iPhone 7 with a virtual home button
This latest rumor comes courtesy DigiTimes (and spotted by 9to5 Mac), and it suggests that Apple is working to replace the physical Home button with one that’s actually embedded in the screen. This rumor is one that has reared its ugly head in past years, so it should come as no shock that we’re hearing it again.
According to DigiTimes, Apple is working on single-chip solutions for touch and display driver integration for the iPhone. 9to5 Mac points out that the website doesn’t specifically state that Apple is trying to embed the Home button in the display but adds that it seems like this is what DigiTimes is attempting to describe.
As has been suggested since the company introduced the Touch ID sensor in the iPhone 5S, DigiTimes again indicates that Apple is trying to put the fingerprint scanner right in the display.
Virtual home button not until 2017
Apple Insider reports that its sources also claim that Apple is working on a virtual Home button for the iPhone. However, the website added that we shouldn’t expect to see an embedded Home button until at least 2017, which would mean (probably) the iPhone 7S.
Of course this is still two years away, which means Apple could ditch this plan completely, although it fits in well with the company’s design strategies. Apple is known for its clean-cut, ultra-light and now ultra-thin devices, and removing the physical Home button could make the iPhone even thinner and lighter, suggests Apple Insider.
Apple faces new challenges
The website’s source also said, however, that Apple won’t get rid of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that’s currently being used in its iPhones. That sensor is embedded into the physical Home button, which means in order to keep the same sensor, Apple would have to come up with new technology that could read a fingerprint from somewhere else on the device, like on the touchscreen, which is an idea that has been put forth time and time again. In fact, Apple has filed numerous patents for technology involving scanning a fingerprint through a display, among other things.
Apple Insider also pointed out that such technology may present a real challenge for the company, not only in the tech itself but also in the cost associated with including it in the iPhone.