While many Android smartphones nowadays have touch-sensitive keys, Apple is favouring a physical home button since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. But the iPhone 7 is likely to be the first iPhone model to ditch that iconic physical home button and replace it with a 3D Touch-equipped key.
A new patent filing has been surfaced online that suggests the presence of an all-new touch-sensitive home button on the next-generation iPhone model. Using the same 3D Touch technology that debuted on the iPhone 6s models last year, the new home button would replace the existing physical button but will include a fingerprint sensor to enable Touch ID features. “A resistive element having a mechanically resistive force can be disposed to resist the depression or movement of the input device. One or more electrodes can be disposed to provide a measure of capacitance based on the depression of the input device,” reads the abstract of the patent application.
The patent application, filed in March 2013 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), additionally reveals that the new home button will enable a touchpad-like functionality. This new feature means that you could be able to control the typing cursor on your future iPhone or iPad by directly touching the home button, somewhere similar to the trackpad on some BlackBerry smartphones.
In addition to touch inputs, the new home button is designed with a built-in fingerprint sensor that would retain the security on Apple devices through its patented Touch ID technology. The sensor would help consumers use Apple Pay and other secured services on their iPhone and iPad models.
Apple developed Force Touch technology for the Apple Watch that transformed into 3D Touch for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. But now, the Cupertino giant is apparently using the same technology for making the new home button. This button would have mutual and self-capacitance with elastomer, active button trim, functional plates and directional force sensors that all get activate with a touch of a finger.
New technology to address issues of the old one
The development of the new technology would address the issues that occurred through the physical button. Moreover, this new addition is likely to bring Apple devices closer to Android ones.
As the patent was filed in 2013, the Apple iPhone 7 is expected to be the first iPhone model to feature the touch-sensitive home button. Apple may soon tweak iOS to get responses from the new technology.
In an earlier report, it was found that Apple is looking to replace the existing 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7 with its proprietary Lightning connector. This could help design the new iPhone with a waterproof build that would be thinner than the current iPhone lineup.
All this suggests that the iPhone 7 would have some significant changes from the past iPhone models. However, we need to wait for the final version to comment on its success.
- Instagram for iOS gets 3D Touch support for new iPhones
- Apple iPhone 7 to have waterproof built: TrendForce
- Apple iPhone sales grow marginally, while iPad and Mac sales decline in Q1 2016
- Apple iPhone 7 may replace 3.5mm headphone jack with Lightning connector
- iPhone 5s price cut in India brings challenges for OnePlus 2 and Nexus 5X