According to a report from DigiTimes, Apple is currently developing a new touchscreen that could fully implement both fingerprint sensors and ‘Force Touch’ technologies, meaning the iconic Home button could make way for a larger screen with a ‘virtual home button’ instead.
The source claims that Apple is working in-house on “touch and display driver integration” solutions with integrated fingerprint sensors, and has plans to use the technology to create a future iPhone with no Home button and a “whole plane design”.
Though none of this is official information, Apple did file a patent over a year ago for a “full panel fingerprint sensor” which could acquire multiple fingerprints at once from anywhere on a “display stack” of an electronic device. That would imply the company is at least considering the idea.
Many Android phones already use virtual home and back buttons instead of a physical button on the front of the device. It would certainly be an efficient way to cram a larger screen size into the iPhone without adding physical bulk, but many would mourn the loss of the Home button – an iPhone staple since the first generation device in 2007.
3D visualization artist Martin Hajek has mocked up what a borderless iPhone with no physical home button could look like. It has been considered that Apple could instead use a thinner full-width strip along the bottom of the device for the same functionality as the current Home button, using the new technology.
Even if Apple is trying to figure out how to ditch the physical home button, it will likely be a while until we see the fruits of their work. The upcoming iPhone 6S is likely to be an iterative upgrade, although it’s rumored to include Force Touch capabilities.
Such a big change to the design of Apple’s flagship device is more likely to be part of the iPhone 7, or even 8, if it happens at all. Food for thought.