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Is Apple about to give the iPhone 7 a brand new Home button?

The forthcoming iPhone 7 is now expected to included a Home button that utilizes Force Touch style technology. The result will be a technical removal of a physical Home button, and the installation of a software-operated function.

The news was first reported via an anonymous tip on 9to5Mac but has since been further reported by notable analysts on Business Insider.

BI cites analysts at Cowen and Company, who believe the iPhone 7 will have a “Force Touch home button,” citing “field checks” to back up its research.

In 2015 Apple added Force Touch technology to the trackpad on its new range of MacBooks. This removed the physical ‘push’ or click on the trackpad, and instead used what’s known as ‘haptic feedback’ to simulate the feel of a click. In reality, the trackpad hasn’t actually moved at all.

The idea is this kind of software approach is far more desirable when it comes to durability; physical moving parts are more likely to break.

The iPhone received 3D Touch technology – an almost identical concept to Force Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus and allowed users far more control over their device, including using long-presses on the screen to launch ‘Quick Actions’ [More: Learn how to use Quick Actions on the iPhone] – meaning users could open the front facing Camera directly from the Home Screen. The idea of including this kind of technology underneath the Home button is that it will increase durability. Genius bars have reported the Home button as a key failure point on the iPhone.

Read more: Guide – How to ‘peek’ and ‘pop’ with 3D Touch

But is that it? Possibly not. Others believe that this is the first step towards the 2017 iPhone – the generation after the iPhone 7 – which has already been rumored to be a far bigger update than this year’s model, signaling a shift from Apple towards a three-year redesign cycle.

It could in fact pave the way for the removal of the Home button entirely in the future. Building the technology underneath that doesn’t require a physical mechanism could make the presence of a physical button altogether redundant in future.

It’s also expected the iPhone 7 will lose its 3.5mm headphone jack, while further afield rumors that may also wait until the following model, including the waterproofing of the iPhone. Both this new Home button and losing the headphone jack would help in achieving this.

Read all our iPhone 7 coverage here