Apple code reveals iPhone 8's virtual Home button secrets

Apple code reveals iPhone 8’s virtual Home button secrets


iPhone 8 concept
Don't expect this kind of functionality.
Photo: iDropNews

Bidding goodbye to the iPhone’s physical Home button won’t be easy, but there are some advantages to going virtual for iPhone 8.

Not only will it allow for a larger edge-to-edge display, but it also means you’ll be able customize the virtual button. Apple code suggests we’ll have the option to resize it and hide it away if we don’t want it to be displayed on screen at all times.

All kinds of iPhone 8 details have been discovered in Apple’s HomePod firmware ahead of the handset’s official unveiling. We now know what the device will look like, and that it will boast features like facial recognition and tap to wake.

After further digging, developer Steve Troughton-Smith has uncovered more information about the iPhone 8’s virtual Home button. As expected, it will sit at the bottom of its edge-to-edge display in the same area as a physical Home button, but it will be customizable.

Apple’s code suggests that the button indicator will be resizable, and that we’ll have the option to hide it. There is no API that would allow developers to change its color to match the theme of their apps (yet), and apps won’t be able to extend into the Home button area.

Sadly, that means developers won’t be able to put toolbars, shortcuts, and other items in this area. Apple’s plans could change later, but for now, the space is reserved exclusively for the Home button when it isn’t hidden away, which means navigation buttons will remain at the top of the screen.

Fullscreen video will automatically hide the Home button indicator, but it’s not yet clear how videos will be adapted to the iPhone 8’s unique aspect ratio.

The mockup below from Matt Bonney provides a clearer depiction of how Apple will use areas of the iPhone 8’s display for different things. As you can see, when the Home button indicator is present, the amount of space available to apps isn’t that much bigger than before.

“All of these things are supported by API evidence, so this is the clearest picture of its functionality we have to work from,” tweeted Troughton-Smith. Again, Apple’s plans could change before iPhone 8 makes its official debut this September, but this is what we know for now.