When Apple launched its latest smartphone, they introduced two major changes; the removal of the audio jack and it also dropped the mechanical home button replacing it with a static version that is force sensitive. Instead of the physical button, the home button uses a “taptic engine” to click back for users.
Recently, some of the users have mentioned that they are receiving message that states ‘The Home Button may need service’ message on their iPhone 7. It is unclear as to what causes the iPhone 7 Home button to fail as it should be more reliable than the physical home button that existed previously.
Unlike Apple’s previous smartphones, the iPhone 7 does not use a mechanical home button; as a matter of fact, it doesn’t move at all. The programming that controls the Taptic Engine-powered feedback is deeply integrated into iOS 10, and hence, it automatically offers a temporary workaround when there is a fault with the Home button. It seems that if the system detects malfunctioning of home button and it requires repair of the home button, the Taptic engine that controls the feedback to the users starts to suffer from issues.
In such a situation, Apple has come up with a virtual home button in place that will allow the malfunctioning iPhone to be used until the user decides to get it fixed. A dialog prompt warns the user that the home button is in need of repair, but, it also presents an alternative onscreen home button for temporary use until the phone has been turned in to Apple for servicing.
There is no doubt that this is an interesting solution, something that the users may not have anticipated or experienced previously. To our understanding, Apple is trying to forestall such a potential failure by putting measure in place to still allow the user to access the device as intended by them.
But the biggest question is whether or not the Home button’s failure rate is any better than that of the physical button. It is a known fact that the Taptic engine built in the latest Apple device can sometimes fail if the device becomes unresponsive which could be the root cause of the alert message that users are getting presently. What needs to be observed is how reliable the new home button can be compared to the previous one in the older iPhones.
There are several rumors doing the rounds that suggest the complete erasing of the iconic home button for next year’s iPhone 8 in order to introduce directly built edge-to-edge display. This is predicted to come with an embedded technology that will act as the new Home button and touch ID sensor. What remains unclear is if Apple plans to implement the same button-based recovery methods for instances where devices cease to function or freeze.