Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8 will undeniably represent the biggest change to the iPhone form factor we’ve ever seen. According to reports, the venerable home button — a mainstay on the iPhone since the original was introduced back in 2007 — will be tossed aside to make room for an edgeless OLED display. And though Apple initially tried to embed its Touch ID sensor underneath the display itself, those plans were ultimately abandoned due to yield issues Apple wasn’t able to overcome.
With the home button being kicked to the curb, Apple will reportedly implement a number of new software-based gestures that will enable iPhone 8 users to return to the home screen and activate the multitasking pane. Of course, the iPhone home button was impressively versatile and was also used as a means for users to quickly activate Siri. With the home button on its way out, you might naturally be wondering how iPhone 8 users will be able to call Siri into action, the “Hey Siri” command notwithstanding.
Well, iOS developer Guilherme Rambo recently unearthed code — presumably from Apple’s inadvertent HomePod firmware release — which suggests that users may be able to invoke Siri by holding down the iPhone 8 lock button in a particular manner.
This is intriguing, but also raises a number of usability issues. First and foremost, invoking Siri via the lock button would have to be sufficiently different from current lock button actions used to put the iPhone to sleep or shut it down entirely.
All that said, it’s worth noting that the code Rambo is looking at — assuming it’s the HomePod firmware — is possibly months old and may include gestures and source code that will not ultimately appear in the final iPhone 8 design.
On a related note, Bloomberg last week published a slew of interesting details regarding some of the new gestures Apple is adding to iOS 11 to replace the home button.
“Across the bottom of the screen there’s a thin, software bar in lieu of the home button,” the report reads in part. “A user can drag it up to the middle of the screen to open the phone. When inside an app, a similar gesture starts multitasking. From here, users can continue to flick upwards to close the app and go back to the home screen.”
In light of that, some visualizations which purport to illustrate how these gestures will look and feel surfaced just a few days ago
All that said, it’s becoming apparent that iOS 11 will usher in a number of sweeping changes to the way we interact with iOS devices. The good news is that we won’t have to wait much longer to see what the future of the iPhone looks like. Apple last week sent out invitations to a special media event set to take place at the company’s new spaceship campus on September 12. In addition to new iPhones, it’s widely believed that Apple will also introduce a new iteration of the Apple Watch and a revamped Apple TV with support for 4K streaming.