Apple looks to have introduced a neat new feature with its latest iOS 5 beta update: a touch sensitive control panel to help those who might struggle with gestures and hardware controls.
The new version of iOS5 (beta 3 if you're counting) includes a moveable on-screen button that can be placed anywhere on the display. When tapped it opens up context sensitive options wheel like rotate, shake, volume up or down and even a home button.
Screenshots posted on the web by developers who've found the new feature show how you can use the new accessibility functions to control virtually any aspect of iOS with just one finger.
Clearly it is aimed at those with disabilities who might struggle with multitouch or pushing the physical volume and home buttons making the phone a lot more accessible than it currently is with iOS 4.3. But those keen to hypothesise, it also shows how you could, in theory, operate iOS without any buttons whatsoever - hinting at a future that could possibly see Apple hardware exist with nothing but a touch screen.
The problem is that the home button itself is wired so intrinsically into iOS that without any physical keys the iPhone and iPod software would need a significant redesign. Also making it clear which was the top and bottom of a screen at a glance would be difficult given Apple's current approach to design.
While the rumour mill will read into it what they will we are sure it's just Apple trying to make iOS 5 much better for those who struggle with buttons, but who knows, given it is still in development stages you may see Apple implementing the technology in different ways when iOS 5 is finally released.
Like the idea? Or should Apple keep iOS the same?