There’s a lot that’s changing in the iPhone 8. Thanks to the phone’s design — the entire front of the device will be screen (except for a small notch up top) — Apple’s entire approach to phones will need to change. That includes ditching the Home button in favor of waving your finger around, it turns out.
Bloomberg, ahead of the all but certain September debut of the iPhone 8, has a breakdown of how it’ll run. The answer is, well, hope you like dragging your finger across the screen, because you’ll be doing it a lot.
Across the bottom of the screen there’s a thin, software bar in lieu of the home button. 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… The multitasking interface has been redesigned to appear like a series of standalone cards that can be swiped through, versus the stack of cards on current iPhones, the images show.
This is similar to how Apple’s computers handle multitasking now, with apps in a dock that you click on to expand. It’s not a terrible idea in of itself, but for those who want their screens pristine, it’ll be annoying. And there’s a potential safety issue here as well.
As we’ve noted before, Apple uses the Home button to protect the phone’s data and enable an emergency mode, and the home button is also a good failsafe for at least getting your phone back from a crashing app. Physical buttons are useful because they give you a way to work with your phone if the screen won’t unlock or is otherwise shut down. Even a problem as simple as a locked up phone can be more easily solved if you’ve got a way to override processes and go back to home.
They may not seem terribly elegant, of course, but there does come a point where functionality matters more than looks, and Apple presumably has a solution. Otherwise, people may not be able to rely on their phones right when they need them most.