iPhone 8’s much rumoured edge-to-edge display was all-but confirmed by the code
It has been an unbelievable month for iPhone 8 rumours.
Code distributed by Apple has revealed a slew of new details about the upcoming flagship smartphone – and even revealed the final design of the new iPhone.
Firmware for the upcoming Apple HomePod, which was first announced during the World Wide Developers Conference, includes a number of references to unannounced features and hardware.
Renown iOS app developer Steve Troughton-Smith this week unearthed the reference to Face ID within the reams of code.
The feature looks set to enable iPhone 8 owners to unlock their device with a glance.
The iOS developer said he discovered the code as part of a batch of code that refers to something new dubbed ‘BiometricKit’.
Whether Face ID will replace Touch ID – as was rumoured earlier this summer – remains to be seen.
Alongside the new biometric unlock method, Troughton-Smith also uncovered an icon that appears to confirm the design of the next-generation Apple iPhone 8.
The small icon resembles the simple line drawings Apple uses to represent devices within the sidebar on macOS Finder windows.
This new icon appears to confirm the bezel-less iPhone 8 design.
The renown iOS developer uncovered the glyph for the iPhone 8 deep inside the Apple code
It appears to show the almost edge-to-edge AMOLED display – believed to around 5.8-inches – with no physical Home Button and a small notch in the top bezel to house the front-facing cameras.
But how could this happen? How did the notoriously-secretive Apple manage to publish its own secrets?
Apple pundit John Gruber has published a blog post on DaringFireball that reveals how this colossal mistake might have happened.
“My understanding is that Apple is (or at least was) on the cusp of a widespread deployment of prototype HomePods to employees,” Gruber writes.
“Someone prepared an over-the-air software update and because it was intended to be distributed only to Apple employees, the OS was compiled without all the usual flags set to omit code that pertains to unreleased hardware.”
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
Apple has the ability to lockdown and hide certain features within its own code – allowing it to work on features internally that never appear in beta software distributed to developers.
The HomePod software did not include any of these flags since the beta software was for an unreleased product and therefore should never have been distributed to external developers.
John Gruber concludes: “Building the OS without those flags set may not have been a mistake. But distributing it via a world-readable server was.”
As well as hinting at new features set to debut with the iPhone 8, the HomePod code also disproved a number of prominent rumours about the device.
Designer Martin Hajek has created a render of the iPhone 8, based on the latest rumours
Apple has purportedly tried to embed its Touch ID fingerprint scanner technology beneath the edge-to-edge glass display that will feature on the iPhone 8.
The low yield rate of this cutting-edge technology was believed to have caused a bottleneck in production.
However, these rumours may have been without foundation.
According to Troughton-Smith, the HomePod code does not offer any indication of in-screen Touch ID.
The iOS developer claims there is no evidence suggesting “ultra-sound” under-display Touch ID, which is the technology that earlier patents and rumours had pointed towards.
“Looks like not this year, quash that one,” Troughton-Smith tweeted.
The iPhone 8’s Function Area, located where the Home Button used to be, has been disproved
This lends credence to earlier reports Apple plans to relocate Touch ID to the back of the phone or the Sleep-Wake button on the side of the iPhone.
Another prominent rumour quashed by Troughton-Smith is the existence of a so-called Function Area in the edge-to-edge display.
According to earlier rumours, despite the iPhone 8’s OLED display measuring 5.8-inches in total, Apple purportedly planned to limit the primary touchscreen area to around 5.15-inches.
The rest of the multi-touch real estate on the front of the phone would be reserved for a row of virtual on-screen buttons.
This separate so-called Function Area, housed beneath the main display, would intelligently adapt to whatever happened on-screen, bringing menu items and shortcuts to your fingertips, similar to the Touch Bar included on the latest MacBook Pro.
Troughton-Smith says he has seen nothing in the iOS variant that even hints at the rumoured Function Area, leading him to conclude that it’s will simply be standard screen space.
It looks like the iPhone 8 will include a virtual Home Button, capable of hiding itself in certain contexts so as to not take-up screen real estate.
As for how Troughton-Smith has managed to draw all of these iPhone 8 conclusions from firmware designed for the HomePod, he has explained that the Siri-enabled smart speaker’s firmware is essentially the same as the iPhone firmware, save a few changes.
Previous rumours suggest the iPhone 8 will include OIS, Optical Image Stabilisation, for both lens used in the rear dual-camera set-up – something missing from the telephoto lens in the iPhone 7 Plus.
It is also expected to ship with an OLED display with True Tone, a technology that Apple debuted with its 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and ProMotion, which launched this year with the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.