Apple is laying the groundwork to kill the iPhone's home button

The iPhone’s home button isn’t long for this world.

This year, Apple will introduce a new kind of home button on the next iPhone, and it won’t be a physical switch. Instead, it will be pressure sensitive without moving parts, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports. (Think of it as a mix between the regular home button and 3D Touch feature on the iPhone 6s screen.)

But the pressure-sensitive home button is just the first step Apple will take to eliminate the home button all together in future devices.

There are already early reports about what’s in store for 2017’s iPhone, and it sounds like Apple will use the device’s tenth birthday to rebuild everything from the ground up. That includes eliminating the home button and embedding the Touch ID fingerprint sensor into the display, according to an earlier Wall Street Journal report.

By replacing the traditional home button with a sort of non-button in the iPhone 7, Apple will start weaning us off our habit of clicking it to get back to the home screen. Instead, it will all be about training ourselves to use pressure-sensitive gestures, the same way we learned to pinch and zoom on a touch screen nine years ago.

But here’s the rub: So much of the iPhone’s controls depend on clicking the home button. If it’s gone, what will replace it?

My guess is that 3D Touch will become even more important as a navigation tool, letting users do a firm press to zoom back to the home screen from their open apps.

Is that better than the old-fashioned home button? Not necessarily, but it would allow Apple to dramatically change the iPhone’s design, which is starting to feel stale compared to the competition.


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