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'iPhone 8' software bar expected to replace Apple's iconic home button with gesture controls

Rather than presenting a virtual home button, the so-called "iPhone 8" is expected to instead offer a new software bar that could dramatically change how the iPhone is used, introducing new gesture controls for returning to the home screen and switching between apps.

The "iPhone 8" is also said to have a longer home button.

The details come from Bloomberg, which claims to have seen images of the new flagship "iPhone 8" and its user interface. The premium handset is widely expected to have an edge-to-edge OLED display that will, for the first time ever, get rid of the home button that has been on every single iPhone model to date.

Wednesday's new report claims that rather than emulating a home button, the "iPhone 8" display will include a new "thin, software bar" that can users drag up to the middle of the screen to open the phone. A similar gesture is said to invoke multitasking, replacing the double-tap of the home button found on all current models, while continuing to flick upwards returns to the home screen.

The multitasking view is also said to have been redesigned, presenting recently used apps as "a series of standalone cards that can be swiped through, versus the stack of cards on current iPhones."

Wednesday's report claims Apple won't hide the "notch" at the top of the "iPhone 8" OLED display.

The functionality is somewhat similar to how the new dock works in iOS 11 on iPad, as a quick swipe up from the bottom of the screen shows a list of apps, while swiping further brings up multitasking and control center. The difference on the "iPhone 8," however, will be the introduction of the new "software bar" that users will access to navigate the phone.

Another new detail from Bloomberg claims that Apple will embrace, rather than hide, the so-called "notch" at the top of the display. While boasting an edge-to-edge screen, a cutout in the middle at the top of the display will house the earpiece and new forward facing camera array with facial recognition technology for unlocking the device.

According to the report, the user interface will show a "definitive cutout" for the notch at the top of the display, leaving what Apple employees have internally referred to as "ears" at the top left and right. It is there where information such as cellular reception, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity will be displayed.

The other details in the report reaffirm earlier leaks, including a larger lock/power button on the right side of the handset, and a metal band around the exterior with antenna cuts.

All will be revealed on Sept. 12, when Apple will to hold a keynote presentation to introduce the "iPhone 8," which is also said to include wireless charging. It will be unveiled alongside "iPhone 7s" models that will look largely similar to the current iPhone 7 series, but include faster processors and wireless charging.

Apple is also believed to be planning to introduce a new Apple Watch "Series 3" with LTE connectivity, and an improved Apple TV with 4K resolution and support for HDR content.