Apple might be about to remove its headphone jack, prompting anger and fear around the world. But far more important, and less speculated on, is the removal of the home button – a change that probably signals the future of phones.
Apple has long been rumoured to be getting rid of the small button that sits at the bottom of the phone. It’s traditionally been one of very few buttons on the phone, and is used for everything from activating Siri to logging in.
There will still be what appears to be a button sitting in that location on the iPhone 7. But it won’t be real – instead the phone is going to use vibrations and other tricks to make people think they’re pressing something, according to reports.
As such, it will follow a trend set by Apple products like the MacBook, which has a trackpad that feels like it clicks but actually doesn’t. Instead, a complex system of magnets provide a little buzz that’s indistinct from a click for the person pressing it.
It will be in keeping with iOS 10, which will launch alongside the new phone and makes several changes to the way the home button is used. Most importantly, it doesn’t need to be pressed any more to open up the home screen – meaning that people might not even need to use the new, tricky button.
The change is important because it will get Apple ready for what’s rumoured to be a very innovative iPhone 8. That phone is said to look entirely different to the ones that have gone before, and requires getting rid of the headphone jack to get to it.
The 2017 iPhone will do away entirely with the bezel that goes around the side and the bottom of the handset, according to leaks. Instead, the whole front of the phone will be one big screen.
It’s also probably a sign of things to come. Like with getting rid of the headphone jack, Apple appears to be on a mission to eradicate all real buttons and complicating things on the outside of the phone – probably meaning that the ones that put the phone to sleep and change its volume will find their days are numbered, too.
The home button hasn’t just been present since the beginning of the phone. It’s also been the only bit of detail that’s visible on the front – the small circle, and the square that sat inside it until the fingerprint sensor was added – have been a central part of pictures of the phone since it was launched.
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