Apple's Next iPad Could Be First Without a Home Button

Apple could offer a new iPad next year that ditches a feature users have always found on the company's tablets, getting rid of the physical Home button.

That's according to Japan-based Apple-tracking site Macotakara, citing unnamed people with knowledge of the company's plans. The report claims an iPad Pro with a 10.9-inch screen would get rid of the physical button, instead moving it beneath the iPad's glass screen. The button would support Touch ID, even though it wouldn't work like a standard physical button.

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Rumors have surfaced in the last several weeks suggesting Apple is working on a sizable update to its iPad line, with the most popular claim being that the iPad Pro will add a new size. Analysts such as KGI Securities' Ming-chi Kuo say Apple is planning a third iPad Pro version to complement its current 9.7- and 12.9-inch models. Kuo has said that the third iPad Pro would feature a 10.5-inch screen. The Macotakara report now says Apple is eyeing a 10.9-inch display.

While rumors differ on the size of the next iPads, they all agree that new tablets will likely make an appearance next year with features that will deliver major improvements to the tablet's design while hinting at what might be in store for future iPhones.

An iPad without a Home button would be a first from Apple. The company has always sold its tablets (and its phones, for that matter) with a physical Home button under the display. While Apple has made several changes to the button over the years, including adding its Touch ID fingerprint-sensing technology to it, the company has always kept it in place. Earlier this year with the iPhone 7, Apple converted the Home button into more of a sensor that doesn't actually click in like a traditional button. Many had said it could be the precursor to a future iPhone that moves the button beneath the glass display.

However, baking the Home button into the iPad's screen could force a compromise. According to Macotakara's sources, the feature would make the iPad Pro thicker. In fact, Macotakara says the device would be 7.5mm thick, putting it inline with the original iPad Air. Apple will, however, offer thinner bezels in the device, the report says.

For its part, Apple hasn't commented on its plans for the future and likely won't until it actually showcases a new device sometime next year. But expect the rumors to keep coming until the company finally unveils what it has planned.

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