With the impending announcement of a new iPhone expected in September, the internet is full of rumors about new features being added to the handset. Although unlikely on the next generation of phones, there is one feature that may disappear from the phone – the home button.
According to a report by DigiTimes, Apple is working on a design that would ditch the physical home button in favor of a full screen display, possibly with a virtual home button. How the ‘virtual’ home button would work is up for speculation.
The iPhone 6S will likely feature Force Touch technology on the display, allowing the phone to differentiate between a light tap and a hard press. While Force Touch could factor into a home button-less design, DigiTimes offers a different solution – a new chip that integrates the touchscreen and display drivers into a single chip. Apple is reportedly looking into developing such chips, called touch and display driver integration (TDDI), and has filed patents for such technology in the past. According to DigiTimes, the chips could “also come with integrated fingerprint sensors” which could simulate not only the home button, but the Touch ID sensor anywhere on the screen.
iPhone Concept Art by Martin Hajek
While DigiTimes sports a bit of a spotty track record when it comes to new information about iPhone technology, a source from AppleInsider has reportedly confirmed Apple’s desire to remove the physical home button. This source didn’t comment on the technology Apple would utilize to do so, however. AppleInsider also mentioned that an iPhone sans-home-button is more of a long term goal for Apple, and that “such a change will not arrive within the next two years”.
An iPhone without a physical home button likely won’t be seen in the iPhone 6S, which is expected to be announced in September of this year. The iPhone 7, expected in 2016 will likely depart from the physical design of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus may see some radical changes, but it’s probable that the home button will be with us for quite some time.