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Apple HomePod firmware reveals 'iPhone 8' bezel-less design, facial recognition

Screenshot via developer Steven Troughton-Smith.

Sometimes the best source of Apple leaks is Apple itself, as revealed by the company's HomePod firmware, which apparently includes a rough sketch of the front face of the "iPhone 8," as well as references to its anticipated facial recognition unlock feature.

The details hidden within the software for Apple's upcoming Siri-enabled speaker were published by developer Steven Troughton-Smith on Sunday. It reveals that the upcoming flagship "iPhone 8" will include infrared technology to recognize a user's face in a wide range of conditions and securely unlock the phone, as has long been rumored.

But the latest leak goes well beyond supply chain rumors: Apple's own HomePod firmware refers to a feature codenamed "Pearl ID," which includes "FaceDetect" references. Various errors found in the code include a face that is too close or too far from the camera, and conditions for timeouts, multiple faces, and much more.

In addition, a rough outline of the new iPhone form factor was also discovered in the HomePod firmware. It shows a largely bezel-less handset lacking a home button, with an indentation in the display at the top for the earpiece and camera array.

Image credit: Nodus and Gordon Kelly

The outline shown in the leak is consistent with previous leaks that are expected to show the design of the forthcoming handset.

The firmware indicates that the bezel-less "iPhone 8" is identified as "D22."

In addition, developer Guilherme Rambo also discovered a reference to an "iPhone9,9" model, which could be the anticipated "iPhone 7s." In all, Apple is expected to introduce three new iPhones this fall: A flagship "iPhone 8" with an edge-to-edge OLED display, and an "iPhone 7s" and "iPhone 7s Plus" that will feature largely the same design as the current iPhone 7 series.

All three handsets are expected to be unveiled by Apple at a media presentation in September, which is the company's usual timeframe for introducing new handsets. However, the "iPhone 8" is rumored to cost more than $1,000 and could be limited in supply, due to a number of advanced technologies expected to be included in the device, which has led to some commentators referring to the device as an "iPhone Pro."

Given its expected limited availability and premium pricing, observers believe the "iPhone 7s" may prove to be the most popular model with most consumers. That device is rumored to feature a faster processor, improved waterproofing, and inductive wireless charging.

As for the "iPhone 8," market watchers expect it may launch later than usual, in October or November. Beyond an edge-to-edge OLED display and new facial recognition technology, it is also expected to feature a vertical dual lens camera arrangement, and is rumored to bring about the end of the physical home button.