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iPad 3 Could Drop the Home Button, Rely on Gestures



Today Apple sent out invites to an event March 7 about a new iPad that could come some time within a few days to a few weeks of the launch. If the image on the invite shows the new device, then we might already know some details about the iPad 3 (or iPad 2S if I’m right about the name).

First, the often cited rumors of a higher resolution could prove true. Second, the bezel doesn’t include a physical home button.

(Read: iPad 3 Event: What to Expect)

Looking carefully at the image, which shows the iPad dock and includes the Calendar app with the date of the event in between the Maps app icon and the Keynote app icon.

Official IPad 3 announcement March 7th Apple

Apple likes to include hints on their invites. The invite tagline reads:

We have something you really have to see. And touch.

The tagline could mean anything, but some suggest it means you will have to touch your iPad instead of pushing the home button to do basic functions showing the Multitasking Bar and hiding apps and that you will be looking at a higher resolution screen.

If Apple releases a new iPad without the home button, what does that mean for navigating the user interface? iOS 5 already includes gestures or another button that lets you do some of the things you do using the home button. For example:

  • Single Press to Wake Up – The power button and the iPad 2 Smart Cover will wake up your iPad too.
  • Show Home Screen While in an App– Pinch with four fingers like you’re picking up a napkin and the app screen will disappear showing the home screen.
  • Show Multitasking Bar – A double press shows this bar so you can see all apps recently run and then you can swipe left to right to show iPod controls and the AirPlay button. If you swipe up with four fingers, the multitasking bar will also appear.
Not all the functions you can do with the home button can be done using gestures or other buttons.
iPad 3 might have no home button

Removing the home button will mean new ways to do a few things

Here’s a list of functions the home button performs that have no comparable gesture or second button.
  • Triple Home Accessibility Features – You set this option in Settings, General, Accessibility, Triple-click Home. With it you can toggle other accessibility features. If Apple removes the home button, they will have to come up with a new gesture or assign this feature to another button unless they remove the feature altogether.
  • Show Home Screen While on Another Page of Apps – If you have a lot of apps with lots of pages, a single press will take you to the first home screen, useful if you’re on page 10 and don’t want to swipe nine times to get to home. There is no gesture to do this without the home button at present.
  • Double Press from Sleep – When the iPad is in sleep mode a double press shows the iPod control buttons and the AirPlay button along with the slide show button. No gesture will do this function at present.

In case you think we’re reading too much into this, consider the evidence. Gizmodo wondered the same thing suggesting the invite image might signal the removal of a home button too. They said this explains the “And touch” comment on the invite tagline.

If you think the image just shows an iPad in landscape mode consider this. The dock icons shown on the invite sit closer together than they do when your iPad is in landscape mode. Turn your iPad and you can see the spacing changes. Gizmodo mentioned that Apple could have their iPad upside down. They didn’t mention that you would likely see a camera hole. The black bezel could be hiding it in the photograph. Apple could just be messing with us, but I don’t think so.

If Apple removes the home button, I will be disappointed. I seldom use gestures to switch between apps or show the multitasking dock. I guess I’ll get used to it, but I prefer the button.



  1. Allan Kimmer Jensen

    02/29/2012 at 1:19 am

    Nope, landscape mode.

    • Sonal

      02/29/2012 at 9:25 pm

      That’s right … It’s in the landscape mode !!!

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