New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

HomePod Firmware Suggests iPhone 8 Will Be Able to Scan Your Face Even While Device is Lying Flat

The newest discovery found within the HomePod firmware has shed some light on the iPhone 8's facial recognition software, and how it could potentially scan a user's face even when the smartphone is lying flat on a table. Uncovered by iHelp BR, code within the firmware related to "Pearl," which is Apple's internal name for the new facial recognition system, also includes multiple references to the word "resting" alongside "unlock."

The feature was discovered to be categorized as an accessibility option, specifically called "AXRestingPearlUnlock" and "com.apple.accessibility.resting.pearl.unlock". While not an exact confirmation, the HomePod firmware discovery does corroborate a report by Bloomberg from July that said Apple was working on an "improved" facial recognition system for iPhone 8, which would replace Touch ID and allegedly work even when the smartphone was flat on a table.

Image via iHelp BR

That story claimed the iPhone 8's facial recognition would capture more data points than Touch ID, making it more secure. When rumors first came out that the iPhone 8 would potentially remove Touch ID completely, many iPhone users raised concerns about not being able to unlock their devices as they have been for years, due to a facial recognition system that would need to have the iPhone brought up directly in front of their face.

According to Bloomberg's report, and the new HomePod firmware findings, Apple's facial identification software will have far more nuance than simply scanning faces head-on, and allow the smartphone to be unlocked even when it's at an odd angle. At the time of the report last month, the advanced facial recognition feature was "still being tested" and had the potential to not appear in the iPhone 8 this year. The new discovery within the HomePod firmware, which runs a modified version of iOS, makes it more likely that the advanced face ID system could make it into the iPhone 8.

One of the first HomePod firmware discoveries was a glyph of the iPhone 8

The firmware also includes references to Apple's facial detection software working with third-party apps, found in a string called "APPS_USING_PEARL". This means that users would potentially be able to unlock features within certain apps using their face, like they can currently within banking apps, for example, using their fingerprint and Touch ID. Another line includes a detail called "PEARL_AUTOLOCK", and iHelp BR theorizes this could be a security feature that automatically locks the iPhone when it detects someone trying to open it whose face doesn't match that of the authenticated user.

According to a recent Tweet by Mark Gurman, Apple's pitch for facial recognition will be that the new feature is "quicker, more secure, and more accurate than Touch ID." Other recent HomePod firmware leaks revealed that the iPhone 8's facial recognition will likely work with Apple Pay and that the smartphone might record 4K Video at 60 FPS with both front and rear cameras.

Related Roundups: HomePod, iPhone X


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

13 months ago
HomePod Firmware Suggests Winning Lottery Numbers
Rating: 79 Votes
13 months ago
Really hope this isn't replacing Touch ID and is being introduced alongside as an alternative
Rating: 33 Votes
13 months ago
I'm really hoping Apple opens this precognitive device to developers; I'd love a magic 8 ball app.

"HomePod, how long will I live?"



"…"

Rating: 29 Votes
13 months ago


The newest discovery found within the HomePod firmware has shed some light on the iPhone 8's facial recognition software, and how it could potentially scan a user's face even when the smartphone is laying flat on a table.


Lying flat, not laying flat.



Rating: 16 Votes
13 months ago

It will replace Touch ID I think, it's not necessarily a bad thing either, it seems Apple have put a lot of thought into this and it will a more advanced system. Expect Apple to do with facial scanning what they did with Touch ID.

I’m still kinda sceptical about FaceID, but that’s largely due to how much I love TouchID. It’s a high bar Apple has set for itself.

It just occurred to me though that *maybe* we’ve been looking at this backwards. Could be that keeping TouchID was the backup plan for Apple, in case FaceID couldn’t be made to work well enough. And dropping TouchID has more to do with FaceID being a success than with problems adding TouchID to the iPhone 8. Maybe. I just hope it really is good enough, so we’ll see…

I also suspect that FaceID won’t be a background thing, and will need a (virtual) home button press for it to trigger. If so (and if it works properly) that would make it feel indistinguishable from TouchID. Or even better than TouchID, if you have wet hands etc.
Rating: 16 Votes
13 months ago
This seems like a nice feature. My concern would be, what if someone picks my charging phone up off the table while I’m asleep and put its in front of my face to unlock it. At least with TouchID, they would have to grab my hand and chances are, I would wake up to notice it.

Just a random thought...definitely first world problems.
Rating: 15 Votes
13 months ago

what if all these ''leaks'' via the HomePod firmware is one big hoax!? ;)


Apple trolling everyone would be so funny :D
Rating: 15 Votes
13 months ago

According to a recent Tweet by Mark Gurman ('https://twitter.com/markgurman/status/893993381575016448'), Apple's pitch for facial recognition will be that the new feature is "quicker, more secure, and more accurate than Touch ID."


This is key, and if it’s quicker and more secure than Touch ID, then who cares if they remove Touch ID.
Rating: 13 Votes
13 months ago
Guess Apple is regretting creating the HomePod, before even releasing it.
Rating: 13 Votes
13 months ago
I predict the front camera having a thick spherical bulge with a rotating camera that looks like an eye :-)
Rating: 10 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]