Will This Be the End of the iPhone Home Button?

While Apple loves to design away buttons and keep things as simple as possible, the Home button takes up a lot of space on the iPhone. But when Apple incorporated Touch ID into the Home button, it looked unlikely that this button would ever be designed away.

It's a shame because competing smartphones are able to use much more of the phone's real estate for the display. The result is either a physically smaller phone with the same screen size as an iPhone or a similarly sized phone with a larger display. Apple's Home button design hasn't changed much since the original iPhone, and though that might be a good thing for user experience, it does pose limitations when designing the next iPhone.

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Touch ID

On the other hand, when you look at the Apple Watch, you see almost the entire screen is usable, and the side button and Digital Crown are pushed to the side. This is possible because of Force Touch. Pressing harder on the screen itself registers as a different action than just tapping the screen. Apple has introduced this feature to the MacBook Trackpad and it's expected to make its way into the rumored iPad Pro. Perhaps Force Touch could eliminate the need for a Home button on the iPhone as well.

But there's still Touch ID. Fortunately, Sonavation has developed a biometric sensor that can read fingerprints from below Corning's Gorilla Glass. This could result in a Touch ID sensor being integrated into a section of the display screen. When combined with Force Touch, the Home button could be replaced and Apple could use the extra space for a larger screen without making a larger device, or make a smaller device but have a larger screen. This technology could also find its way into the Apple Watch, enabling Touch ID on the watch itself, making Apple Pay payments even more secure and making a stolen Apple Watch less useful.

Sonavation

Top image credit: charnsitr / Shutterstock.com

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.