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Apple report reveals experimental new feature in next iPhone

Eight years after the first iPhone went on sale, Apple ramps up production on upcoming iPhones with Force Touch features, according to reports.

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Tim Cook talks about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus during an Apple event in San Francisco.

Eric Risberg/AP/File

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Monday marks the eighth anniversary of the iPhone. On June 29, 2007, queues formed outside Apple stores – long lines of loyalists that have become a semiannual tradition for the company.

While the silhouette of the original iPhone closely matches that of the iPhone 6, Apple's first smart phone shows just how far the industry has come. Just two months out of the gate, the iPhone underwent a dramatic price drop from $600 to $400; today, the baseline iPhone 6 costs just $200. The first iPhone had no 3G service, never mind today's 4G LTE. It had no downloadable apps; Apple's App Store wouldn't open for another year. Its 3.5-inch screen had worse resolution than a VHS tape, nothing compared to the iPhone 6's 4.7-inch Retina screen that outclasses HD video.

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Now, reports suggest that Apple is ramping up production on another feature that, the company hopes, will soon feel indispensable. 

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Bloomberg reports the Apple's next iPhone will include "Force Touch," technology that senses and responds to how hard people tap the screen. Apple's upcoming smart phone models will reach full production as soon as next month, according to "people with knowledge of the matter."

Just as with "apps" and "Retina" screens, Apple has seeded Force Touch features across its various devices. The company debuted the term with the Apple Watch and later brought it to the latest MacBook. By distinguishing between heavy and light taps, apps can quickly react or serve up new information. For example, a soft nudge on the new MacBook's track pad acts as a normal click, while a strong push can bring up definitions of words or previews of documents. 

Apple has worked for two years to develop Force Touch, and to create the global supply chain necessary to put the new technology into hundreds of millions of devices. The new form of touch sensitivity could help keep Apple ahead of rivals such as Samsung, whose smart phones use eye-tracking, curved screens, and other features unavailable in Apple devices. After three years of Samsung outselling Apple worldwide, the California company recently seized the title for itself, topping 61 million phone sales over the last quarter.