If you had any doubts about Apple releasing a bezel-free iPhone in September, you can probably throw those out the window. The company just pushed out a version of the HomePod firmware, and not only does the code tell us more about how Apple’s smart speaker will work, it also offers a few clues about the next iPhone.
Developer Steve Troughton-Smith spotted the release on Friday morning and has been tweeting out his discoveries since then. Based on the firmware, the HomePod is essentially a big iPhone with no screen, Troughton-Smith says. The device even shows up as an iPhone SE in the iTunes Store, although Troughton-Smith reveals, “there doesn’t seem to be any kind of provision in the HomePod OS shell for installing apps or extensions.” So don’t expect any special HomePod apps right out of the gate. There’s also some code that describes a simple LED display on top of the HomePod, one that could show basic symbols like “+” and “-” and maybe weather icons. Otherwise, the code just looks a lot like boring old iOS:
And then comes the good stuff. After nearly two days of sleuthing, Troughton-Smith found some code that appears to reveal a new feature that would let you unlock an iPhone with your face. Rumors suggest that this feature will show up on the next iPhone and perhaps even replace the Touch ID button. Presumably, this would allow Apple to expand the iPhone screen and introduce a bezel-free design, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8. Guess what? That rumor seems to be confirmed by the HomePod firmware, too:
Bingo-bango, that’s a good iPhone leak! We obviously won’t know exactly what the next iPhone will look like until Apple announces it, but these new details are hard to overlook. Plus, Apple isn’t quite the ironclad vault of secrets it once was. Since the iPhone 4 debacle, every iPhone has essentially looked just like the rumors said it would, save a stray feature here or there. We have no reason to believe that the next iPhone release will be any different.
Let’s hope it’s not, too. The idea of a big, beautiful OLED display on the iPhone 8 (or whatever it will be called) is exciting. It could change the way apps work and how we use our phones. It would also be very pretty, for sure. Apple is very good at making pretty things.
Update 9:45am 8/1/2017 - But wait there’s more. As Troughton-Smith and others continued to sift through the HomePod code, they found more references to details about the new iPhone, like the lack of a home button:
There’s also a nod to Windows Phone-style “tap to wake” functionality:
And finally, it looks like the new iPhone will have facial expression recognition, so it will always know how you’re feeling when it spots your mug:
For more information on how these developers uncovered this Apple self-own, Gizmodo alum Brian Barrett has a nice interview with them over at Wired.