The trove of HomePod firmware code has produced another tantalizing hint about Apple’s next iPhone – namely, that its home button will be virtual and resizable.
That’s the conclusion that developer Steve Troughton-Smith has come to after digging further through the developer code for Apple’s forthcoming smart home device. In a tweet, the developer asserted that parts of the code suggest that the iPhone’s home button is not physical but rather a virtual element on the screen, and that it can be hidden and resized depending on other functions being performed on the phone, such as playing a full-screen video.
Beyond offering another glimpse at Apple’s next big phone, the finding represents the latest intrigue concerning the future and fate of Touch ID. Apple is thought to have been trying to integrate its fingerprint scanning system directly into the display of the device – an aspiration being pursued by other OEMs and sensor makers – but recent reports have suggested that this could be too high a technical obstacle for Apple to overcome with the iPhone 8. So speculation then shifted to the idea that Apple will abandon Touch ID entirely in favor of facial recognition, a feature that seems to have been confirmed in other HomePod code snippets, or that it will move it to the power button.
The virtual home button finding does nothing to clarify the matter, but it does drive another nail in the coffin of the traditional Touch ID system based in a physical home button.