Early last week Apple mistakenly uploaded its new HomePod Pre-release firmware to public servers on July 31, 2017. Before Apple could pull it down, developers like Steve Troughton-Smith were dissecting it, word for word to see what it contained.
Here’s a breakdown of the 5 most interesting features found in that firmware.
#1 – ‘The Notch’
The ‘Top Notch Design’ as it’s being called was all but confirmed according to what was hidden in the firmware. This design, being called the ‘notch’, was seen first on phones like the Essential phone and on the Sharp Aquos S2. Even though the leaked firmware didn’t contain any actual picture of the iPhone 8’s screen, a diagrammatic representation of an iPhone prototype clearly confirms the notch’s presence.
These are the metrics used by the status bar on the edge-to-edge iPhone, including notch height and ear width. Designers, have fun pic.twitter.com/lPD2RbEJFA
— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) August 10, 2017
— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) August 10, 2017
These findings reveal how the upper part of the iPhone 8 could look. There are still remaining parts of the interface which need to be confirmed. For example, the time display, which has consistently appeared on the top bar of every iPhone, is not shown. Also, the two corners are possibly wide enough to fit the status bar, carrier name, battery status and the battery percentage icon. We still are not sure where the Bluetooth, WiFi, Location, Alarm, Lock-screen rotation lock, and other icons like Do not disturb will be located.
Face ID is almost certain to be the iPhone 8’s secure unlocking and ApplePay’s secure ID feature. We heard leaks about Apple trying and most likely failing at integrating Touch ID behind the iPhone;’s display. We heard and saw other leaks that showed cases with rear ‘Touch ID’ sized openings, indicating it would be on the rear of the iPhone as it is on some Android phones.
Now, the HomePod firmware suggests the presence of an infra-red face unlock feature, meaning Apple could be going in a completely different direction. Named ‘Pearl ID’ in the code, this feature relies on sensors mounted next to the earpiece to detect a face to unlock the phone. Apparently, it will be able to scan your face even when the phone is resting flat on a surface like a table.
#3 – Higher Resolution Display
Once again, from the HomePod firmware, we’ve discerned that the iPhone 8 will finally have a higher display resolution. The 5.8-inch display is said to contain a 2436 x 1125 pixel resolution. John Gruber of Daring Fireball explained why the iPhone 8 will most likely come with the aforementioned 2436 x 1125 pixel resolution.
If that becomes the iPhone 8’s resolution, that puts the pixel density at 462 PPI, which is a small improvement over the 400 ppi 5.5-inch iPhone Plus models, but a large improvement over the 326 ppi 4.7-inch iPhone model. If John Gruber’s calculations are accurate, this will also mean that the iPhone 8 will show content at true 3x Retina resolution, and there’s a good chance of it being accurate, as the leaked code points to 1920 x 1080 and 2436 x 1125 as 2 distinct resolutions.
There are little tidbits in the OS suggesting upcoming iPhone will have a 3x screen at 1125×2436. Hard to gauge what that will mean for devs pic.twitter.com/SK8QjOAfDt
— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) July 31, 2017
#4 – iPhone 8’s Virtual Home Button can be Hidden
The iPhone 8 will be the first time an on-screen virtual home button will replace the iconic physical button. Last year, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, replaced the mechanical home button with a placeholder area that simulated a click, using the Taptic Engine. We assume hard-pressing the iPhone 8’s on-screen button will give us a similar Taptic feedback.
The leaked HomePod firmware also tells us that the on-screen button can be hidden in the event of full-screen video playback, allowing use of the majority of the 5.8-inch edge-to-edge display.
A former Apple software engineer suggested that the navigation and menu items typically placed at the top of iOS apps could be repositioned to the bottom, on either sides of the virtual home button. This would make these navigation elements easier to reach.
#5 – 4K Video at 60FPS
Finally, the leaked firmware also relates to the camera in the upcoming iPhone 8, which appears to have a vertically aligned dual camera setup. The code suggests that the front and rear cameras will be able to record 4K videos at 60 frames per second. The iPhone 7 could only record 4K at 30 frames per second.
There also appears to be a “SmartCamera” feature addressed in the firmware, that can detect a scene like fireworks, snow, sunrise, sport and tune the camera for better image and video capture.