Does the 2017 iPhone need a home button?

hovscorpion12

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 12, 2011
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With the iPhone 6S and 7's 3D touch to enable multi-tasking, is a home button whether software or hardware even needed? With the current "rumor" that Apple is having difficulties embedding the home button under the screen, or having it placed on the back.

I decided to embark in the no home button challenge with my 7 Plus for a month (except for unlocking, since i have touch id set), but i was able to go one month without touching the home button for closing apps, going to the home screen, changing home screen layout and multi-tasking. Touch ID can possibly still be embedded for the lock screen for Apple Pay and unlocking, but disappears. The touch ID sensor uses capacitive touch to detect the user's fingerprint, but does that require hardware to work, or is it something that can be built underneath the glass?

Your thoughts
 
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apolloa

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Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
With the iPhone 6S and 7's 3D touch to enable multi-tasking, is a home button whether software or hardware even needed? With the current "rumor" that Apple is having difficulties embedding the home button under the screen, or having it placed on the back.

I decided to embark in the no home button challenge with my 7 Plus for a month (except for unlocking, since i have touch id set), but i was able to go one month without touching the home button for closing apps, going to the home screen, changing home screen layout and multi-tasking. Touch ID can possibly still be embedded for the lock screen for Apple Pay and unlocking, but disappears. The touch ID sensor uses capacitive touch to detect the user's fingerprint, but does that require hardware to work, or is it something that can be built underneath the glass?

Your thoughts
I'm impressed with your experiment there :) a whole month? Good work. I think 3D Touch is something they could exploit as you've used it, place the Touch ID sensor under the screen, maybe, we'll need to find out if they've done that as no one has cracked it yet. One phone has the sensor with the tech to enable it to work under the screen but even that phone still has the sensor under the glass outside of the screen itself, so still not quite there.
For the sensor to work under a screen it seems to need to use totally different technology to how it works on the iPhone now. But I think Apple were working on there own solution?
 
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Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
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I'm impressed with your experiment there :) a whole month? Good work. I think 3D Touch is something they could exploit as you've used it, place the Touch ID sensor under the screen, maybe, we'll need to find out if they've done that as no one has cracked it yet. One phone has the sensor with the tech to enable it to work under the screen but even that phone still has the sensor under the glass outside of the screen itself, so still not quite there.
For the sensor to work under a screen it seems to need to use totally different technology to how it works on the iPhone now. But I think Apple were working on there own solution?
The technology is already present with 3D Touch and has been since the iPhone 6s. Apple will have to make the changes will where the fingerprint sensor is embedded somewhere in the display and with the assistance of a company called Synaptics.

If you think about it, Wherever you press on the iPhone screen with the 6S/7, it recognizes a tap/firm press, which enables 3D Touch to shortcut to different applications. The Fingerprint sensor will have to be in a place where it recognizes the print through the display. However, if this technology is used with OLED, there might be the potential with "Burn in."
 

apolloa

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The technology is already present with 3D Touch and has been since the iPhone 6s. Apple will have to make the changes will where the fingerprint sensor is embedded somewhere in the display and with the assistance of a company called Synaptics.

If you think about it, Wherever you press on the iPhone screen with the 6S/7, it recognizes a tap/firm press, which enables 3D Touch to shortcut to different applications. The Fingerprint sensor will have to be in a place where it recognizes the print through the display. However, if this technology is used with OLED, there might be the potential with "Burn in."
The technology that Touch ID uses will not work under an OLED screen, it's totally different technology required for that.
 
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recoil80

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Jul 16, 2014
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I use 3D touch a lot to switch between apps, but the home button is still necessary since there isn't an easy way to go to the home screen with a single gesture. What you can do is force tap on the left side, go to the app switcher and swipe to the right to find it, slower than pressing a button.
They could introduce a new gesture, i.e. force touch on the bottom of the screen, to emulate the press of home button. We'd still miss double tap to enable reachability though.
 

niji

Contributor
Feb 9, 2003
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hokkaido
The physical button on models through the current ones ALWAYS help me orient the phone.
Before I buy into the iPhone 8 virtual button hype I really want to know how/if you can orient it by just handling it.
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
The technology is already present with 3D Touch and has been since the iPhone 6s.
In the iPhone, 3D Touch consists of a grid of 8 x 12 rather large capacitive strain sensors laid out behind the display. All it can see is how much pressure there is in a general region. It couldn't possibly be used for fingerprint recognition.

