SAN FRANCISCO - Almost a week after the Apple faithful collectively gasped at the first evidence that the iPhone’s red "end call" button might soon be vacating its center position to take up residence one column to the right, it looks like it might have been mostly a false alarm.
The initial shock followed the release of last week's test, or beta, version of iOS 17, the next major update of the iPhone’s operating software. That's where users first saw the end-call button, which has traditionally lived in splendid isolation centered well below function buttons such as "mute," "keypad" and "speaker," instead joining its peers and taking a more assimilated position in the lower right-hand corner of a six-button block.
Now, though, images of the latest iOS 17 beta shared by multiple media sites shows the red button right back in the center of the phone dialpad, pretty close to where it’s long staked out its territory. But it's still not alone; now it's in the second row, center seat of that six button block, where it appears to be daring you to try hanging up without also opening the keypad or accidentally adding another participant to your call.
To be fair, it's always difficult to draw firm conclusions from beta software releases, which are intended both to help engineers hunt down bugs and to gauge user reaction to changes large and small. So they're a bit experimental by nature, and some experiments fare better than others.
But we don't have much choice but to speculate whether the end-call button's wanderings have come to an end. Apple typically doesn't comment on its design process — or much of anything else — and did not reply to a request for comment from The Associated Press.