When the original iPhone was unveiled in January 2007, Steve Jobs introduced its signature home button with a succinct pitch: “It takes you home from wherever you are. And that’s it.” Such a simple explanation seems striking today. Not only would the home button evolve into a Swiss Army Knife of functions, but it would become the iconic face of the iPhone itself, making it instantly recognizable even from a distance.
Ten years later, the home button has been put through its paces. It’s old, bloated with features, and taking up valuable space on devices with rapidly shrinking bezels. For the first time this fall, Apple will ship an iPhone without a home button at all — the iPhone X. How did we get here? Let’s take a look back at the home button’s winding history.