Apple’s Overloaded iPhone Button

by Luke Wroblewski August 17, 2011

For years Apple has been on a quest to eradicate buttons. Looking at the progression from 1984’s M0100 mouse to today’s Magic Mouse illustrates the trend clearly: from big bulky buttons to no buttons at all. Now as rumors continue to swirl around new iPhones without the device’s iconic “Home” button, I thought it would be interesting to look at all the uses the iPhone’s primary button covers.

  1. When an iPhone is “asleep”, pressing the home button once brings up the Lock Screen.
  2. When on the Lock screen, pressing the home button twice quickly brings up the audio/video player controls on the Lock Screen.
  3. When on the first page of apps, pressing the home button once navigates to the search screen.
  4. When on the search screen or any other page of apps (not including the first page), pressing the home button once navigates to the first page of apps.
  5. When an app is open, pressing the home button once navigates to the page the app icon is on and closes the app. Unless that app is inside an iOS folder. If it is in a folder, pressing the home button once navigates to the open folder and closes the app. Pressing it again navigates to the page the app icon is on.
  6. On a screen of apps or while an app is open, pressing the home button twice quickly reveals a list all the apps currently running on the phone. Pressing home again, closes this list.
  7. On any screen, holding down the home button for three seconds activates Voice Control mode with Siri.
  8. On any screen, pressing the home button and the power button at the same time saves a screen shot of the current screen in the Photos directory.
  9. On any screen, pressing the home button and the power button down for six seconds triggers a hard reset of the phone.
  10. When in Edit Apps mode (icons jiggling), pressing the home button exits the mode.
  11. When in Force Quit Apps mode (minus icons visible on active apps list), pressing the home button exits the mode.
  12. With Accessibility settings on, pressing the home button three times quickly, inverts screen colors. (Must first be enabled in Settings App: General: Accessibility: Triple-click Home)
  13. On any app, hold the power button until the "off" slider shows, let go, then hold home button until App is "killed".
  14. Pressing the home button and one of the volume buttons on the side of the device at the same time creates a stackshot file.
  15. I may have missed something?

It will be really interesting to see how a series of gestures (instead of a single hardware button) can tackle all these functions.