With the latest release of the third beta of iOS 5 for developers, Apple has introduced a number of gestures aimed at possibly replacing the home button, which will take you to the home screen from any screen and also aid in multi-tasking.
Found within the Assessibility menu is a new gesture control panel called AssistiveTouch that can replace the functions of existing hardware buttons. Once enabled, TiPB writes:
The control panel can be activated by tapping the overlay on screen. It pops up with a menu containing Gestures, Favorites, Devices, and Home. Gestures has a sub menu for 2, 3, 4, and 5 finger gestures, and once you choose a quantity, blue circles in the appropriate amount appear on screen. Favorites contains defaults like Pinch and Swipe, and any custom gestures you’ve created. Device replicates the hardware features such as Rotate Screen, Lock Screen, Mute/Unmute, Volume Up/Volume Up, and Shake.
In the past developer betas, Apple had experimented with software and gesture that could potentially replace the home button, but the company never implemented said gestures on the final shipping release of an iOS software. It’s unclear if these gesture controls will make it to the final release of iOS 5, but the chances are good as Apple has found a place for gestures within the Accessibility panel.
These gestures can be used for people who may not be able to press a button and will allow this segment of the iOS population to use their devices with ease. For instance, those with severe arthritis can now operate an iPhone without too many button presses–other than perhaps turning on their devices or locking their devices–that can aggravate their joints and cause pain.