Folks at Boy Genius Report are claiming that according to their source, Apple is planning to remove the home button from the iPhone and iPad.
We have exclusively been told that the reason Apple just added multitouch gestures for the iPad in the latest iOS 4.3 beta is because the iPad will be losing the home button. Yes, we are told that Apple, at some point in time, will remove the home button from the iPad’s design. Instead of button taps, you will use new multitouch gestures to navigate to the home screen and also to launch the app switcher.
That’s not all, however. In addition to the home button disappearing from the iPad, we’re told that this change will make its way over to the iPhone as well. Our source said Apple employees are already testing iPads and iPhones with no home buttons on the Apple campus, and it’s possible we will see this new change materialize with the next-generation iPad and iPhone devices set to launch this year.
You can checkout the video of the new multitouch gestures introduced in iOS 4.3 to get an idea:
BGR has also published mockups of iPad and iPhone without the home button:
John Gruber of Daring Fireball who has a good track record when it comes to Apple related rumors doesn’t expect Apple to remove the home button as it will result in serious discoverability issues for new users. He argues:
These gestures do mean that you don’t have to use the Home button. But there’s a serious discoverability problem with them. The physical Home button is impossible to miss. That it is the one and only button on the faces of these devices is a big part of why normal people are able to pick them up, start playing with them, and figure out how to get around with no help. How in the world would a normal person figure out or guess that they need to do a “five-finger pinch” to get back to the home screen?
Though the idea of using multitouch gestures to get rid of the home button sounds pretty cool, I tend to agree with Gruber’s argument.
It probably makes sense for the iPad (if we ignore the discoverability problem) as you usually hold it with two hands but in case of the iPhone, you tend to use it with one hand, in which case the home button is quite handy and the iPhone’s small screen would also be small for a five-finger gesture.
What do you think? Please share your views in the comments section below.[via BGR, Daring Fireball]