On the iPad 3 home button

After months of rumors, Apple finally sent out media invitations yesterday to what appears to be its highly anticipated iPad 3 event. As expected, the keynote will take place next Wednesday, March 7th in San Francisco, California.

The invites themselves, which feature a picture of what most believe to be Apple’s new tablet, have sparked some interesting conversations throughout the web as pundits attempt to identify Apple’s embedded clues.

But there’s one particular element of the photo that has everyone perplexed: where is the iPad’s Home button?

The iPad depicted in the invitation appears to be missing a Home button, leading to a lot of speculation that Apple’s next tablet won’t have one. But is the company really ready to ditch the popular feature?

Gizmodo sure seems to think so:

“Not only that, but there seems to be NO home button, which explains the mention of the “And touch.” in their invitation. How can we know? First, the photo they are showing is on portrait mode. You can’t achieve that icon spacing in the landscape mode (which is the only explanation for the lack of home button).

Moreover, the icon falls right onto the same water drop that the current iPad 2 falls while in portrait mode. The same happens with the reflection on the dock.”

So then it’s settled, right? No Home button? Not exactly. There are still a number of explanations for why we don’t see a Home button in the photo. Perhaps it’s hidden behind the user’s hand. Or maybe, despite what some are saying, the iPad is in landscape mode. You would think if it were in portrait mode, we would see page dots (you know, the dots above the dock the show you what Spring board page you’re on).

The point is, we are all likely reading way too much into the image. As MG Siegler notes, the chances of Apple leaking a major design change in one of its biggest product releases of the year via an event invitation are slim to none.

But hey, it’s fun to speculate.

What do you think, will Apple’s next tablet have a physical Home button?