Technology

Hot-Button Issue: iPhone 6S Hints at An End to the Home Button

People look over the new Apple iPhone 6s models during a product display following an Apple event Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in San Francisco. Apple staked a new claim to the living room on Wednesday, as the maker of iPhones and other hand-held gadgets unveiled an Internet TV system that's designed as a beachhead for the tech giant's broader ambitions to deliver a wide range of information, games, music and video to the home. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
People look over the new Apple iPhone 6s models during a product display following an Apple event Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(CNet) – When Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, he touted the elegance of its design, particularly how simple it was to navigate the smartphone from a single point.

“On the front, there’s only one button,” Jobs said. “We call it the home button. Takes you home from wherever you are. And that’s it.”

That was a radical design, given at the time that Nokia’s and BlackBerry’s top-selling smartphones required pressing lots of buttons and keys. Eight years and nine generations of the iPhone later, Apple’s round home button has remained a focal point for navigating the smartphone and a design feature that’s helped set the Cupertino, California, company apart from competitors.

But the 4.7-inch iPhone 6S, which goes on sale Friday alongside its larger iPhone 6S Plus sibling, may mark the beginning of the end of the home button. Some of the new functionality in the iPhone 6S — including the pressure-sensitive touchscreen and expanded use of the voice-activated Siri virtual assistant — may be laying the groundwork for a radical shift in design by diminishing the need for a physical home button.

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