What is Apple's Taptic Engine and How Does It Work?

What is Apple’s Taptic Engine and How Does It Work?

Apple’s Taptic Engine is a haptic feedback system that utilizes a linear actuator to create vibrations. Apple’s Taptic Engine, introduced on the iPhone 6s and later used in the Apple Watch, allows users to interact with their devices without needing physical buttons. With this new method of interaction, it can be easy to forget how technology has advanced over time. In this article, we’ll detail what Apple’s Taptic Engine is and how it works so you can understand how technology has developed to give you a better user experience with your device.

The Key Takeaways

  • Apple’s taptic engine produces haptic feedback that gives you a sense of touch.
  • people with vision impairments use Apple’s taptic engine to help them read Braille more accurately.
  • Apple’s taptic engine consists of an electromagnet, a metal weight, and a spring.
  • The number of taps delivered by Apple’s taptic engine in one second determines how hard or soft the vibration feels.

What is a Taptic Engine?

A Taptic Engine is a haptic feedback system that uses a linear actuator to create vibration. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were the first Apple devices to use this technology. The engine produces haptic feedback that gives the user a sense of touch. You can use haptic feedback for numerous purposes, such as providing feedback when a button is pressed or providing directional cues in a game.

When someone receives an iMessage on their phone, the phone will buzz so they know it has been delivered. In addition, some people with vision impairments use it to help them read Braille more accurately. The Taptic Engine also provides tactile feedback during handshakes and other physical interactions.

The company that developed the technology, Immersion Corporation, was bought by Apple in 2008. There is speculation that this purchase was made to better compete with Nokia phones, which had become popular because of their vibrating notification systems.

How Does Apple’s Taptic Engine Work?

The Taptic Engine is a linear actuator that produces haptic feedback. For instance, when you receive a notification, the Taptic Engine will give you a light tap. The engine consists of an electromagnet, a metal weight, and a spring. When the electromagnet is activated, it moves the metal weight, pushing on the spring.

This action creates the haptic feedback that you feel on your wrist. The number of taps delivered in one second determines how hard or soft the vibration feels. For example, if five taps are delivered in one second, this would be classified as a medium-strength pulse. On the other hand, if 20 taps are delivered in one second, this would be classified as a heavy pulse.

In some cases, like with custom vibrations set by specific apps such as FaceTime or Mail, there may not even be any time between pulses to indicate different strengths. The Taptic Engine also allows you to determine whether to use slow vibrations (which typically last 1/2 second) or fast vibrations (which usually last just 1/4 of a second).

With slow oscillations, up to four distinct pulses can be felt, while with rapid vibrations, only two distinct pulses can be felt.

Explaining the Haptic Feedback

Haptic feedback is typically the use of touch to provide users with feedback. When you press a button on your iPhone, the Taptic Engine creates a slight vibration. This haptic feedback lets you know that your input has been registered.

The Taptic Engine can also be used for other purposes, such as providing haptic feedback when you scroll through a list or receive a notification.

You may have already experienced this if you have an iPhone 6s or a newer model. If not, it is possible to turn on Haptic Feedback in the settings menu. The Taptic engine does not replace the need for tactile buttons, which will still allow for physical input like pressing enter on a keyboard.

Instead, the device uses vibrations to compensate for these lost buttons by providing feedback when tapping something like a button. Haptic feedback is more responsive than relying on audible cues like sounds because many sounds are ambient noise and not consistently detectable.

With these updates from iOS 11, there should be less reliance on checking your phone just because you’re curious about new notifications or messages.

The Evolution of Haptics

Haptics, or the study of touch, has been around for centuries. The haptics field has seen many advancements in recent years, thanks in part to Apple’s Taptic Engine. The Taptic Engine creates haptic feedback, which can be used for various purposes, such as providing tactile feedback when using a virtual keyboard or providing haptic feedback when gaming.

