It may be one of the worst kept secrets in the tech world. The iPhone 8 will have a radical new design from what we have seen in previous releases. In fact, it’s arguably going to be the biggest design change in the history of the iPhone. However, don’t take our word for it… Apple went ahead and revealed the design themselves with their HomePod firmware leak which showed off an illustration of the upcoming iPhone 8. However, it has been unclear how the iPhone 8 would work with the loss of the home button. Now, according to Bloomberg, we may have an answer.
It appears that new iPhone 8 gestures will replace the functionality of the home button. This is according to sources that have seen a test version of iOS 11 running on the iPhone 8. Users will use gestures at the bottom of the iPhone 8 display to do things like close apps, navigate back to the home screen, and open multitasking. This is a huge change in the way users will interact with the iPhone and it will be interesting to see how dedicate iPhone fans adjust to the major change. The home button has been used for everything from scanning fingerprints to launching Siri to simply going back to the home screen. All of these features have to be moved or integrated into the iPhone 8 gestures.
Clearly, the iPhone 8 display isn’t just a major change in design but also a major change in the way the iPhone will operate. The bezel-less display is Apple’s first OLED display and will surely be one of the best smartphone displays on the market when the iPhone 8 launches sometime in September. The display promises to stretch from edge to edge with only a notch in the top for the earpiece and front-facing sensors. One of the most interesting features of the new OLED display is that it stretches around the notch at the top of the device. Some people are referring to these extra bits of display as “ears.” Some renders have played with how this portion of the display will be utilized in the iPhone 8. The new design also makes us wonder how iPhone 8 gestures may work regarding notifications and settings. In existing iOS devices you can pull down from the top of the display to open notifications. Will there we new iPhone 8 gestures incorporated into the top portion of the display as well? Perhaps each “ear” will have its own unique set of gestures when a user interacts with it. The Bloomberg report largely focused on the bottom of the display and the iPhone 8 gestures that will be used to replace the home button.
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TouchID is also going to have to move thanks to the new iPhone 8 design. Since the home button is no more, TouchID no longer has a home (pun intended). Some early reports had suggested that Apple was working on a TouchID sensor embedded under the new OLED display but, more recently, reports have suggested that Apple was having manufacturing issues and TouchID may have been moved to the back of the device or incorporated into the power/lock button on the right-hand side of the device.
With that said, TouchID may not matter thanks to Apple’s new face scanning technology referred to as “PearlID” in the HomePod firmware leak. PearlID will use a front-facing infrared sensor to scan a user’s face. Some rumors have suggested that PearlID will be able to perform all the same tasks as TouchID only, obviously, using your face. That means that PearlID can be used to unlock the iPhone 8, authorize Apple Pay purchases, and access secure apps.
What else can we expect from Apple this fall other than new iPhone 8 gestures and face scanning technology? A big focus will be put on the iPhone 8 camera. Apple has made no secret of their push into augmented reality. There is an ARKit in iOS 11 and Tim Cook has made no secret of their plans to become a leader in AR. The vertically aligned dual camera sensor rumored to be coming in the iPhone 8 lends itself very nicely to AR applications. Since AR works best in landscape mode, the camera sensors will be horizontal when the user turns their iPhone 8 onto its side. A vertically aligned dual camera sensor may not seem exciting at first but we may be talking about this feature as one of the best smartphone features of 2017 in just a few months. It all depends on how Apple and third party developers are able to make use of the ARKit in iOS 11.
With only a few weeks to go until Apple finally reveals the iPhone 8 to the world, we’re likely in for a lot more leaks and rumors. The iPhone 8 gestures will be very interesting for two reasons. First, we want to see how intuitive the gestures are. Do they feel natural and make navigating the iPhone 8 easy and seamless or do they feel confusing and cumbersome? Secondly, we also want to see how experienced iPhone users adapt to the major change. The home button has been around since day 1 and now, in the blink of an eye, it will be gone. How will the general public react? Many tech enthusiasts will probably appreciate the future but, realistically, that’s a very small part of Apple’s user base.
What do you think of the rumor of new iPhone 8 gestures? Is this a step in the right direction for Apple or are they complicating what a home button used to do on its own?