iPad 2: Will the next Apple iPad ship without a home button?

iPad 2 gossip now centers on the device's home button – or lack thereof.

iPad 2 – the allegedly forthcoming Apple tablet device – will ship without a home button, according to some sources. Here, a user in Germany tries out the Apple iPad.

iPad 2 rumors are nothing new – professional prognosticators have been waxing poetic about the possibility of a new Apple iPad since late last year. Which makes sense. Apple "refreshes" its devices on a very predictable cycle – every year or so – and if history is any guide, the iPad, which debuted in April of 2010, will soon make way for an iPad 2. Or something similar. (The "iPad 2" probably won't be the name of the device.)

So what will the Apple iPad 2 look like? If you'd asked us this question last week, we probably would have guessed that the iPad 2 will look a whole lot like the iPad 1. Square, slim, big screen. Maybe a couple of cameras. A nice round home button – the same button seen on the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. But now comes news that the iPad 2 might not have a home button at all.

Over at Boy Genius Report, Jonathan S. Geller alleges that "the reason Apple just added multitouch gestures for the iPad in the latest iOS 4.3 beta is because the iPad will be losing the home button. Yes, we are told that Apple, at some point in time, will remove the home button from the iPad’s design. Instead of button taps, you will use new multitouch gestures to navigate to the home screen and also to launch the app switcher."

Geller quotes anonymous sources familiar with the new iPad. And he adds a very intriguing kicker: "In addition to the home button disappearing from the iPad, we’re told that this change will make its way over to the iPhone as well." No home button! On the iPad 2? And on the iPhone? Sounds a little strange, doesn't it? And difficult – for our part, we like touch screens, but we really the home button on our iPhone 4. It's reassuring. It's solid.

It's old-fashioned – it harkons back to a day when tech users actually clicked real buttons, instead of tapping a glass screen.

Which is part of why Chris Foresman of Ars Technica thinks the no-home-button thing is just a bunch of hooey. He cites a bunch of reasons that the next iPad will ship with a home button, including this one: "[the] new products are probably just a few months away from shipping, and likely to begin production in just a couple weeks, and have had their designs locked in for some time now."

Which makes it very "doubtful Apple would ship the iPad with such a radical change in user interaction without thoroughly testing that the multitouch gestures work as well as (or better than) the various home button clicks."

Thoughts? Is Foresman right? Drop us a line in the comments section.

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