The iPhone home button’s days might be numbered, a new report says. Apple is rumored to be working on a next-generation flagship iPhone to be released in 2017, and one of the many things included in the redesign is the removal of the iPhone’s iconic home button — something that Apple has long planned to do.
Rumors that Apple would axe the home button date back to 2011 — but those reports were dashed by Apple’s inclusion of Touch ID, which relies heavily on the home button’s design.
More recently, Apple’s new iPhone 7 — slated for release sometime next month — has been rumored to be the first to introduce some sort of intermediary home button replacement, but since Apple can’t exactly retire Touch ID — or the home button’s functions — the company needs to figure out how to simulate the functionality of the home button, but without an actual, physical button.
And for the 2017 Apple flagship, Cupertino is reportedly working on a solid-state, pressure sensitive touch module that could be integrated directly into the iPhone’s screen — simulating a home button’s capabilities without sacrificing valuable screen space.
This type of button wouldn’t actually “press down,” but would likely simulate a press — or a fingerprint input — with vibration. If these rumors pan out, the whole front of the phone could theoretically be used as a screen due to the space that a home-button replacement would free up.
So while we’re not entirely sure if the iPhone 7 will do away with the iconic home button, it’s likely that 2017’s iPhone 8 will see a major update to the front of Apple’s flagship device.
A New York Times article hinted that Apple was waiting for technology to mature enough before it could carry out its plans — and it’s likely that a home button replacement was one of the pieces of tech that Apple was waiting on.
Apple’s 2017 flagship is said to be bringing a slew of other changes to the iPhone line, including a completely refreshed design with a glass body and an OLED display.