On iPad 2, iPhone Sans Home Button

January 13, 2011

What with Verizon iPhone announced, rumors shift to iPad 2, and an amusing one is the removal of the familiar “home” button.

After an initial, negative knee-jerk reaction, it makes sense after further thought. It would help toward making the iPad / iPhone truly orientation-agnostic. After watching a video in landscape mode or pulling the iPhone from a pocket, there’s often a moment of confusion remembering which side has the home button. The iPhone is a little trickier as the ear piece and microphone dictate a proper orientation when making phone calls. But I would imagine Apple putting some effort toward making both devices work no matter which way they’re held. This could mean dropping all the hardware buttons and multiple speakers / microphones.

Touch screens and gestures would converge functionality with the Mac. With the MacBook Air and the Magic Trackpad, am getting quite used to the three finger swipe to go forward / back in Safari, and a four finger swipe down for Expose. Bring some of those gestures to the iPad / iPhone, make them work similarly across devices.

Imagine a future, wafer-thin iPad, half aluminum slab and half glass touch screen, no buttons anywhere, and completely orientation-agnostic – it would adjust no matter which side you designate as “up.” Totally makes sense knowing Apple’s minimalist design aesthetic.

This future is a ways away however. I don’t see the home button vanishing with iPad 2 or iPhone 5 – but I do believe it will eventually happen. iPad 3 or iPhone 6 at soonest.