Apple will have to make the changes will where the fingerprint sensor is embedded somewhere in the display and with the assistance of a company called Synaptics.
Synaptics made an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor for use under a bare glass bezel section... not behind display circuitry.

Judging from some of their patents, an Apple in-display fingerprint sensor would likely be more about embedding high resolution capacitive touch sensors between pixels, probably in a relatively small region to start with.

The Fingerprint sensor will have to be in a place where it recognizes the print through the display. However, if this technology is used with OLED, there might be the potential with "Burn in."
If you mean that the default power on screen would constantly show a virtual sensor area, then any display tech could have burn-in. But making it a pulsating, slightly moving thin circle should help with that.
 
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Kjung7

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Jan 18, 2013
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I thought OLED panels could be shaped uniquely. If this is the case couldn't Apple just make a cutout for the home button?
 

Vanilla35

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Apr 11, 2013
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Synaptics made an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor for use under a bare glass bezel section... not behind display circuitry.

Judging from some of their patents, an Apple in-display fingerprint sensor would likely be more about embedding high resolution capacitive touch sensors between pixels, probably in a relatively small region to start with.
That means their fingerprint scanner will be at the bottom, in a "further developed" home button area. The haptic button will disappear and simply be bare glass, from where your fingerprint can be read. So it will essentially be the same thing we have now, but the solid state button will be smooth glass instead.

Kinda lame, I was hoping we could unlock by printing the middle of the screen. We're still confined to the bottom, which means it's essentially the same as it's always been.
[doublepost=1496088907][/doublepost]A bit of a stretch from here, but that means in-display touch ID is coming in iPhone 2020 lol.
 

lyceumHQ

macrumors 65816
Aug 4, 2010
1,125
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I always mean to try and use 3D Touch but never really did.

I wouldn't even know how to use it to switch apps etc so for me the home button is essential. But if they don't incorporate it somewhere I'm sure I'll adapt.
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
Kinda lame, I was hoping we could unlock by printing the middle of the screen. We're still confined to the bottom, which means it's essentially the same as it's always been.
Apple has also filed patents for placing near infrared sensors throughout the entire display. Or they could do the same with capacitive. Production yield is the limiting factor.

Perhaps they'll start out with a small area at first and expand later?
 

Vanilla35

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Apr 11, 2013
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Apple has also filed patents for placing near infrared sensors throughout the entire display. Or they could do the same with capacitive. Production yield is the limiting factor.

Perhaps they'll start out with a small area at first and expand later?
Yeah they'll definitely be constraining it to the bottom area, and then eventually be going to full display. After reading your thoughts on the technical limitations it makes perfect sense. Rumors have been reporting the bottom area of the OLED screen will be designated for home bar/button area use, only. I didn't realize the limitation was in the actual Synaptics product itself though, as several rumors also point to screen embedding as their potential reach. Like many years though, that is likely being worked on for the following iPhone, and so it's being confused with possibly being incorporated into this year's phone. Same like they did for the OLED iPhone features that were expected for the iPhone 7.

Also lines up with Apple of late. Funny to see them almost take 3 generations to make the switch from normal home button to display only, but I suppose it couldn't have been any smoother.
 

pika2000

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Jun 22, 2007
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I have the 6S, and 3D touch is not that great to switch apps. The tech might be better on the iPhone 7, for for now, I still use the home button to initiate the task switcher.
 

Vanilla35

macrumors 68040
Apr 11, 2013
3,320
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Washington D.C.
I have the 6S, and 3D touch is not that great to switch apps. The tech might be better on the iPhone 7, for for now, I still use the home button to initiate the task switcher.
I doubt it's going to get much better, probably just going to need to get used to it. I'll wait to see if iOS 11 is any different than what I assume will be another minor update, but I'll hold my tongue.
 
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