New button: Allegedly freely assignable “Action Button” for iPhone 15 Pro

Big operating changes in the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max: As previously reported, Apple is apparently planning a transition to fixed solid-state buttons for volume, sleep/wake and mute this year. But the latter slide switch could be replaced by a special button, according to a new report from MacRumors. A leaker who was correct in the past claims that Apple is planning a freely assignable action button for the iPhone for the first time, which has so far only been known from the Apple Watch Ultra.

The transition to solid-state keys means that going forward, they can only appear to be pressed. Capacitive technology recognizes when you touch it in certain places or apply pressure to it – the iPhone’s integrated Taptic Engine, a vibration motor, then simulates the feedback.

The process has the advantage that Apple needs fewer mechanically active parts and can better seal the devices against dust and water. According to the latest information, the manufacturer should even provide a special low-energy microprocessor that continues to work even when the iPhone actually has no power to ensure that the user does not lose control and can, for example, reset the device can.

According to the new leak, the group now also wants to use the conversion to give the iPhone an action button. This is intended to replace the slide switch for muting and is quite small – located above a new, long volume button. According to the MacRumors leaker, the action button can be freely assigned numerous functions. This includes muting previously, activating the flashlight, turning on night mode, activating battery saver mode, launching shortcuts and much more. Even the display of the home, notification or lock screen can be implemented via the button, as can the start of accessibility functions such as a magnifying glass or VoiceOver.

It is still unclear how Apple will carry out the exact implementation. Incidentally, the idea is not entirely new: for several years now, you have been able to use the back-tap function (“tap on the back”), which is unfortunately little known, to call up numerous features – including a flashlight or screenshot. The feature has been available since iOS 14 and can be activated via the accessibility settings. The Apple Watch Ultra also has its own action button. This can start fitness tracking, trigger the flashlight function, help with navigation or trigger a shortcut. iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max – possibly complemented by an iPhone 15 Ultra – should be available in September 2023.

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