One of the changes that Apple made to its iPhones in recent years is the removal of the physical home button in favor of a solid-state button. This simulated the home button but because it doesn’t move, it means that it is less prone to mechanical failure (something iPhone users have been dealing with).
While we have yet to hear widespread reports of the Apple Watch’s digital crown failing, Apple could be attempting to get ahead of that potential problem. In a report from Fast Company, they claim that their sources have told them that in future Apple Watches, Apple is expected to employ the use of a touch-sensitive, solid-state button.
The button itself can still be spun around like a dial, except that in terms of tactility, it will simulate the home button on the newer iPhones where the Taptic Engine will provide users with haptic feedback that indicates the button has been pressed. In addition to reducing mechanical failure, the removal of the physical button also frees up space inside of the watch which could allow for a bigger battery.
Fast Company is unclear when this new button will be deployed for use in the Apple Watch, but they have suggested that it will arrive either this year or next year. We have heard rumors that the Apple Watch Series 4 could feature a new design with a larger display, so perhaps this solid-state button could be part of it, but until we get the official details, take it with a grain of salt for now.