iPhone 7 offers virtual home button in case of physical button's failure

Posted:
in iPhone
As a backup if its non-mechanical home button fails, the iPhone 7 can offer a software button akin to some versions of Android, owners have discovered.









A person on the MacRumors forums drew attention to the feature after encountering trouble with their phone suddenly shutting down. Powering it back on, they were greeted with an unusual "The Home Button May Need Service" pop-up, plus the software button at the bottom of the screen.



Rebooting initially caused the error message to go away, but soon the phone's Taptic Engine was vibrating three or four times in a row for each button press. Rebooting again left the hardware button non-functional.



Every iPhone and iPad to date has favored a physical home button. With Android devices, by contrast, their makers can decide whether or not they want one, the tradeoff being that while eliminating a hardware button shrinks the bottom bezel and reduces chances of failure, keeping it preserves screen space and offers more tactile feedback.



Apple is rumored to be switching to the first route with next year's iPhone model, which could offer an edge-to-edge OLED display. The challenge may be in figuring out things like embedded cameras and sensors, but Apple has already been working on patenting such technology.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Off-topic but important, supposedly iPhone 7 sold out within 15 minutes in Korea!!!
    watto_cobrarepressthispeterhart
  • Reply 2 of 16
    How is this different from AssistiveTouch (which has been around at least since 5.0, in 2011)?

    And, why is it exclusive to the 7 series? Wouldn't it be possible for any iPhone prior to the 7 to have a physical home button failure as well?


    anantksundaramrobertwalterrepressthisDeelronargonaut
  • Reply 3 of 16
    irelandireland Posts: 17,137member
    cali said:
    Off-topic but important, supposedly iPhone 7 sold out within 15 minutes in Korea!!!
    But what does sold out mean? If you make 50 or something and it sells out and if you make 50M of something and it sells out. More importantly you'd need to tell us how many sold last year in the same period in Korea where it was as available as it is now. Everything else is useless to guaging popularity of the device comparatively.
    edited October 2016 robertwalterlolliver
  • Reply 4 of 16
    irelandireland Posts: 17,137member
    How is this different from AssistiveTouch (which has been around at least since 5.0, in 2011)?

    And, why is it exclusive to the 7 series? Wouldn't it be possible for any iPhone prior to the 7 to have a physical home button failure as well?


    It's different because it has only one feature and is there in an emergency. It may be easier for them to tell if a force touch home button has failed in software. I'd like to see this button overlaid in the camera app to see in what manner the button covers the shutter button.
    edited October 2016 repressthislolliver
  • Reply 5 of 16
    How is this different from AssistiveTouch (which has been around at least since 5.0, in 2011)?

    And, why is it exclusive to the 7 series? Wouldn't it be possible for any iPhone prior to the 7 to have a physical home button failure as well?


    I think the real story here isn't so much the software home button since it's been available on iPhones as assistive touch, but rather that the iPhone 7 seems to have a home button self diagnostic feature. 
    sandorcaliredgeminipaairmanchairmanrepressthisDeelronentropyslolliverpscooter63
  • Reply 6 of 16
    I've been waiting for them to ditch the physical button since iPhone 5!  I findnit unnecessary and takes up so much space which could be replaced by a larger screen on the same size phone.
  • Reply 7 of 16
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    How is this different from AssistiveTouch (which has been around at least since 5.0, in 2011)?

    And, why is it exclusive to the 7 series? Wouldn't it be possible for any iPhone prior to the 7 to have a physical home button failure as well?


     It's different because it self diagnoses, auto activates, is only a home button, and most importantly is easier to find than assistive touch because you don't have to find it at all. 

     My home button broke once while I was in an app. How was I supposed to activate assistive touch? A lot of people have trouble finding in the first place and in my case I couldn't get back to the home screen. I had to wait for the iPhone to completely drain its battery and turn it on to get to the settings. 

    ireland said:
    cali said:
    Off-topic but important, supposedly iPhone 7 sold out within 15 minutes in Korea!!!
    But what does sold out mean? If you make 50 or something and it sells out and if you make 50M of something and it sells out. More importantly you'd need to tell us how many sold last year in the same period in Korea where it was as available as it is now. Everything else is useless to guaging popularity of the device comparatively.
     I only read a few sentences of the article because I wanted to save it for today when I have time. But from the little I read it claimed Korean networks were reporting double the sales of iPhone 6s. 

    watto_cobrarepressthisentropys
  • Reply 8 of 16
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,167member
    How is this different from AssistiveTouch (which has been around at least since 5.0, in 2011)?

    And, why is it exclusive to the 7 series? Wouldn't it be possible for any iPhone prior to the 7 to have a physical home button failure as well?



    Its not. that is exactly what is happening. Since the phone is useless without some kind of home trigger, its just turning on that same feature automatically. not 'akin to Android'SaveSave
  • Reply 9 of 16
    tyler82tyler82 Posts: 676member
    cali said:
    How is this different from AssistiveTouch (which has been around at least since 5.0, in 2011)?

    And, why is it exclusive to the 7 series? Wouldn't it be possible for any iPhone prior to the 7 to have a physical home button failure as well?


     It's different because it self diagnoses, auto activates, is only a home button, and most importantly is easier to find than assistive touch because you don't have to find it at all. 

