Big iPhone 8 reveal: How the virtual home button will probably work

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How could an iPhone work without a home button? We now have some idea.

Apple is widely suspected to unveil three new iPhones at a September event: the iPhone 7S, iPhone 7S Plus, and the highly anticipated iPhone 8. All rumors point to the latter being a radical redesign of the device—one that includes and edge-to-edge screen with very thin bezels, which would mean the home button, a fundamental of iPhone design since the first model debuted in 2007, is going away.

new report from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, who has historically been one of the most reliable Apple reporters, reveals at least one possible way the iPhone 8 will make up for the lack of a home button. Apple is said to be testing multiple solutions, including one that is entirely gesture-based, meaning the user would return to the home screen by swiping with a finger in a specific way.

Here’s how it would work. The bottom of the iPhone 8’s display will show a thin bar. It’s unclear from the report whether the bar would be present just on the lock screen or at all times, but swiping up “opens the phone,” presumably calling up the keypad for a passcode or whatever biometric security is in the iPhone 8 (it’s rumored to be face recognition and possibly Touch ID if Apple can find a place for the fingerprint sensor without a home button).

Once the phone is unlocked, swiping up a little will open up the App Switcher for multitasking (currently called up by a double click on the home button), and swiping up a lot will bring the user all the way back to the home screen, punctuated by an animation that shrinks the active app back into its icon. The App Switcher has been redesigned, too, and it’ll look like a grid of active windows instead of stacked cards, like it is now (similar to what Android did in Nougat).

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