This is a rather beautiful concept for what the next-gen iPhone could look like, courtesy of French designer Antoine Brieux. . It’s fanciful stuff, of course, featuring a Liquid Metal casing, but what I find most interesting is this idea that the home button could be replaced with a “virtual home button” that displays on a larger 4.5-inch widescreen display.   Since there’d be no physical home button, Apple could increase the touchscreen’s aspect ratio to 16:9 and make it bigger while (almost) keeping the same form factor, and when an app needed to use that extra bit of display, the home button would whisk away. Totally improbable, of course. If Apple’s going to ditch the home button, which I doubt they ever will, they won’t do something as half-assed and indecisive as virtualize it. Still, it’s an interesting notion, and really does show how much room that damn home button takes up. Ditching it would clear up a lot of real estate, even if it serves an important purpose for grounding a user and always keeping them aware of where they are in the operating system, and how to get home.             [via Nowhere Else]

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