Fingerprint authentication technology is becoming increasingly common on smartphones as sensor manufacturing gets cheaper. At this time, fingerprint sensors are primarily available on high-end models from Apple and Samsung, but are experiencing a growing popularity. Rumors regarding Apple's possible removal of the iPhone's home button have been around since 2011, but AppleInsider has recently received information that leads us to believe that Apple is finally going to replace the home button and replace it with Touch ID.
Apple is currently developing "touch and display driver integration single-chip solutions" for the next iPhones. In-house employees have said that the chips will include fingerprint sensors, which would allow for a new design without the home button, making the device's entire face the display.
Apple has shown strong interest in patents, acquisitions and embedding Touch ID technology to touch screens. It acquired AuthenTec, a fingerprint technology company, in 2012. This was done in anticipation of making iPhone display panels that are are very thin and narrow and integrating Touch ID to eliminate the home button to allow smaller designs. The subsequent launch of the iPhone 5S that featured Touch ID was a great was to increase awareness of the technology and its possible applications.
However, with no projected release date indicated in AppleInsider's source, it is unlikely that Apple has any real plans to lose the home button on the iPhones in the immediate future. Maybe this has something more to do with the possible new, larger iPad we mentioned in a previous post.