HomePod leak reveals details of next iPhone
It’s like the iPhone 4 all over again, writes Michael Simon
I f you were following Apple back in 2010, you remember the infamous iPhone 4 leak. The handset that introduced the world to FaceTime, the Retina display, and a stunning design that lives on to this day in the iPhone SE was plastered all over Gizmodo some two months before its formal
introduction. Even in the age of rumour sites and Reddit, it was a rare red-faced moment for Apple.
And from the looks of it, it has happened again. No, the iPhone 8 wasn’t left in a California bar by an absent-minded Apple employee, but a ton of information about the next iPhone was inadvertently leaked by an unwitting engineer. A pre-release version of the HomePod firmware was accidentally uploaded to a public server recently, and naturally, developers quickly downloaded it and starting digging for clues. And boy were there a lot of them.
1. The bezels are shrinking, big time
The very existence of the iPhone 8 in an ‘S’ year tells us that it will be a radical change from the current iPhone design, but Apple has all but confirmed just how different it will look. According to a scalable vector image spotted by developer Steven Troughton-Smith, the new handset design matches up with the rumours of an all-screen front that dispenses of the Home button. The picture isn’t very detailed, but it does show a design somewhat reminiscent of the LG G6, but with uniform skinny bezels all around.
2. There will be a camera notch
One of the defining – and likely controversial – aspects of the new iPhone appears to be a notch at the top of the screen for the camera and sensors. And Apple isn’t trying to hide it. In the iPhone 8 icon discovered inside the firmware, the crude drawing
clearly shows a notch jutting into the top of the screen. We’ve seen a similar design in the upcoming Essential phone, though Apple’s is far more pronounced.
Purists might balk at the seemingly un-Apple-like decision, but it might not be so bad in practice. Troughton-Smith found references to a new ‘split’ status bar that would presumably place the battery and Wi-Fi icons around the notch, and he also notes that the status bar “seems a lot more complex and powerful in design, maybe even interactive”.
3. The screen will be even better
Ever since the iPhone 4 introduced us to the pixelless world of Retina displays, nearly every Apple display has shifted to the eye-friendly standard (sorry MacBook Air fans). But now it seems as though the iPhone will up the ante again. During his code spelunking, Troughton-Smith found references to a new screen resolution of 2436x1125 with a robust a 521ppi pixel density. The would represent a healthy bump from the 1334x750 and 1920x1080 resolutions in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, respectively.
4. AR is a big deal
Apple is killing it when it comes to augmented reality. While its ARKit platform was only just released at WWDC in June, developers have
already made some truly amazing things with it, and it’s clear that Apple has big plans for AR. But it will be the iPhone 8 that fully unlocks its potential. We’ve already read rumours of a 3D laser system and a depth-sensing camera, but Troughton-Smith also spotted a curious reference to ‘ARFaceAnchor’ in the HomePod firmware. This suggests that there will be specific AR features tailored for the iPhone 8.
5. Touch ID likely out, Face ID definitely in
Rumours have already suggested that Touch ID will be going away in the iPhone 8, and TroughtonSmith’s probing seemingly confirms it. Not only did he not find a single mention of the under-thedisplay ‘ultrasound’ Touch ID we were all hoping for, he discovered a trove of ’BKFaceDetect’ references inside the BiometricKit framework, alluding to a new system of unlocking the phone using our mugs rather than our fingers. Based on his findings, Troughton-Smith has surmised that the new system, code named Pearl ID, will support multiple faces and use an infrared sensor for low-light situations. And there’s also a ‘passbook. payment. contactless interface’ reference suggesting Apple Pay support as well.
6. A tap will wake the screen
Without a home button on the front, we’re going to have a harder time unlocking our iPhones when they’re resting on a table, but Apple has apparently solved that problem. Troughton-Smith spotted a
reference to tap-to-wake, meaning you’ll be able to tap or double-tap on the screen to bring it to life. Android phones have enjoyed the feature for years, but it would be a new – and welcome – addition to the iPhone.
7. The home button goes digital
Without a physical home button, Apple will need to go the Android route and make a virtual one on the screen to aid with navigation. So it’s no surprise that Troughton-Smith found repeated references to a ‘home indicator’ that will seemingly only appear when you need it. What’s more, the previously rumoured ‘function area’ looks to be legit. The resolution Troughton-Smith unearthed suggests apps will only take up a 5.15in portion of the rumoured 5.8in screen, presumably leaving an area at the bottom for buttons and shortcuts.
A virtual home button like this concept will likely replace the physical one