Apple's 'iPhone 8' May Mute Notification Sounds When the User is Looking at the Screen
The HomePod firmware that Apple pushed out to public servers over a week ago continues to reveal tantalizing tidbits of information about unannounced Apple hardware, and this time the plaudits go to iOS developer Guilherme Rambo for discovering lines of code that suggest the upcoming "iPhone 8" will automatically suppress notification sounds when a user is looking at the screen.
Apple's redesigned OLED iPhone is believed to include a front-facing 3D sensor capability, likely powered by acquired PrimeSense technology, that enables Apple's new facial authentication feature.
As a possible extension of biometric authentication, the line of code beginning "TLAttentionAwarenessObserver" implies that the same infrared depth sensors may be used to mute audible notifications when the user is giving the phone their full attention and looking directly at the screen. Previously uncovered code within the HomePod firmware suggests the "iPhone 8" will also be able to scan the user's face even while the device is lying flat on a table.
Of course, there's no guarantee that the sound suppression feature will show up in Apple's upcoming OLED iPhone, due to launch next month, but if it does, it's likely to be user-configurable as an Accessibility consideration. If anything it highlights another potential use case for Apple's face detection feature, which could replace Touch ID fingerprint authentication entirely on future iPhones.
While many observers remain skeptical that Touch ID can be replaced by a facial recognition system that's equally secure, rumors have suggested Apple's facial recognition technique captures more data points than a fingerprint scan, making it even more secure than Touch ID.