All it takes to see where we’re going in technology is to know where we are now, where we came from or where we were, say, a decade ago, and attempt a reasonable extrapolation forward. From the series of changes across a decade past we may be able to determine where we will be within a decade from now.
As of today, iPhone X does not have many holes and one less button than previous iPhones. The Home button is gone, replace by a swipe up gesture. Once you get used to it, well, it just works.
Despite the lack of a Home button, iPhone X isn’t as hole-free as we might suspect. Facing the Notch, the Ring/Silent ‘Mute’ switch is on the left, just above the Volume Up/Down buttons. Three buttons. Opposite, on the right, is the familiar Side button which turns power on and off and performs other functions (getting Apple Pay to work, for example).
At the bottom are stereo speakers, a built-in microphone, and the Lightning connector. The Notch also is home to a built-in stereo speaker and microphone.
See? Holes are everywhere but buttons are fewer in number this year than last year.
Going forward a year is it possible or probable that Apple could reduce the number of holes in the device? iPhones need speakers and microphones so both are likely to stay around. In the age of wireless charging could the Lightning connector go?
It’s been a month but I haven’t used a Lightning connector since shortly after iPhone X arrived. Is that a growing trend? Yes. iCloud does the backup of everything I need and while an encrypted iTunes backup on my Mac can be handy, it’s not a requirement.
Say goodby to Lightning connector by 2028.
What about the aforementioned buttons– Mute, Volume, and Power?
It makes more sense that Apple layer in such dramatic changes but it’s also apparent that both the Volume buttons and Ring/Silent mute switch could become on screen buttons. There are options in Control Center and Settings already to change volume and turn off iPhone (I’m not sure about Mute which does not work for Clock alarms anyway). But let’s go with the future flow and say both Volume buttons and the Ring/Silent mute switch become software only.
Without a Lightning connector, those changes would leave iPhone with two microphone holes, four speaker holes, and a Side button for power on and off.
Siri has an Always On function whereby the iPhone’s microphone is on and attuned to listening to the words “Hey Siri…” before responding. That does not work in Power Save Mode, but could a similar listening system be built into the Notch or the display which, when pressed, turns the iPhone on?
10 years is a long time to work that out but it seems plausible. An iPhone without buttons.