Historically, Apple has released the firmware code for its upcoming products well ahead of their debut, allowing developers to get acquainted with all the features and capabilities they’ll bring to the table before they hit store shelves. Following tradition, the Cupertino-company last week released the first firmware build of its upcoming Siri-speaker, HomePod, giving developers their first glimpse into the framework that will drive the company’s premium, standalone Siri device.
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t long after the HomePod’s code was released that developers began discovering hidden details about other products hidden within it. For example, one of Apple’s more vocal, Twitter-friendly developers, Steve Troughton-Smith, has discovered some noteworthy bits of information about the upcoming iPhone 8 hidden deep within the HomePod’s code, which appears to lend credence to some of the flagship’s more highly-publicized features.
iPhone 8 Design Seemingly Confirmed
First and foremost is the 10th anniversary flagship’s physical design, shown in the vector image below, which Troughton-Smith says he discovered buried deep within the HomePod’s code responsible for handling authentication of Apple Pay transactions.
The image, Troughton-Smith said, was in the form of a “core animation archive file,” which is Apple’s traditional format for storing such images in firmware so they can be displayed within the UI at any resolution. The code appears to further hint at the iPhone 8’s internal codename, “D22,” which was leaked in December of last year on the popular Chinese social networking site, Weibo.
‘Face ID’ Biometric Facial Recognition
In addition to the iPhone 8’s design, which coincides just beautifully with a number of previous leaks, Troughton-Smith said he discovered a section of code hinting that the device will indeed support a facial unlock feature — however it’s unclear if the facial recognition technology will outright replace Touch ID, as some analysts have suggested. While the code, shown in the Tweet below, is essentially cryptic to the rest of us, Troughton-Smith explains how it indicates the presence of a so-called “infra-red face unlock” framework within Apple’s BiometricKit, which is the same framework upon which Touch ID is built and functions.
I can confirm reports that HomePod’s firmware reveals the existence of upcoming iPhone’s infra-red face unlock in BiometricKit and elsewhere pic.twitter.com/yLsgCx7OTZ
— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) July 31, 2017
While scant on details, Troughton-Smith does go on to claim that Apple’s facial unlock feature will be built upon a significantly more advanced framework than Samsung’s Iris scanner, which will allow it to detect parts of a users face, or faces from various angles. This would coincide with previous rumors hinting that Apple’s iPhone 8 will implement a 3D/AR element courtesy of a built in VCSEL system, allowing the advanced camera to capture and authenticate a user’s face from a variety of different angles.
Some analysts have expressed skepticism about Apple’s facial recognition functionality and specifically how viable it will prove as a biometric security feature. Nevertheless, Troughton-Smith notes, Apple’s framework seems to hint at a fairly advanced level of security, citing how it appears to be capable of checking against things like images and even 3D models of a user’s face.