HomePod firmware reveals iPhone 8 design and facial recognition

Last week, Apple released the firmware of its upcoming smart speaker, the HomePod. It sounds like it was pushed out a bit earlier than expected as it isn’t supposed to come out until later this year. Steve Troughton-Smith took advantage of that to find out that the next iPhone is going to feature facial recognition and a brand new “bezel-less” design.

Patents and previous rumors already hinted at facial recognition for the iPhone 8. Rumor has it that Apple could either replace or complement the Touch ID fingerprint sensor with a brand new facial recognition technology.

While facial recognition isn’t new, Steve Troughton-Smith found references to infra-red face unlock in BiometricKit, the framework behind Touch ID. Codenamed Pearl ID, the feature should let you unlock your iPhone in the dark, even if you’re looking at your phone from a weird angle with your face partially blocked.

If all of this is true, this should be quite a neat replacement for Touch ID. If Apple wants to replace Touch ID with something else, it has to be at least as accurate and fast as Touch ID. The main concern with facial recognition is that you have to hold your phone in front of your face in a brightly lit room.

It sounds like Apple is aware of that. Now let’s hope that it only takes a fraction of a second to unlock your phone as the current Touch ID sensor is incredibly fast. Rumor has it that Apple tried to embed the Touch ID sensor in the display itself. But it might not be ready for prime time just yet as Apple has to produce tens of millions of devices per year with this technology.

As for the design of the next iPhone, many reports, leaks and dummy devices indicate that Apple is working on a more powerful iPhone 7s as well as a brand new super premium phone. This rumored “iPhone 8” is going to feature a taller screen that is going to completely fill the front of the device, except for the speaker, camera and sensors at the top:

Guilherme Rambo‏ found an icon representing the upcoming iPhone in the HomePod firmware. The new phone is currently codenamed D22, and you can find this icon in the Apple Pay framework. It confirms previous leaks and the cutout at the top, but this time it’s coming straight from Apple’s servers.

You may remember that the MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar also leaked in the Apple Pay framework for macOS. If Apple follows its usual pattern, the company should reveal new iPhone models in early September.

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