On Wednesday, September 12, 2018, Home Button on the iPhone, a well-loved feature and distinct design element, officially passed away.
Born with the first iPhone in 2007, the Home Button was much more than a recessed circular component on the face of the iPhone. Over the years, Apple had added many functionalities to the Home Button and as the iPhones grew in front of our eyes, so did that little button.
We remember living in a world not so long ago, where phones were stacked with buttons, right up front. And one fine day, Apple introduced a touchscreen smartphone with a single button on the front, the iPhone. And it came as no surprise that in no time, that one controller became pretty much an identification mark for the iPhone.
They say, “you do not know what you have until it’s gone”, and we think it could not have been any more accurate in the case of the Home Button. Now that it has gone, we can think of multiple times when it ripped its comfortable corporate suit and changed into a cape-wearing superhero feature that went out to save the day.
It started with being a basic Home Button which when pressed brought us back to the home screen, but in the time of need, it evolved and carried the weight of different features and functionality on its tiny circular shoulders.
Remember the time when Apple first introduced multitasking with the iPhone 4? Or the time when it brought TouchID in our lives to make our devices more secure and the process of unlocking simpler? Or when we wanted to wake up Siri without saying “Hey, Siri”?
Yes, for all these functions and features, the Home Button was there for us.
Just like any other feature on the phone, the life of a Home Button has not been a walk in the park. Like many others, it had its ups and downs. Initially, when it was a physical button and not a staged one (from iPhone 7 onwards), the sole physical controller on the face of the iPhone was actually one of the most vulnerable aspects of an iPhone irrespective of how carefully you used it.
Because it was one of the most used buttons on the phone (cannot blame it, really, there were not many as it is), sweat would inevitably creep in from around its circumference and make it stop working.
Even after Apple fixed the issue and made the Home Button more of an illusion than a real physical button with the launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, many considered the Home Button to be the culprit behind the iPhone not having slimmer bezels. For as long as it was present on the front, the iPhones carried the big bezels around as the company would not compromise on the balance or proportion of the bezels.
As the bezel-less era was dawning upon the smartphone world, many smartphone design pundits believed that the little controller lived longer than it should have in the first place.
While many are celebrating the fact that Apple has finally pulled the plug on the Home Button (pun intended) when it comes to the iPhone, there are many who are mourning its death. After all, the Home Button was one of the few design elements that helped an iPhone stand out of the basic smartphone line.
Sure, various generations of the iPhone looked very similar from the front because of the repetitive design, but it was this design and mainly the Home Button that ensured that the iPhone could not have been mistaken for any Android device in the world.
The exit of the Home Button from the iPhone brings us more display and perhaps gives us a break from the repetitive design, but this exit has also made the iPhone look extremely similar to a number of Android phones that are present out there as many are now coming with a notch and no bezels. Yes, the size of the bezel and the shape of the phone may help some distinguish an iPhone from the others from the front, but it is never going to as obvious as it was when the Home Button was around.
It may have been the right time for it to leave this world, but that does not take away from the fact that we will dearly miss the Home Button on the iPhone.