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How the Apple Watch is preparing us for an iPhone without a home button

Michael Simon | June 29, 2015
It's come a long way since its humble beginnings, but the iPhone has yet to go through a truly radical transformation. While the iPhone 6 was certainly a significant upgrade from the 5s, each biannual revision has mostly brought expected design changes--larger screens, higher resolutions, thinner chassis--and for the most part, the iPhone hasn't strayed too far from its original concept.

On the Apple Watch, Force Touch is like a right-click, offering options that would be clunky to access via menus. The potential on iPhone is even bigger. While an SDK would blow the doors off what developers can do, even at a basic system level, Force Touch could radically change how you navigate iOS.

Instead of double-tapping the home button to enter the multitasker, a hard press could initiate the same command, letting you switch apps without changing your grip. Or maybe Siri could be summoned via a forceful touch on the screen, making it more accessible. Currently, Siri acts as a separate app, but incorporating it into the task you're working on--letting you perform searches or dictate text within an app--would make more sense.

Button down

While DigiTimes isn't a reliable source of rumors, getting rid of its largest button does seem like a natural progression for the iPhone. There was a time when a home-button-less iPhone would be a fantastical notion, a pie-in-the-sky concept that looks great but ultimately would confuse more than simplify.

But the Apple Watch changed my thinking. Moving to a wrist-sized screen has enabled Apple to think beyond the conventional navigation and operation, and it won't take long for that mentality to make its way to iOS. We're already seeing signs of major changes with the iPad's gesture-based multitasking and the new smart search window, and the idea of an iPhone 7 without a physical home button doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore.

Besides, I never expected Apple to replace all of the ports on the MacBook with a single USB-C connector either.


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