After notoriously removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, it appears like Apple is heading in the direction of getting rid of another feature on its phones.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple a total of 45 new patents on Tuesday, Oct. 4 with one in particular leading many to assume that its Home Button is the next thing to go.

Apple now holds a patent (No. 9,460,332 to be exact) that would get rid of the popular Home Button and instead feature its fingerprint sensor underneath the smartphone's display.

According to the patent report published by the agency, Apple's patent for its "capacitive fingerprint sensor including an electrostatic lens" would allow for a "full screen face" sans the button.

With the tech inside the glass, this would allow Touch ID to work anywhere on the display of an iOS device.

The patent was first filed by Apple back in 2014, which means that the company has been working on this tech for some time now. Now that the patent was been granted, having Touch ID's fingerprint sensor underneath the display could be a feature seen as early as in the company's next model.

This further fuels rumors that Apple could very well be planning on removing the Home Button for the "iPhone 8." This would make sense since this would bring a major redesign to the iPhone, perfect for its 10th anniversary next year.

The Home Button has been included in iPhones since 2007, with Apple introducing fingerprint sensors in the button to unlock the device for added security in 2013.

Some assumed that Apple would remove the Home Button for the recently launched iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, but clearly it did not hold all its patents just yet. And it seems like a good call since getting rid of it will probably make a major splash for the anticipated next model. Plus, Apple could've been testing the waters by taking one design element away at a time, like we saw with the removal of the headphone jack to go wireless. Loyal Apple fans need baby steps when it comes to big changes.

Then there's always the fact that just because Apple had the patent doesn't necessarily mean it will be ready to release the tech for its next model. Chances are the company will want this feature to work flawlessly, and wouldn't want the innovation to flop.

If successful, removing the Home Button would mean users would have more screen space when it comes to size without Apple having to make the phone bigger.

Customers will just have to wait and see when Apple plans on using the tech.

Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns | Flickr

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