“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” — Ecclesiastes 1:9
Apple will bring back the iPhone home button. I know this like I know spring will follow winter; like I know death will follow life.
I make this prediction not long after supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted next year’s iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max releases would move from clickable volume and power buttons to solid-state “buttons,” similar to the home “button” found on the iPhone 7. These “buttons,” called solid-state due to the fact that they have no moving parts, are in fact unclickable, but give the illusion of clicking with the use of Apple's Taptic Engine. On the iPhone 7, they looked like a home button and allowed you to open the phone with your fingerprint. They are intended to move you away gently from something you still want: a button. The phone will, if it unfolds as predicted by Kuo, be completely, though not functionally, buttonless.
It is my prediction that soon after the power and volume buttons are replaced with solid state “buttons,” Apple will remove their clickable aspect altogether. Not having learned their lesson from this terrible work-issued Macbook Pro I have, they will make these elements accessible only by touch screen. This will be horrible and everyone will hate it. Apple will try to make improvements. They will fail. And eventually, like they did with traditional function keys on the Macbook Pro, they will bring back buttons.
I understand a return to buttons might be difficult to imagine, as it goes against the four core targets Apple attempts to hit with every new iPhone iteration:
- Harder to use
- More annoying
Yes, they will indeed have to abandon at least some of these to allow the button’s return. We may have to wait until the iPhone has less of a stranglehold on the mobile phone market, at which point it will be humbled enough to admit error. We may even have to wait for Tim Cook to die, and of course may he R.I.P. at that time. But the button will come back to us.
Why will the button come back? Because it’s better. There is only so far you can go in the opposite direction of better before you have to swing back around or perish. People like buttons because they tend to work. You just click them. You don’t have to look to see where they are. You don’t have to hold your phone in front of your face. You don’t have to use gestures. You just click. If you want to have a topic everyone can agree on at the Thanksgiving table, I suggest this one: “Apple should bring back the home button on the iPhone.”
Flip phones are back, and in fact there are rumors Apple itself will release one as soon as 2024. They are back because they were good. Last year, Apple announced its return to a magnetic charger, because the non-magnetic charger was, obviously, bad. Ideally Apple would also bring back the headphone jack, but that seems less likely to me. (Though, now that every other phone has also erroneously jettisoned their jack, it might behoove Apple to be the one phone that has it and allows you to listen to music with ease. They can call it ummm … the bop portal.)
While some might dismiss this prediction as that of an aged crone clinging to the past, I am confident those with enough foresight will see it as that of a beautiful, almost ageless, goddess who can see multiple steps into the future. Water finds its own level. The button will come back.