Force Touch is the new pressure-sensitive tech from Apple that promises to change the way we interact with our Macs by offering shallow and deep "layers" of interaction on the trackpad.

First introduced on the MacBook and the MacBook Pro in early 2015, the company has since launched a new desk-based version of the Magic Trackpad for iMac, Mac Mini, or desk-bound laptop users.

Although pitched primarily at iMac and Mac mini users, the new trackpad works with any Mac model with Bluetooth 4.0 and running OS X. It means office users who already have a new Force Trackpad device can now use the feature on their desk, or those yet to experience the technology, like MacBook Air or Mac Mini users, get a chance to get in on the action.

But do you really need Force Touch, does it enhance the user experience, and should you bother investing in the new Magic Trackpad 2?

The Magic Trackpad 2 is a big gleaming white lump of plastic that dominates the desk and replaces the shiny metal-clad design of the original model.

The trackpad surface measures 160mm x 115mm, which is only slightly smaller than the iPad mini screen, but considerably bigger than the original Magic Trackpad. That gives you plenty of space manipulate your way around the number of gestures now available, or use it as a drawing pad with a stylus (some skill is still required).

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Side-by-side the older and newer models look vastly different. Ditching the replaceable AA batteries for a built-in lithium offering makes a huge difference, as does the move to feature the Force Touch technology.

Gone is the battery compartment at the rear that dictated the old design, and instead the Trackpad 2's solid one-piece design sits flush against the desk. The tilt is now also shallower, having lost the batteries, while the whole trackpad is wider, perhaps to symbolise screen ratio more. It is not an exact match to any one particular screen or monitor though.

An aside worth noting, the Trackpad 2 sits on four small flat feet, which look to be more robust than the previous feet on the original Trackpad (a small bugbear we've had in the past only discovered by using the trackpad for five years).

Although the Trackpad 2 connects to your Mac via Bluetooth, pairing is also possible by connecting via a Lightning cable. You can do this either via the one included in the box, or via one you've got lying around from your iPhone, and the process is seamless. No typing passcodes, no having to open Bluetooth preferences, just a notification to say it is connected. 

Charging is achieved via the same cable (the Lightning socket is tucked away around the back) and two hours of charging gives you a suggested month's worth of usage. In a week of daily use, we've used 12 per cent so far.

The key selling point and reason for the upgrade to the Trackpad 2 is for Force Touch, with the idea that the new Force sensors detect more than one type of click. A light click can perform one action, while a harder click can perform another, and you're able to adjust how hard a press is needed for any type of action.

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In addition an extended hard press is something that Apple has dubbed Force Click. You can Force Click on the trackpad to enable new capabilities, such as looking up the definition of a word or previewing a file. That could be something as simple as "deep pressing" on the Trash icon on the dock to pull up the empty trash option, or long pressing on a word in Safari to reveal its meaning.

Elsewhere the Force Touch feature can be used for pressure sensitive drawing (such as the thickness of the line) in apps like Pixelmator.

In some ways the addition of Force Touch is so subtle that you forget you are doing it. Deep pressing to reveal a preview instead of tapping the space bar, or previewing a website from within an email quickly becomes second nature, although we found playing around with the pressure settings in System Preferences helped our use greatly.

Magically, as the name of the product suggests, you can make the Trackpad 2 even quieter by turning on something called Silent Click.

Found in the trackpad settings in System Preferences, Silent Click effectively removes the high-pitched treble from the click. It makes a sound identical to the click sound on the MacBook Pro, and considerably reduces the noise the device makes.

It is a small detail, but alongside a number of other customisations like turning on tap-to-click, or even turning off the Force Click feature altogether, it really gives you plenty of options in how you want your new trackpad to act.

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With a new Magic Mouse 2 also available, and dozens of mice available from companies such as Logi, you may be asking why you should go Trackpad at all.

Having a trackpad means you can't really balance it on your leg easily, and as a device it is a lot bigger if you are a mobile worker. But if you are a laptop user the Magic Trackpad 2 experience is akin to what you have on the desk, while it should also help reduce your proneness to issues like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Perhaps the biggest reason we've found, though, having used the Mac trackpads and Magic Trackpad for a number of years, is that if you have heavily adopted gesture control then having access to those dozens of swipe-based gestures hugely increases the productivity of how you get around OS X. For us a mouse just can't beat that level of productivity.

Verdict

A separate trackpad won't suit all users, but if it's how you like to work then the Magic Trackpad 2 adds plenty of new features above and beyond the original model.

It's a larger landscape design, the ditching of the batteries is welcomed, charging is easy, and it's a lot quieter too - although we can't see that many people would complain about the noise in the first place.

But if you've been using the Magic Trackpad already, then the real reason to upgrade to the new product is Force Touch. A lot of what Apple is doing at the moment with OS X is adding nuanced controls rather than huge evolutions, and Force Touch is certainly the way to benefit from this.

That said, if you're not sold on Force Touch and already use the earlier model then you'll be happy with what you've got. If you are looking to upgrade from a mouse, however, then the decision is a lot easier: the Magic Trackpad 2 gives you a lot more of the functions you've become used to on your laptop, while reducing the chance of repetitive strain.