Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 30th Aug 2017 19:19 UTC

Mark Gurman has a major scoop about the next iPhone:

Apple Inc. plans to transform the way people use its next high-end iPhone by eliminating the concept of a home button and making other adjustments to a flagship device that's becoming almost all screen, according to images of the new device viewed by Bloomberg News and people familiar with the gadget.

The home button is the key to the iPhone and the design hasn't changed much since it launched in 2007. Currently, users click it to return to the starting app grid that greets them multiple times a day. They hold it down to talk to the Siri digital assistant. Double click it and you get multitasking where different apps screens can be swiped through like a carousel.

Apple is preparing three new iPhones for debut next month. One of the models, a new high-end device, packs in enough changes to make it one of the biggest iPhone updates in the product's decade-long history. With a crisper screen that takes up nearly the entire front, Apple has tested the complete removal of the home button - even a digital one - in favor of new gesture controls for tasks like going to the main app grid and opening multitasking, according to the people and the images.

I don't really dwell too much on iPhone rumours, but this one is an exception because one, it's about a major change to the core user interaction model of iOS and the iPhone, and two, I happen to know this rumour happens to be accurate.

The removal of the home button and replacing it with what is effectively a gesture area is probably the single-biggest user interface change in iOS since the day it was released, and it also happens to be yet another step in the enduring quest Android and iOS are on to become more like webOS. Steven-Troughton-Smith (go support his work!) showed a number of mockups to give a better idea of what it's going to look like.

Replacing the iconic home button with a gesture area is actually a pretty fundamental shift in the interaction model of iOS. It seems to indicate that Apple is confident enough that users are well-versed in touch interfaces enough to start "hiding" important, crucial interactions - like going back to the homescreen - behind gestures that are clearly less discoverable than that huge home button. Google did something similar - but far less consequential - by removing the "drawer" button in Android's dock with a swipe-up gesture.

If this trend persists, it would seem Apple's (and to a lesser extent, Google's) engineers think that the touch paradigm is old and established enough to be more abstract, which opens up a whole slew of other possibilities. Up until now, undiscoverable gestures were generally used for more power-user oriented interactions, but with this next iPhone, they will be used for basic, cornerstone iOS interactions.

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i will miss the home button then...
by sergio on Wed 30th Aug 2017 22:37 UTC
Member since:

I like to have a physical thing to press, it gives certainty and feedback to the user, it's simple and intuitive. Removing it will be a huge mistake imho.

PS: Yeah I know iPhone7's home button is not physical and blah blah, but it works and behaves like a physical one.

Reply Score: 9

Carewolf Member since:

Well, it was a lot less intuitive after Apple has forced 6 completely different functions on to it. It was already a very abstract gesture button, by making it a touch screen button, they can now make it more reliable and discoverable again, and maybe, maybe, if you are lucky open the way for having a true back button down there next to it.

Reply Parent Score: 3

sergio Member since:

Well... I'm a pretty advanced user and I just know 2 home button functions... btw you can use any iDevice knowing only one of of them!

So I think the home button is super intuitive and makes iOS the most user friendly OS ever created, miles ahead of Android, MacOS or Windows.

Edited 2017-08-31 06:21 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

WorknMan Member since:

Well, it was a lot less intuitive after Apple has forced 6 completely different functions on to it.

You don't have to use them all though. It was easy to explain to my 70yo mother, 'If you get lost, just press this button to get back to the home screen.'

Reply Parent Score: 2