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The release of the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max saw the introduction of an entirely new user-configurable button known as the Action button, and now, MacRumors has seen extensive evidence confirming Apple is planning to include the Action button on the entire iPhone 16 range.

iPhone-16-Mock-Header-Updated-1.jpg

Designs and plans for the Action button date back to at least 2021, as the button was intended for release alongside haptic volume and power buttons on the iPhone 15 Pro. While the haptic volume and power buttons were abruptly canceled due to unresolved technical issues, the Action button remained, eventually making its way onto final mass production units of the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.

On the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, the Action button replaces the mute switch previously found on all iPhone models. Unlike the mute switch, which only served a singular purpose, the Action button provides iPhone users with a variety of uses. It can be configured to perform a range of functions, such as:

  • Silent Mode: Toggle silent mode, which mutes/unmutes the ringer and alerts much like the Ringer switch on older iPhone models.
  • Flashlight: Turn the iPhone's flashlight function on or off.
  • Camera: Launch the Camera app to your choice of photo, selfie, video, portrait, or portrait selfie mode.
  • Shortcuts: Open a shortcut from the Shortcuts app, allowing for a range of powerful functions.
  • Voice Memo: Start or stop recording a voice memo.
  • Focus: Enable or disable a specific Focus mode.
  • Accessibility features: Enable or disable any of a variety of accessibility features and settings for users with impaired vision or hearing.
  • Magnifier: Use your iPhone's camera as a magnifying glass through the Magnfier app.
  • Translate (coming in iOS 17.2): Quickly translate speech between two languages.

With the iPhone 16 lineup, Apple plans to add even more functionality to the Action button by changing the button from mechanical to a capacitive-type button. The revamped Action button, developed under the codename Atlas, is expected to function similarly to the Touch ID Home button on older iPhone models, or the Force Touch trackpad on found on more recent MacBooks.

According to internal documentation, the updated Action button will feature a force sensor, which detects changes in pressure, as well as "tact-switching functionality," although exactly what the latter entails is currently unclear. The new "Capture" button planned for the iPhone 16 lineup is also set to include the same functionality as the improved Action button.

As with the iPhone 15 Pro, even the earliest known designs and prototypes of the base model iPhone 16 featured an Action button. The presence of the Action button has remained constant across different development stages and even different hardware configurations.

Apple has also experimented with different sizes for the Action button, with certain hardware configurations featuring an Action button larger than the one currently found on the iPhone 15 Pro, and more closely resembling the volume buttons in size. The Action button has been seen on multiple iPhone 16 prototype units, and has also appeared in internal documentation related to the new devices.

The Action button is also set to appear on the next iteration of the budget-oriented iPhone SE fourth-generation reportedly planned for a 2025 launch, thereby effectively eliminating the dedicated mute switch from all future iPhones currently in development.

While it remains unlikely that Apple's plans will change, it is important to consider that the information presented here is pre-production information, and may not necessarily reflect what eventually ships on mass production units as we are still many months away from finalized hardware designs.

For more details on what to expect, check out our dedicated iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro roundups.


Article Link: iPhone 16 to Include Action Button Across Entire Lineup
 

magicschoolbus

macrumors 68020
May 27, 2014
2,450
7,932
Meh. I have the 14 pro and honestly the biggest feature I purchased it for is barely utilized. I thought live activities would be this groundbreaking feature and they never really took off to take advantage of the AOD.

Not sure if there’s a reason to upgrade if Apple and developers are not going to double down on these features. It feels like a missed opportunity.
 

sw1tcher

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
5,132
16,883
Meh. I have the 14 pro and honestly the biggest feature I purchased it for is barely utilized. I thought live activities would be this groundbreaking feature and they never really took off to take advantage of the AOD.

Not sure if there’s a reason to upgrade if Apple and developers are not going to double down on these features. It feels like a missed opportunity.
Dynamic island and live activities is to the iPhone what the Touch Bar was for the MacBook Pro.
 

zakarhino

Contributor
Sep 13, 2014
2,435
6,555
I still think Apple have plans for the Action Button to become the preferred method of activating some new iOS/Siri/AR feature. I don't think they added it just to be a programmable button and that's it. The programmable stuff is a precursor to something a lot more bold.
 

defunder

macrumors member
Jun 5, 2017
58
134
3 thoughts re: the Action Button.

Each key on the left should be customizable. I would like the Volume Down button to be the Action Button because half the time I use it (for Camera), my hand is in the picture.

I honestly would have preferred the Action Button below the Volume Down button.

Last, putting a piece of grip tape over the Volume Up button, has helped me confuse the buttons much less. Wish Apple would add something to make them distinguishable. And no, the smaller size Action Button does not help, especially when rushing to take a photo.
 

anson42

Contributor
Mar 13, 2014
1,064
979
Oakland, CA
Dynamic island and live activities is to the iPhone what the Touch Bar was for the MacBook Pro.
Dynamic Island I use all the time to access background activities like music and calls and as I use Uber/Lyft I do use live activities but not every day. Unlike Touch Bar that I didn't use as much.
 
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anson42

Contributor
Mar 13, 2014
1,064
979
Oakland, CA
This isn’t really a rumour, it was obvious and expected they would do this. And most people will still use it as a mute switch anyway.
I'm definitely using it as a mute switch but that's mostly because I haven't tried using it for something else. Initially I thought the action button was going to be where taking photos would be moved to but thank goodness the volume up button is still good for that.
 
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TechRemarker

macrumors 6502
Jun 17, 2009
498
617
There is so much I’d love to use the action button for but constantly endowing up preferring it as a camera button. For a while tried as a shortcut button with a selection for a camera but ultimately decided best as a dedicated camera capture button. So hoping next year we do get a dedicated capture button for camera and then can customize the action button for other things especially if like the power button can assign different things based on a press, double press or hold.
 
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anson42

Contributor
Mar 13, 2014
1,064
979
Oakland, CA
There is so much I’d love to use the action button for but constantly endowing up preferring it as a camera button. For a while tried as a shortcut button with a selection for a camera but ultimately decided best as a dedicated camera capture button. So hoping next year we do get a dedicated capture button for camera and then can customize the action button for other things especially if like the power button can assign different things based on a press, double press or hold.
I've been using the volume up button for camera capture for years. Wouldn't that free up the action button for you for something else?
 
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