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iOS 5’s gesture-driven accessibility options equal death of menu button? We’re not so sure

The iPhone 5 has still yet to be officially announced; we’ve no idea when it’s coming, what it’ll look like, or even if it’ll be called the iPhone 5. We would laugh if it ends up being called the iPhone 4X or iPhone Super Mega Win, or something.

Naming and release dates aside, screenshots of the iOS 5 beta (version 3) have begun to leak out from developers, which some suggest give us a better idea of how the iPhone 5 will actually look, better than any leaked blurrycam or Photoshopped pic ever could.

The latest dev’s screengrabs from iOS 5 show off a series of gesture-based controls that’ll allow you to access several features, such as volume up/down/mute and screen lock and rotate.

There also appears to be the option to assign specific gestures to specific phone functions, something which reminds us a bit of good old Dolphin Browser on our Android phones.

All of this seems to suggest that the iPhone 5 won’t feature a physical home key at all – a rumour that’s been doing the rounds for a while now. With all these whizzy newfangled gesture-commands, who needs one?

Nose, face, spite?

Though impressive, we’re not sure that this is a death knell for the home button. Pocket-lint’s take on this says that this is aimed at those who require additional accessibility, those who might have problems with multitouch functions. We’re inclined to agree.

And as Nowhereelse’s post (translated) suggests, we’ve a feeling that these gestures will be offered in addition to, not instead of a physical home key.

Axing the home button on an iPhone entirely seems like a bad move to us. So many key features are accessed and controlled by it. Clicking on the home button once when in normal menu browsing mode opens up the search menu. Double clicking on the button brings up a list of running apps (in iOS 4 and above), allowing you to remote kill any apps running in the background.

When your iPhone is locked and you’re playing music, simply double clicking on the phone will allow you to skip tracks and adjust volume; no need for the many lock-screen widgets that we see on Android music players; the iPhone has it built in.

Not to mention the nifty screengrab action, which requires you to hold the home button down and tap the power button; we’ve only just seen a handful of Android phones catching up to this.

Take away the home key and you’d lose all of this stuff. Or rather, you’d have to have people learn how to do the stuff they knew how to do all over again.

Seeing as the Apple experience is all about making things as easy as possible for the user, we have our doubts that the company would go so far as to totally ditch the iconic home button from its hero product. We wouldn’t dare try to second guess Apple. But based on what we’ve seen so far, we’re not convinced that means game over for the home button.


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