     My home button broke once while I was in an app. How was I supposed to activate assistive touch? A lot of people have trouble finding in the first place and in my case I couldn't get back to the home screen. I had to wait for the iPhone to completely drain its battery and turn it on to get to the settings. 

    ireland said:
    cali said:
    Off-topic but important, supposedly iPhone 7 sold out within 15 minutes in Korea!!!
    But what does sold out mean? If you make 50 or something and it sells out and if you make 50M of something and it sells out. More importantly you'd need to tell us how many sold last year in the same period in Korea where it was as available as it is now. Everything else is useless to guaging popularity of the device comparatively.
     I only read a few sentences of the article because I wanted to save it for today when I have time. But from the little I read it claimed Korean networks were reporting double the sales of iPhone 6s. 

    Couldn't you have held down the power button, slide to shut off the device, turn it back on, slide to unlock, and then go into settings?
  • Reply 10 of 16
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,405member
    Stop commenting against as it's good thing. I have used similar on iphone 4 (through Assistive Touch) when the home button stopped working. Survived using iphone 4 until replaced with iphone 5S. Importantly, may be pointing to future, Home button of the next iphone right under the screen.
    airmanchairman
  • Reply 11 of 16
    Obviously an intermediate stage in the gradual disappearance of the Home Button entirely.

    It may or would have been too disruptive to get rid of both the audio jack and the physical Home button in the same new version, hence the taptic "button". Even Apple have their limitations, lines they won't cross...
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 12 of 16
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,833member
    Sog35, your first dream feature "Virtual Home Button" is coming true...lol.
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 16
    bb-15bb-15 Posts: 171member
    tyler82 said:
    cali said:
     It's different because it self diagnoses, auto activates, is only a home button, and most importantly is easier to find than assistive touch because you don't have to find it at all. 

     My home button broke once while I was in an app. How was I supposed to activate assistive touch? A lot of people have trouble finding in the first place and in my case I couldn't get back to the home screen. I had to wait for the iPhone to completely drain its battery and turn it on to get to the settings. 

    Couldn't you have held down the power button, slide to shut off the device, turn it back on, slide to unlock, and then go into settings?
    That should have worked but maybe the user (call) didn't think of this at that moment of frustration?
  • Reply 14 of 16
    london11 said:
    I've been waiting for them to ditch the physical button since iPhone 5!  I findnit unnecessary and takes up so much space which could be replaced by a larger screen on the same size phone.
    I do not understand how you find the home button unnecessary. It's so commonly used for navigation. It's incredibly intuitive. It's always there, never hidden. Any long time user instinctually, without sight, knows exactly where it's located. The home button is a true icon of industrial design.

    I get that you're not responsible for the seemingly impending decision to remove the home button, but how would you envision the UI to work without a physical home button, with the same amount of steps it takes to use the current physical home button? I feel that if you have to add a step(s) you failed at an important design principle—simplicity.
    edited October 2016 mike1lolliver
  • Reply 15 of 16
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,054member
    sully54 said:
    How is this different from AssistiveTouch (which has been around at least since 5.0, in 2011)?

    And, why is it exclusive to the 7 series? Wouldn't it be possible for any iPhone prior to the 7 to have a physical home button failure as well?


    I think the real story here isn't so much the software home button since it's been available on iPhones as assistive touch, but rather that the iPhone 7 seems to have a home button self diagnostic feature. 
    I had a look over at macrumors and it is all about how this is somehow a sign of failure on Apple's part. Bizarre.

    My my first thought was "wow, they have added a whole subroutine that diagnoses there might be a hardware fault and comes up with a solution that lets you keep using your phone until you can get it serviced. I wonder what other potential faults have this type of diagnostics with workaround. Also, would any other company than Apple bother coming up with a whole process to address something that would happen so rarely?"

    This can only happen the way it does because of the hardware/software ecosystem and the extensive customer service, including stores that are supported by Apple.  Any other company could not do this the way it is done, or would want to because it does not have the depth of customer support. Imagine: an [insert android phone brand here] device if it bothered to tell you what was wrong that required service would have to tell you to send your phone away for service, possibly for a month. More likely it would have nothing to say on the matter.

    i wonder if it is iPhone 7 only or works on other devices with mechanical home buttons?
    edited October 2016 watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 16
    london11 said:
    I've been waiting for them to ditch the physical button since iPhone 5!  I findnit unnecessary and takes up so much space which could be replaced by a larger screen on the same size phone.
    I do not understand how you find the home button unnecessary. It's so commonly used for navigation. It's incredibly intuitive. It's always there, never hidden. Any long time user instinctually, without sight, knows exactly where it's located. The home button is a true icon of industrial design.

    I get that you're not responsible for the seemingly impending decision to remove the home button, but how would you envision the UI to work without a physical home button, with the same amount of steps it takes to use the current physical home button? I feel that if you have to add a step(s) you failed at an important design principle—simplicity.
    It could be moved to the side, like the other buttons... I just feel it takes up way too much space preventing the phone from getting smaller? or having an edge to edge screen perhaps.  They're updating everything else, removing the physical button seems an obvious move to me and it would move the phone forward in terms of design.
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