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Bye Bye, Buttons

A couple of weeks ago there was a flurry of speculation that the upcoming iPad 2 - and maybe even the iPhone 5 - might get rid of the Home button. The excitement was sparked by Apple including some new multi-touch features in the beta of the next version of the iOS operating system. But then it turned out Apple was just giving developers a preview of the new features, and didn't plan to share them with users for some time. So the Home button, it looks like, is here to stay.

Well, if you're a button-hater, Google might be about to jump into your good books. The company says that as far as its operating system Android is concerned, buttons are pretty much optional.

The Motorola Xoom - which is pretty much considered the flagship product for the tablet version of Android, nicknamed 'Honeycomb' - eschews Android's traditional 'home', 'menu', 'back' and 'search' buttons in favour of on-screen alternatives. And apparently, Google are A-OK with that - so much so that we'll probably see buttonless Android phones as well. 'No matter how you hold the tablet, you always know where to find the buttons -- on the bottom left,' Google engineer Andy Burke said recently.

Soon our phones will just be featureless black slates. And we'll have to start sticking stickers with our names on to tell them apart - and to tell which is the back...

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