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Home / Features / Good riddance to the iPad Home button – now Apple’s tablet finally fulfils its original vision

Good riddance to the iPad Home button – now Apple’s tablet finally fulfils its original vision

The iPad Home button is history – so even Apple’s cheapest tablet is now ‘all screen’

iPad 10 in front of iPad 9

The iPad Home button is dead. At the 7 May ‘Let Loose’ event, Apple quietly hurled the 9th-gen iPad into a recycling bin, and replaced it with what it called the ‘loveable, drawable, magical’ 10th-gen. Which is now just called iPad.

That reminded me of the original iPad. That one was also ‘lovable’. And I still have mine, in an office drawer. (So, um, ‘draw[er]able’? Just go with me here.) And it definitely felt ‘magical’, once it finally arrived in my hands. Which at the time required it to go on an exciting road trip with a courier after an Icelandic volcano inconveniently erupted.

Anyway, the original iPad really did feel like the future. Much like the iPhone, it was designed to effectively ‘become’ the app you were running. And because it had a much larger display than a phone, the scope was much greater. Piano keys in music apps where you didn’t have to file your fingers down to prod them. Large canvases for painting. More space for words when writing or reading.

It was an amazing all-screen device. At least if you ignored the honking great bezels and chunky Home button. And then everything changed.

Go Pro

iPad Pro: 2018
iPad 2018: a masterpiece? You’d bezel believe it.

In 2018, I got an 11in iPad Pro in for review. And it instantly hit me. That original iPad might have been more ‘lovable’, given the characterless slab that was its redesigned successor. But the 2018 model was far more ‘magical’. And that was because the iPad Home button was gone. 

I mean, it wasn’t just because the Home button was gone. But without the requirement to have a thumbable button on the front of the iPad, the device suddenly and for the first time fully represented Apple’s original vision. It ‘became’ the app that was running. Equal bezels meant it didn’t matter which way up you held the tablet. There were now even fewer visual distractions as you waded into the task at hand.

People grumbled. The Home button had long guided everyone and helped them interact with Apple’s touchscreen devices. It was a simple, accessible, friendly way to always return to the Home Screen. And it later became a logical place to add a layer of security, by way of Touch ID. But flicking upwards from the bottom of the display instead soon became second nature. We didn’t need a Home button on a tablet anymore.

Six of it

iPad 1 Home button
Sorry, iPad Home button. It’s time for you to go to the forever drawer.

Yet for six further years, it stuck around anyway, gradually being squeezed out of the iPad line-up like the last dollop of toothpaste. And I’ve no doubt that people will grumble that Apple still hasn’t gone far enough. Even with its fancy new iPad Pro, with its slogan of ‘so powerful it singes your eyebrows’ (possibly – I’ve not read the full press release yet), Apple’s tablet still has bezels. “But surely,” gripe those minimalists during their brief moments not paying homage at the Shrine of Ive, “Apple could feed those bezels to the shredder too?”

Well, no. I’m Team Bezels. I’ve gravitated towards increasingly doing things on an iPad over the years. Music composition. Drawing. Browsing. Games. Writing. And, as I’ve already noted, I don’t want distractions. Remove the bezel and there’s going to be a notch. Ugly. Moreover, there’s no longer going to be a frame. I don’t need what’s on my iPad bleeding into the world around it. It’s not a Vision Pro.

I’m just not Team Bezels That Are Absolutely Huge And House A Home Button. In part because that’s a really long name. But mostly because of the things I’ve said so far. Anyway, how about you now do the same for the iPhone SE, Apple, and ditch its Home button too? It’s more than time.

Profile image of Craig Grannell Craig Grannell Contributor


I’m a regular contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv, covering apps, games, Apple kit, Android, Lego, retro gaming and other interesting oddities. I also pen opinion pieces when the editor lets me, getting all serious about accessibility and predicting when sentient AI smart cookware will take over the world, in a terrifying mix of Bake Off and Terminator.

Areas of expertise

Mobile apps and games, Macs, iOS and tvOS devices, Android, retro games, crowdfunding, design, how to fight off an enraged smart saucepan with a massive stick.