The HomePod firmware code dump is quickly turning into Apple’s Panama Papers, with respect to leaks pertaining to this year’s new iPhone.
To recap: Code for the HomePod, Apple’s forthcoming smart home device, was mistakenly posted online at the end of last month, and developers were quick to trawl it for hints about features in the next major iPhone. Snippets of code appeared to confirm that the iPhone 8 will feature an infrared facial recognition system referred to as ‘Pearl ID’, that it would be able to operate even if the phone is lying on a flat surface, and that it will be used for authentication on Apple Pay and third party apps.
Now, new findings have turned up. Guilherme Rambo, who did much of the previous detective work, now says he has found code indicating that multiple faces can be added to Pearl ID, meaning the same device can authenticate the faces of multiple authorized users. Another code snippet suggests that the iPhone will mute notifications when the user is looking at it, which implies that facial recognition will be a feature that is always on.
Perhaps most significant is the appearance of the phrase ‘multi biometric’ in the code, which could point to multi-factor authentication. That, in turn, would suggest that Apple isn’t going to ditch its Touch ID fingerprint scanning system for the new iPhone, as some have speculated, but rather that facial and fingerprint recognition can be combined for even greater security.
Of course, this will all remain speculation until Apple actually confirms these features when it makes its iPhone 8 announcement, which is anticipated to come in September.