When Apple introduced the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last month, it added a better display, faster processor, improved Taptic engine, better battery life, IP67 dust/water resistance, and improved cameras (along with optical image stabilization on the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 — something that was missing on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s). Apple also took away a couple of things — namely the 3.5mm headphone jack (which upset a lot of people) and a mechanical home button.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus did away with the physical switch mechanism that has been with the home button since the iPhone was introduced in 2007, and instead introduced a stationary, pressure sensitive “button” that is tied to the iPhone’s Taptic engine. Through the use of some clever software, the new home button can somewhat decently mimic the clicking sensation of its predecessor, while at the same time helping to improve water resistance.
Doing away with the physical switch also eliminates a common failure point with iPhones, but what happens when the new solid-state home button decides to cough up a lung? Well, Apple has apparently already thought of that. As discovered by MacRumors forum member iwayne, Apple has implement a software workaround that will still allow you to “Get Home” if the button actually malfunctions. In this case, Apple displays a warning prompt that points out a home button issue and automatically enables Assistive Touch (a feature that has been within iOS for quite some time).
It’s a little disconcerting to see that the new iPhone 7’s home button, which was supposed to solve the issues of premature button failure, are already experiencing issues this early in the game. But at least Apple has adopted a quick workaround to allows users to limp back to an Apple Store for repair or replacement.
And if the early rumors are accurate, next year’s iPhone might not even a home button at all. It’s been reported that Apple will try to minimize the bezels on the 2017 iPhone and go with a software based home button and under-the-glass Touch ID sensor in its place.