One of the many recurring rumors surrounding Apple’s line of iOS devices is the demise of the iconic home button. These rumors initially gained traction when multi-touch gestures that allowed a user to navigate the iPad first came out. And now they’re a staple around every iPhone and iPad launch. This story has never really amounted to anything more than the occasional concept design, but I’m starting to think that getting rid of the home button – on the iPad, at least – isn’t such a bad idea.
I never use the home button on my iPad. Well, not on purpose. Because the device is so large, and because I hold it with my hands halfway up from the bottom, I find it awkward to change positions to reach down and click the home button. Since I naturally orient myself for maximum screen use, it feels much more natural to navigate my iPad with screen-based gestures.
The five-finger pinch to get to the home screen, the four-finger swipe up to reveal the multitasking dock, and the four finger swipe left and right to switch between open apps, in my opinion, make using an iPad more enjoyable and easier.
In fact, most of the time, when I press the home button, I do so accidentally while watching a video or playing a game. As I’m sure you can imagine, this is possibly the worst time to go “home,” and it’s a problem that would be solved if the home button was no more.
Now, just to be clear, I’m only advocating getting rid of the home button on the iPad. The screens on the iPhone and iPod touch are too small to facilitate the four and five-finger gestures that shine on the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen, so the home button is really the only option for those devices.
I’m aware that getting rid of one of only four physical controls on the iPad (five if you count the volume rocker as two buttons) would be a risky move. Not to mention it would dramatically alter the iconic look of the tablet. But, in the long run, I think it is the right decision. The home button is prone to breaking. If you Google “iPad home button,” six out of the ten suggested searches are about this button malfunctioning in one way or another. And system-wide gestures offer a much wider range of options – there’s only so many things you can make one button do.
The home button has served us well for a long time, but I think that it may just be time for the good ol’ thing to retire. Do you guys agree? I’m interested to see if I’m the only one who feels this way, or if other people wouldn’t mind seeing the end of the home button. Weigh in down below in the comments section or share your thoughts with me on twitter.