Source: First iPhone without home button on Apple's roadmap, but not before 2017

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 2015
Apple is indeed working on a radical iPhone redesign that will ditch the home button, AppleInsider has learned, but consumers shouldn't expect to see such a drastic change to the company's handset within the next few years.


Button-less iPhone concept via Martin Hajek.


A source who in the past has correctly shared information about Apple's future product plans indicated on Monday that Apple is indeed planning on removing the home button from future iPhone hardware. But they cautioned that such a change will not arrive within the next two years, leaving it as a long-term goal for the company.

Much could change between now and then, including the effort being scrapped entirely. But it's easy to see why Apple would be pursuing a button-less bezel, as ditching the iPhone home button could allow for smaller and lighter handsets with an even more simple aesthetic.

Apple would not, however, ditch the secure Touch ID fingerprint scanner found on its current iPhones, which is embedded into the home button. For that reason, it would have to develop new technology that would read a user's fingerprint from elsewhere on the device, such as on the touchscreen itself.


Button-less iPhone concept via Martin Hajek.


That's exactly what Apple is planning to do, according to a rumor that surfaced earlier Monday out of the Far East. Specifically, it was said that Apple is developing touch and display driver integration single-chip solutions for future iPhones that would include a fingerprint sensor in the handset's display.

AppleInsider's own source reaffirmed that information, indicating that the company would like to remove the physical home button, but also suggesting that doing so presents technical challenges for the company. It's likely that finding a way to seamlessly integrate Touch ID into the iPhone's display remains a stumbling block for Apple, whether in terms of cost or just the limitations of currently available technology.

Apple's interest in moving fingerprint recognition to the display of an iPhone or iPad is not exactly a secret --?the company has filed multiple patents in which it has described ways of accomplishing this. One filing from this February described a system that could capture multiple fingerprints at once, offering more enhanced security.




What remains unknown is exactly how Apple might address the absence of the home button, which is currently crucial for a number of functions beyond Touch ID, including returning to the home screen, waking the display, and accessing the iOS quick app switcher.

New input methods could be introduced that would replace the home button, such as the pressure sensitive Force Touch capabilities currently available on the Apple Watch and latest MacBooks. AppleInsider's own sources indicated back in February that this year's iPhone upgrade is expected to introduce Force Touch for new input methods, though obviously the home button will remain.

In a simpler solution, Android phones have ditched dedicated buttons by introducing digital input options at the bottom of the touchscreen, something Apple could certainly do with a virtual home button. There are also gestures and multi-touch, which Apple already utilizes on the iPad, with four- and five-finger gestures for returning to the home screen and switching between apps.

As for waking the screen, the recently released Apple Watch has a tap to wake function that illuminates the display with a simple tap. And with current hardware, the iPhone screen also illuminates when the lock button is pressed.

Ditching the home button does pose a risk for Apple, though, in potentially axing the ease of use of the iPhone. One of the hallmark achievements of the iconic device is the single button on its face, which allows new users to quickly become accustomed to using their iPhone. A new iPhone without a persistent hardware button might not be as user friendly for some.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    Rumors like this is how Samsung and other competitors get the jump on Apple with their crappy versions.

    See smart watches.
  • Reply 2 of 77
    The entre front is a screen if it's buttonless.
  • Reply 3 of 77
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,018member

    Now, it looks almost like Samsung Galaxy with that rendering.

  • Reply 4 of 77
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,018member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacHarry de View Post



    The entre front is a screen if it's buttonless.

    Also, without the ports, microphone and speakers because those need space for hardware inserts.

  • Reply 5 of 77
    ... And invisible back. Haha
  • Reply 6 of 77
    waterrocketswaterrockets Posts: 1,231member

    I didn't realize my phone (Moto X) is radical.

  • Reply 7 of 77
    uraharaurahara Posts: 521member
    BS
  • Reply 8 of 77
    jason98jason98 Posts: 766member
    No Home button -> more screen estate -> smaller form factor!
    I've been waiting for this for many years. Seems like the tech is almost here.
  • Reply 9 of 77
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    I am not so keen of replacing a physical home button with a new pair of gestures.

    I see my dad making regular use of the home button whenever he feels lost. Why change it with something more complex/obscure?
  • Reply 10 of 77
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,503member
    In technology evolution, this may be one next change but lot more can happen/change in-between. So, nothing is sure until it really get announced.
  • Reply 11 of 77
    The haptic click of the new MacBooks are one possible way to do this to provide a tactile feedback but then you run in to the same issues as you do with Force touch on the Apple Watch, it is not self evident that there is a button there so it's not any easier as you have to train your mind to accept that.
  • Reply 12 of 77
    aquaticaquatic Posts: 5,602member
    I hate touchscreens. Haaate. I have a Note 3 because buttons. I wish it had a slider keyboard. If I had an iPhone this news would make me froth at the mouth.
  • Reply 13 of 77
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,800member
    Perhaps Apple will bring force click to the whole screen!
  • Reply 14 of 77
    fallenjt wrote: »
    Now, it looks almost like Samsung Galaxy with that rendering.

    Haha! Now who's the copycat! Haha! Oh wait, that would mean I would have to admit Samsung was copying Apple before...must rewrite history.
  • Reply 15 of 77
    nizzardnizzard Posts: 29member

    God, I HOPE they make the entire touch screen an actual button, like the BlackBerry.

  • Reply 16 of 77
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,949member
    2017 could be the first year for this. Beside the time required to get his to actually work, that's the year for a new case, screen, etc.

    But whether they will do this is something else.
  • Reply 17 of 77
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,908member
    Haha! Now who's the copycat! Haha! Oh wait, that would mean I would have to admit Samsung was copying Apple before...must rewrite history.

    The creators of the Big Brother Society would be going nuts right now trying to write and write history over and over again on who did what when.
  • Reply 18 of 77
    adrayvenadrayven Posts: 460member
    We knew this last year.. You know, when the far east said that Apple was working on fingerprint tech in the screen..

    Oh wait.. yeah.. same THING..
  • Reply 19 of 77
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,251member
    sebasaint wrote: »
    Rumors like this is how Samsung and other competitors get the jump on Apple with their crappy versions.

    See smart watches.

    Which is why I have long advocated Apple should have a secret Ministry of Deception that leaks fake stuff ... maybe they already do ...! :D
  • Reply 20 of 77
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,244member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by fallenjt View Post

     

    Now, it looks almost like Samsung Galaxy with that rendering.


     

    Ya, I don't like it!  Keep the iPhone button.  It's one of the things that make a iPhone a iPhone!!!  It's used for a number of things and so crappy screen thing will ever be a better replacement.   Besides it gives me a place to hold on the bottom and still be able to use my iPhone one handed for the most part.  If it was gone and it was all screen,It would turn into a 2 handed phone.

     

    Everyone can recognize a iPhone because of the home button.  I hope it never goes away.

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