How Ap­ple plans to change the way you use the next iphone


Ap­ple Inc. plans to trans­form the way peo­ple use its next high-end iphone by elim­i­nat­ing the con­cept of a home but­ton and mak­ing other ad­just­ments to a flag­ship de­vice that’s be­com­ing al­most all screen, ac­cord­ing to im­ages of the new de­vice viewed by Bloomberg News and peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the gad­get.

The home but­ton is the key to the iphone and the de­sign hasn’t changed much since it launched in 2007. Cur­rently, users click it to re­turn to the start­ing app grid that greets them mul­ti­ple times a day. They hold it down to talk to the Siri dig­i­tal as­sis­tant. Dou­ble click it and you get mul­ti­task­ing where dif­fer­ent apps screens can be swiped through like a carousel.

Ap­ple is pre­par­ing three new iphones for de­but next month. One of the mod­els, a new high-end de­vice, packs in enough changes to make it one of the big­gest iphone up­dates in the prod­uct’s decade-long his­tory. With a crisper screen that takes up nearly the en­tire front, Ap­ple has tested the com­plete re­moval of the home but­ton—even a dig­i­tal one—in favour of new ges­ture con­trols for tasks like go­ing to the main app grid and open­ing mul­ti­task­ing, ac­cord­ing to the peo­ple and the im­ages.

In the new, high-end iphone, Ap­ple also plans a taller screen with rounded cor­ners, a cutout at the top of the dis­play for the cam­era and sen­sors, and new an­tenna lo­ca­tions, the im­ages show. Ap­ple often tests dif­fer­ent de­signs and the de­tails may dif­fer from what the com­pany re­leases. An Ap­ple spokes­woman de­clined to com­ment.

Across the bot­tom of the screen there’s a thin, soft­ware bar in lieu of the home but­ton. A user can drag it up to the mid­dle of the screen to open the phone. When in­side an app, a sim­i­lar ges­ture starts mul­ti­task­ing. From here, users can con­tinue to flick up­wards to close the app and go back to the home screen. An an­i­ma­tion in test­ing sucks the app back into its icon.

The mul­ti­task­ing in­ter­face has been re­designed to ap­pear like a se­ries of stand­alone cards that can be swiped through, ver­sus the stack of cards on cur­rent iphones, the im­ages show.

The new model’s over­all size will be sim­i­lar to that of the iphone 7, but it will in­clude an OLED screen that is slightly larger than the one on the iphone 7 Plus (5.5-inches), ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the prod­uct.

The phone will have sym­met­ri­cal, slim bezels around the en­tirety of the screen, mean­ing the area be­low the screen that used to house the home but­ton and the area above the screen for the earul­ti­mately piece have been re­moved. The ear­piece, fa­cial recog­ni­tion sen­sor, and selfie cam­era are in­stead present in a cutout, or “notch”, at the top of the screen, the im­ages show.

The screen is also no­tice­ably taller than the iphone 7 Plus’s screen, the peo­ple said. The phone will still have six ver­ti­cal rows of apps, show­ing 24 icons on each page, ex­clud­ing the dock, a grey bar at the bot­tom that houses com­monly used apps.

Ap­ple has opted to not hide the notch area at the top of the screen, show­ing a de­fin­i­tive cutout at the top of apps with non-black back­grounds. The cutout is no­tice­able dur­ing app us­age in the mid­dle of the very top of the screen, where the sta­tus bar (the area that shows cel­lu­lar re­cep­tion, the time, and bat­tery life) would nor­mally be placed, ac­cord­ing to the im­ages. In­stead, the sta­tus bar will be split into left and right sides. In im­ages of re­cent test de­vices, the left side shows the time while the area on the right side of the notch dis­plays cel­lu­lar and Wi-fi con­nec­tiv­ity and re­main­ing bat­tery life.

The colour re­pro­duc­tion of the OLED screen means that when the dis­play shows black, it blends in nearly per­fectly with the phone’s notch and thin black edges on the front, pre­sent­ing a seam­less look, ac­cord­ing to the peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the prod­uct.

Ap­ple also plans to in­clude a stain­less steel band around the phone which the glass curves into. The steel band has small an­tenna cuts on the cor­ners like past iphones to im­prove re­cep­tion, the im­ages show.

Ap­ple is also plan­ning two ad­di­tional new iphone mod­els that use faster pro­ces­sors, but in­clude the same screens as the iphone 7 and iphone 7 Plus.

The new de­vices will de­but at Ap­ple’s Septem­ber launch event along­side up­graded Ap­ple TV and Ap­ple Watch mod­els. BLOOMBERG

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