A new patent recently filed by Apple lays out plans to unleash iPhones and iPads covered with sensors that could make buttons like Home and Sleep/Wake obsolete:

"For instance, holding an iPad-style tablet with one hand could trigger the slate to activate the sensors on the other side of the hardware, so that only the controlling hand can use them. Meanwhile on-screen controls could be shifted across accordingly. Smaller devices could... react to individual or chorded input from the fingers holding the handset; that would allow for single-handed use of an iPhone, for instance."

Filed Tuesday, the patent states that sensors could be placed under a device's touchscreen, or even within its casing. This means that instead of having a homescreen button to press, one would simply swipe their finger along the bottom of the device to get back to their home page. (Sounds like Palm devices, doesn't it?)

Likewise, locking the device, or adjusting the volume, could use similar swipe related gestures in place of buttons. Apple's abandonment of buttons would also lead to sleeker, smoother idevices that would definitely fit with the company's reputation for creating ultra-modern, aesthetically pleasing products.

Rumors of Apple working on multitouch casings and bezels have been around for a while so while we never know if anything from the labs will ever make it into real, production devices, it does look like they're still actively pursuing the idea.

What do you say folks, is a buttonless iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch something that you would want? Sound off in the comments section and let us know what you think!


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