NetworkWorld reports via Boy Genius Report that Apple is considering abandoning the home button from the next-gen iPad and iPhone. Interestingly enough, the recently released build of the iOS 4.3 beta includes new multitouch gesture support enabling users to “one of which is the ability to use a four or five finger pinch to go back to the homescreen.”
We all know how Steve Jobs feels about buttons, but it’s hard to envision why Apple would ever do away with it for a variety of reasons.
The home button on the iPhone and iPad is conspicuous yet blends seamlessly into the device. More importantly, its functionality extends beyond that of a portal used solely when one wants to jet back to a device’s homescreen. Take multitasking, for example.
The video above, however, reveals a multi-finger swipe up gesture which works to bring up the multitasking pane. So while iOS 4.3 may have a gesture in place to account for every possible home button function, why change something that users are already so familiar with? Multitouch gestures are great, but the home button provides a visible way for new users to navigate and use their iOS devices without first having to learn non-obvious gestures that, truth be told, only the geeks among us are familiar with right off the bat.
The lack of a home button would also impede one-handed iPhone use, and as many commenters have pointed out, sometimes the multitouch screen becomes non responsive during a system crash and a hard reset is the only way to get back to the homepage.
All that said, we’ll take this report with a grain of salt. Multitouch is great, but Apple seems too smart to abandon the home button altogether.