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iPhone 7 Home Button

We Need to Talk About the iPhone 7 Home Button

The new touch-sensitive Home button is a nice addition.
September 21, 2016

I’ve been an iPhone 7 Plus owner for less than 48 hours. During that time, I’ve yet to use the device’s powerful new dual-camera, could care less about the loss of the headphone jack, and remain steadfast in my refusal to do a water dunk test. What’s really gotten my attention during the past two days is new iPhone 7 Home button, which really isn’t a button at all.

Yes, Matte Black Finish is Nice, But …

Yes, Matte Black Finish is Nice, But …

Because my fingers weren’t fast enough, I wasn’t able to purchase a Jet Black iPhone with an acceptable delivery date. Instead, I purchased the matte black model. Once getting past seeing this new color scheme in person for the first time (yes, I found it impressive), something quickly dawned on me. This spanking new iPhone looks nearly identical to the iPhone 6s Plus that it was replacing. No surprise there, of course.

The iPhone 7 Plus didn’t truly hook me until startup when I was asked to configure the device’s Home button. The iPhone 7 Home button is a touch-sensitive area that is slightly lower than the rest of the phone screen. The button features a fingerprint reader and, like the trackpad on the 12-inch MacBook, is powered by a Taptic engine.

Here’s where things get weird

When you push the Home button area, you’ll feel a button click and depression. However, this is an illusion dreamed up in Cupertino, California. Physically, there is no button click or depression. Instead, this is the Taptic engine doing its thing.

During startup, you’re given an option to Choose your click, which allows you to adjust the magical intensity of each click. There are three options available: light (1), medium (2) and heavy (3) clicks. You can change this later by going into the Settings app under General > Home Button.

Once you get past the newness of the iPhone 7 Home button, there are some important things to know moving forward:

  • Because Apple has removed the moving parts from the Home button, you’re less likely to break it.
  • Stop exercising your thumb. The Home button is much easier to use. Don’t push as hard as you did on previous models.
  • Fingernails and most capacitive gloves no longer activate the Home button. Keep this in mind when winter arrives. I’d expect we’ll be seeing many “second-generation” capacitive gloves arriving in stores soon.
  • Watch your double- and triple-clicks. Things happen much quicker with the new Home button. If you feel things are moving too quickly, consider slowing down the click speed. You can do so in the Settings app under General > Accessibility > Home Button.

Looking ahead

I’ve heard the iPhone 7 Home button described in a number of ways in recent days, including “strange,” “frustrating,” and “weird.” I’d use the word magical. Having fewer moving parts in a smart device is always a great idea in my book. Nonetheless, there is a slight learning curve involved when using the new Home button.

An iPhone redesign is almost certainly set to arrive in 2017. Because of this, I expect the iPhone 7 will be the last Apple handset to include what looks like a circular Home button on the screen. Instead, future models will probably feature a touch-sensitive area flush with the rest of the iPhone screen. The changes Apple made this year with the iPhone Home button were the first step in this direction.