A Future Without Buttons?

Other Apple Chat

This is a bit random, but I wanted to share these thoughts and see what people think. Does anyone else think Apple may be setting us up toward a future without any physical buttons on the phone?

Before you all tell me I'm crazy, let me share the evidence that's causing me to wonder if this might be the case. Consider the following:

- In iOS 10, Apple has introduced a "Raise to Wake" feature. Since the most current generations of iPhone use TouchID to unlock, the only reason the unlock button is needed is so that users can wake their phones without unlocking them. That functionality could be getting phased out by this new "Raise to Wake" feature.
- One of the features Apple seems very proud of in the iPhone 7 line is its water resistance. The less buttons a device has, the more water resistant it can be made. They've already demonstrated that fact with the AppleWatch Series 2.
- Speaking of the iPhone 7, the latest model has replaced the mechanical home button with a Force Touch button, and there are already rumors that next year's tenth anniversary iPhone will have the home button invisibly embedded directly in the screen.
- This brings us to the rumor that the tenth anniversary iPhone will be all glass, and that Apple has been investing in the capability to create a curved glass casing, similar to that sported by the Samsung Galaxy Edge. There are also rumors and trademark registrations that lead us to believe that they will be introducing a touch-sensitive control bar on the refresh of the Macbook Pro line. An iPhone with a seamless, curved-glass construction could use this same technology to implement volume touch controls in the side of the phone.

So what do you all think? Apple has a long history of introducing features in one product line, in order to pave the way for more dramatic changes in a future product. Could these changes we are seeing across the Apple ecosystem be moving us toward a future of iPhones with no physical buttons? I can tell you this: before I got my first iPhone, I didn't know how I would ever be able to function in a phone market that was increasingly moving away from physical keys and toward touch screens. I never could have guessed how easy and rewarding Apple would make the process of trading in my old physical keyboard for a touch screen. Personally, if we are looking at an upcoming iPhone without any buttons, there's nobody I'd trust more than Apple to handle it in a way that will be rewarding for all of their users, including those of us who are blind.



Submitted by Jake on Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I wouldn't mind if we see this, so long as I still can have a physical keyboard on my Macbooks or to connect to my iPads. Touch screens are awesome for controlling, navigation, and interaction. For composing long passages though, they're not so great.

Submitted by Joseph Westhouse on Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Yeah, I don't see physical keyboards for laptops and desktops ever going away. But then, I don't want to go swimming with my Macbook either...

Submitted by charles on Tuesday, September 13, 2016

In reply to by Joseph Westhouse

A totally buttonless phone with a totally smooth surface all the way aroung, top side and back side would cause accessibility issues not only for the totally blind, but for people in a dark room. If there were a different texture where buttons such as power, volume, and home used to be, that might be a solution. I would be fine with that. If the phone doesn't immediately react when the power area is touched, we won't know to stop hunting for it. The same is true for a home area that reads a fingerprint. How to know when your finger is exactly in the right place might be problematic.

Submitted by Joseph Westhouse on Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Agreed, but if Apple was to design a completely buttonless phone, I'm sure those are the sort of issues they'd be thinking about, too.