Rumor: Apple Bringing Landscape Mode to the Home Screen and New Multitouch Gestures in iOS 4.3

The Apple rumor mill has been churning fast and furiously over the past few weeks. There’s been more white iPhone 4 speculation, some details about the iPhone 5 released, and the rumor that the next iPhone will be without a home button.

Details about iOS 4.3 have started to emerge in light of the beta that Apple recently made available to the developer community. Among these details, it seems that, after the failure of Ping, Apple may be trying its luck again with another social media attempt.

The iPad’s home screen has had landscape mode compatibility since product launch, but Apple has not yet brought that feature to the iPhone. Many have asked for a landscape home screen, but it has been absent from the iPhone for years. Well, that is, until now…

Thanks to an anonymous source (I’m assuming Apple developer), a Youtube video has been posted that shows off some cool features that could be in iOS 4.3, including an enhanced landscape mode and multitouch gestures.

A landscape home screen has been available in the jailbreak community for quite some time. Awhile back, we reviewed a Cydia app called SBRotator, which allowed customizable landscape orientation on a jailbroken iPhone’s home screen.

The biggest complaint about a landscape home screen has been the problem of icon resizing and placement when switching from portrait mode. The iPad succeeds at this task because of how large the screen is, and because of all of the buffer space it puts between icons to support orientation changes.

Apple really has no reason to not implement a landscape home screen. It has already been accomplished successfully by jailbreakers, and it can actually look pretty good.

9to5Mac has posted a Youtube video showing off iOS 4.3’s new multitouch gestures and landscape capability on the iPhone. Most of these features were nowhere to be seen in the public beta. This shows that Apple is testing their own blend of iOS 4.3. (Maybe with new hardware?)

In the beta’s release, these new gestures were only intended to work on the iPad (two, three, four finger swipes, etc.), but someone got their hands on a special version of iOS 4.3 with these new features.

This supports the legitimacy of some leaked screenshots from Apple HQ that show Apple is testing these multitouch gestures in a special version of the iOS 4.3 beta.

Some neat multitouch interaction is demonstrated through the use of multi-finger swipes to switch between apps in a card-like interface (harkening to Palm’s webOS). These gestures seem to support the rumors that Apple’s next iPhone will have a larger display and no home button.

As evidenced in the video, users could use gestures like three and four finger swipes to activate the app switcher and home screen. While the video never explicitly shows the iPhone’s home screen in landscape mode, the app switcher tray is shown in landscape orientation, which, so far, is impossible without something like SBRotator in Cydia.

The video also demonstrates enhanced control of the iPhone’s (former) mute button. In iOS 4.3, this button’s functionality should be assignable, with the choices of orientation lock as well as mute control.

It is a mystery as to how this guy got this special version of iOS. He could be affiliated with Apple, but I doubt it.

However the means, we’re thankful he did, because, prior to this video, the only thing we had to go on was leaked Apple screenshots of the Settings app in 4.3. It’s nice to see these multitouch gestures in action.

Apple is clearly gearing up for something big with all of the rumors and leaks that are popping up everywhere. I think it’s safe to say that there’s some new hardware being tested in Cupertino on iOS 4.3.

What do you think about these additions to iOS 4.3? If the iPhone’s screen was slightly larger, would you be ok with no home button?