June 24, 2015 -
Apple is currently developing a new iPhone design that features a new advanced chip for its multitouch displays that “will also come with integrated fingerprint sensors”, potentially replacing the home button, according to a DigiTimes report that cites sources in Taiwan’s integrated circuit industry.
In a separate report, the Business Insider states that DigiTimes historically has a “bumpy track record when it comes to reporting on Apple’s future iPhone plans”.
And while the Business Insider report admits that the buttonless iPhone does make sense based on previous rumors of Apple’s plans to get rid of the Home button, which first began to surface in 2011, it emphasizes that it “should also be taken with a rather large grain of salt.”
Recent iPhones feature a physical home button that operates as a menu button and contains Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
If the rumors are true and Apple is, in fact, integrating its fingerprint technology onto the same chip as the iPhone’s multitouch display, it could offer a virtual home button and completely eliminate the need for bezels, making room for a display that could cover the entire front side of the phone.
If Apple is successful in developing a fingerprint scanner that is housed underneath the iPhone’s touchscreen — but still enable users to scan their finger through the phone’s display — it could effectively design the first iPhone that features an edge-to-edge screen.
In doing so, Apple could develop a smaller form iPhone with a larger screen, giving it a significant competitive edge over competing smartphones on the market.
Apple could use its new Force Touch technology — which it has already integrated into its new MacBooks and the Apple Watch — to ensure that the virtual home button can only be activated when a certain amount of pressure is applied to a specific area of the screen. This would eliminate the chance of a user accidentally pressing the button.
It is highly unlikely that Apple will introduce the new rumored buttonless design in the next version of the iPhone, as the iPhone “s” models are typically focused on software updates rather than new hardware features.