Monkeys throwing darts at Dolly Parton would have a better record for predicting what Apple will do than what I’ve done for the past dozen years or so. Still, what’s one more prediction among friends, right? Here it is. Goodbye iPhone Home button.
Chin, Meet Forehead
Many barrels of digital ink have been spilled over Apple’s intention to remove the analog headphone jack from the iPhone. Without even an announcement, the very thought of Apple removing something we use in place of something else has caused more hair fires among the technorati elite than the Mac moving to Intel.
Now there’s word that another earth shattering change is coming and it’s one I agree is about time. Say goodbye to the iPhone’s Home button. Yes, 3D Touch works so well already in iPhone 6 and 6s that Apple can do away with what might be the single biggest complaint among users– a dead Home button– and the single biggest iPhone issue among members of the Apple Store Genius Bar tech crew.
The Home button is a physical button. It moves, therefore, it’s subject to breaking, and it may be the single most used button on the device (which might account for all the aforementioned breaking). Apple could put the Home button behind the iPhone’s front screen of glass and make it work by using 3D Touch instead.
Force Touch is a technology… that enables trackpads and touchscreens to distinguish between different levels of force being applied to their surfaces. First unveiled on September 9, 2014 during the Apple Watch conference, Force Touch is a pressure sensitive multi-touch technology. The technology is designed to add another method of input to Apple’s devices.
When I bought my iPhone 6 Plus I thought 3D Touch was interesting, but hardly revolutionary. The features is growing on me, though, and I’m using it more as Apple spreads the technology elsewhere. For example, in iOS 9, 3D Touch enables applications to shed a touch or two off specific functions within the app and that saves time and effort.
The current Home button provides feedback with a gentle click. So does 3D Touch on iPhone and the comparable Force Touch on the Mac’s trackpad without actually having anything move (other than the haptic feedback so you can ‘feel’ that something happened. Moving the Home button up somewhat and removing the iPhone’s headphone jack means the iPhone may not need as much chin or forehead as in current models. The end result might be large screen, but smaller iPhone body.
Uh Oh, Problems
No prognostication of a future product feature is complete without a few problems to overcome. The Home button is a physical button and has multiple, user-definable functions which would need to be enabled in the 3D Touch button or elsewhere. For example, the Home button helps to reset a wonky iPhone. The Home button is also home to Touch ID which scans fingerprints to activate the phone and unlock apps.
See? There’s always a loose wrench to throw into new ideas.
That brings me to another issue. Waterproofing vs. water resistant. They’re not the same, of course, and there are specific standards a device must meet to become waterproof. Samsung’s phones meet some of those standards and claim to be waterproof. Of course, that’s a feature you shouldn’t test too often, but having fewer buttons and holes in the iPhone case would help it go a few steps closer to waterproof certification. But, again, I don’t want to test it even if iPhone 7 has it.
Get ready for change, folks. And say goodbye to the Home button and the headphone jack. How long before the iPhone is nothing but a screen and a case?