Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 8 next month, but reports say it'll be missing one key feature that made iPhones iconic: the home button.
What's so iconic about a home button, anyway? Lots of current phones don't even have one. Well, a decade ago, phones were clunky hunks of metal with keypads, keyboards, and all sorts of messy user interfaces. Then came the iPhone, which was all screen. It had few buttons, but the most significant of all was placed in the front. The home button did everything. From wherever you are, clicking that button sent you to the homescreen. It was easy to understand, intuitive, and it made sense.
But Apple will get rid of it, reports say. One of the key rumors of the next iPhone is that it will feature a bezel-less display, which leaves no space for a home button on the front panel. Apple will replace it with a virtual home button that supports gesture controls.
How Apple Will Replace The Home Button On iPhone 8
As Bloomberg reports, there will be a "thin, software bar" across the bottom of the screen that acts as the home button. Users will be able to drag it up to the middle to open up the phone. When an app is running, doing the same gesture invokes the multitask interface. Flicking upward will close the app and return to the home screen.
If users don't want to deal with a virtual home button, there will apparently be a facial recognition method that can unlock the phone, as seen on the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Apple Likes Taking Things Out, It Seems
Apple is no stranger to taking things out. Last year, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus didn't have headphone jacks, and such a removal remains a hotly contested debate. Now, it's the home button's turn to get punted into the sunset. What once made the iPhone perform so fluidly and intuitively will be removed.
But it seems that's a sacrifice Apple is willing to make, if only for the benefit of a truly all-screen device. The iPhone's home button has changed a bit over the years. In later years it doubled as a fingerprint reader, and most recently it lost its "clickability" and instead provides haptic feedback when touched.
Though it might go away, we'll never forget that the home button was a symbol of the iPhone's sheer simplicity and elegance. It was one of the elements that make people say, "It just works!"
But the bigger question is, with the home button gone, what happens to TouchID? Some rumors say Apple will shift to 3D facial recognition technology instead of reading fingerprints, but that seems such a huge change.
Take all these rumors with a grain of salt, of course. But consider that all rumors basically say the iPhone 8 is expected to feature a radically different design from its predecessors, and not having a button might be one of its most significant departures from the iconic iPhone look.