make sure the live prototype looked and acted as designed.


User Testing

This functionality was not something that was going to be easy to test with our standard prototyping tools, so our ux developer, Andy, helped us build this in real code. We built out all of the instances listed in the document above and prepared for qualitative user testing.

The goal of the study was to get an understanding of the usability, and even usefulness/desirability of the feature. We have often built features as branding moves, keeping up with technology and staying up to date with the early adopters., but we were considerate enough to take the time and test this out.

12 participants were invited in for 40 minute 1:1 sessions, with our usability researcher, Paul Sisler. Participants were screened to narrow down the population to iPhone users of 6+ months who have a brokerage/IRA with Fidelity, who are users of the Fidelity mobile app, and who consider themselves early tech adopters.


  • Force touch, at the time, was a fairly new thing, so whether it was an early tech adopter or not, we found users still finding issues with getting the pressure and timing right to correctly maneuver the functionality.

  • Users were appreciative of the additional menus that force touch would provide, but without affordances, it was proving very difficult to find, unless we told users to search for the particular function.

  • The standard peek was generally underwhelming giving a user a preview of the screen to come - might as well tap and navigate directly.


Over a year later, we still have not implemented Force Touch, even though the functionality is code ready. This was a great example of situations where big shiny objects are not as big and shiny as they often seem. The fact that we were able to perform some qualitative user testing was helpful in deciding whether this functionality was even worth implementing. You’ll even find that apple seems to be backing away from it as it is not present in the new iPhone XR.

Thanks to the Mobile Design Team

Andy Flinders | Evan Gerber | Sam Hong | Damon Jones | An Kang | Jonathan Kardos | Chris Lackey | Dan Murphy | Julia Paranay | Elizabeth Ryan | Marcy Regalado