Over the weekend, developer Steve Stroughton Smith tweeted images of the upcoming iPhone 8 he found in the firmware of the new HomePod smart speaker. The firmware includes a sketch of the front face of the phone (taken up almost entirely by display), and scattered references to a facial-recognition unlock feature. There’s also a notched-out area at the top of the phone that may house the laser and sensor used for facial recognition.
The leak strongly suggests that the facial recognition will be used to authenticate users and unlock the phone, including for high-security services like Apple Pay.
The bezel-less iPhone image can be extracted from Payment_glyph_phone-D22.caar in PassKitUIFoundation.framework with the code pictured pic.twitter.com/HAyDO0E931
— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) July 31, 2017
Apple reportedly had difficulty including a fingerprint sensor in the design of the iPhone 8 because all that display space left no room at the bottom front of the phone for Touch ID. This new leak adds more credence to those reports, and raises the remarkable possibility that Apple will depend on facial recognition as a replacement for the fingerprint reader.
This may seem like a dramatic step forward for the iPhone, or even a risky one, but it’s very unlikely that Apple would release the feature if it didn’t work reliably and securely. In the worst-case scenario, a user might not be able to unlock the iPhone 8 or use Apple Pay using facial recognition, but would have to default to entering a password.