The latest build of the iOS 5 beta shows off a new gesture-based accessibility panel that removes the need for every physical button besides the on-off switch.  Perhaps all those rumors that Apple wants to do away with the physical Home button aren’t so far-fetched after all?

9 to 5 Mac released a video and screenshots today that show off new gesture-based controls on both the iPad and iPhone that could be used just for accessibility, or it might be leading to something a whole lot more.  These new onscreen controls will allow you to do things such as control the screen orientation, raise or lower the volume, lock the device and more.  There is no clue as of yet if this is just some optional thing people can turn on or if it will be present at all times in the system.

My personal suspicion?  We know Apple CEO Steve Jobs likes to do away with physical buttons, and this is definitely a step in that direction.  While I don’t expect Apple to do away with everything at once, this may be a bridge to what we will see on a future iPhone.  Remember, we’re hearing that the iPhone 5 is just a minor upgrade, and the iPhone 6 will be a massive redesign, so this very well could be a way to just break in users slowly to the concept of no longer having physical buttons to deal with.

Again, and we stress this, for now, this is just an accessibility feature for people with disabilities or those that choose to use it.  We’ll just have to wait and see what Apple chooses to do with it.

You can see more images below, all courtesy of 9 to 5 Mac.

[via 9 to 5 Mac]