Unlike some other technologies, this type of haptic feedback doesn’t use electricity but instead uses a motor and silicone diaphragm. The pressure created by the motor against the silicone diaphragm provides friction on one side while compressing air on the other side. Compressing air causes sound waves picked up by our ears and interpreted as vibrations through our fingertips.

These vibrations are delivered at frequencies that are imperceptible to humans but very satisfying for pets who can feel them across their entire body surface.

The Evolution of Haptics

Effects on User Experience

The Taptic Engine creates haptic feedback or the sensation of touch on Apple devices. This feedback creates various user experiences, such as the bounce when scrolling through a long list on an iPhone. The engine can also be used for more specific purposes, like providing directional cues in a VR game or simulating the feeling of button presses.

The engine creates haptic feedback using two linear actuators that vibrate differently. The first actuator creates a short vibration, while the second creates a longer one. By combining these two vibrations, the Taptic Engine can create various sensations.

Explaining the Haptics Technology

The Taptic Engine is a haptic feedback system first introduced on the Apple Watch. This system creates realistic, physical feedback that can give users tactile feedback when interacting with on-screen elements. The engine uses a linear actuator to create vibrations sent through the watch’s casing and into the user’s skin.

The software generates haptic feedback, which can create different patterns and intensities of vibration. The Taptic Engine can also create haptic feedback in other devices, such as the iPhone and iPad. Apple has been using this technology for years, but it was only recently that the company released an API for third-party developers to use in their apps.

With this update, app developers will have more control over how their programs respond to touch events. Users can also customize the types of vibrations used within a given application.

Allowing for customization could make it easier for people who need custom settings because of disabilities or limitations from injury. For example, someone who suffers from a disorder like Parkinson’s disease may not want any sudden feedback on their phone screen. But someone else may find just the right level of pressure helps them work better than silence or music.

Explaining the Haptics Technology

Applications in Virtual Reality

The Taptic Engine provides haptic feedback, or the sense of touch, in response to user interactions with the iPhone. This engine uses a linear actuator to create strong vibrations to be felt but not so disruptive. The iPhone’s haptic feedback can be used in various applications, including virtual reality.

In virtual reality, the Taptic Engine can provide haptic feedback that simulates the feeling of touching objects in the virtual world. This feedback can make the virtual world feel more realistic and can help users interact with it more intuitively. For instance, if a user reaches out to touch an object in the virtual world, they will feel a vibration on their fingertips when they reach close enough to the object.

The Benefits of Apple’s Taptic Engine

It is safe to say that Taptic Engine is shrouded by several benefits which endear the technology to users. Here are a few of the benefits:

  1. The Taptic Engine provides users with haptic feedback or a sensation of touch. This can make using an iPhone or other Apple device more intuitive and user-friendly.
  2. The Taptic engine can also create different vibrations, adding another layer of realism to gaming experiences on iOS devices.
  3. Additionally, the Taptic Engine can be used for communication purposes. For example, it can provide haptic feedback when typing on a virtual keyboard.
  4. The engine can also help save battery life by reducing the need for other power-hungry components, like the display or audio speaker, to produce vibrations.


Apple’s Taptic Engine is a haptic feedback system that uses tactile sensations to give users feedback. The engine uses two linear actuators to create vibrations, which are then transferred to the user through the phone’s casing. The engine can create different vibrations depending on the type of feedback desired.

For example, a light tap can be used for notifications, while a stronger vibration can be used for gaming purposes. As mentioned before, the engine uses piezoelectric materials, which allow it to emit varying patterns of oscillations. These oscillations depend on how hard they need to be felt by the user to convey their meaning successfully.

Despite the haptic technology existing for a longer period, Apple Company has popularized it by making the technology appear as if it’s new through its use in the latest devices. It’s unimaginable that the haptic feedback communicates to the user in various ways. Kudos to the Company for achieving the unthinkable with the Taptic Engine!


Reference 2: https://appleinsider.com/articles/16/09/27/inside-the-iphone-7-apples-taptic-engine-explained