This Patent Hints at a Home Button-Less iPhone 8 (AAPL)

Not content on nixing the headphone jack on the iPhone; Apple may eventually do away with the iconic Home button on future models.

Apple AAPL iPhone

Planning to spend your hard earned $$$ on the newly launched iPhone 7? Hold off the upgrade until next year because the iPhone 8 is shaping up to be everything that its older sibling is not.

Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) rumored flagship 2017 smartphone is expected to feature exciting new technology, not the same old same old that the Cupertino-based company has been feeding fan boys for years. Apart from virtual reality [VR] capabilities, the iPhone 8 may come with a new fingerprint sensor, one that’s capable of getting accurate readings of your fingertips through the screen. The patent was announced by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and it’s expected to change the way you use your iPhone.

For one thing, the new tech will eliminate the need for the traditional Home button, arguably the most used feature on the iPhone.

The Home button has been a part of the iPhone’s anatomy since the smartphone launched in 2007 and it’s unthinkable to abandon it altogether. Initially, the Home button was used to direct users to the home screen but over the years, this feature has evolved to accommodate more functions, including fingerprint scanning thanks to the integration of TouchID.

Unfortunately, the Home button is also one of the most abused features of the iPhone so it has been a source of problems for many users.

According to the patent filing, the technology is a “capacitive fingerprint sensor including an electrostatic lens,” which allows users to activate the iPhone through the display, not via a dedicated button. Essentially, the sensor conducts authentication all over the display. What’s more, the tech is better at reading a user’s fingerprint than the existing finger print scanner on older iPhone models.

As described by Apple, the new tech addresses “an interest in avoiding assigning valuable surface space exclusively to a component that may only be used briefly during the process of identifying the user.” Since the new sensor eliminates the need for the home button, Apple can adopt an edge-to-edge display to expand the screen’s surface area.  Without the Home button, engineers are given more room to redesign the smartphone’s display without increasing its size.

So, how does the new sensor works? The electrostatic lens is used to prevent electric fields from blurring, which may result in inaccurate readings or errors.  The lens features several conductive layers that bend around a user’s fingerprint, boosting accuracy.

The new tech sounds exciting and it is expected to solve a lot of design issues that plague older models but here’s the thing: there’s no saying if the tech will be implemented on the iPhone 8.

As with most companies, Apple has been filing multiple patents every year and most of them remain unused. It is fairly common for tech companies to file patents to eliminate the competition and this could be just another technology that Apple is hoping to snuff.

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