I’m on vacation until September 6. I wrote this post on August 25 before I left.
Back on August 24 I wrote a post rating the snazz of the new Note 8, the top of the line smartphone that Samsung had just introduced. The Note 8, I wrote, set the bar for the high end of the smartphone market that Apple’s new phone would have to jump at its introduction this fall.
Now obviously we know a lot about the Note 8. The phone is in the hands of tech journalists (and soon consumers) who can try out and describe actual features of the phone. Nobody has put his or her hands on an iPhone 8 yet.
But that doesn’t mean that we don’t know anything about that phone. Even Apple, deeply, deeply secretive Apple suffers leaks–sometimes self-inflicted. And that was the case just a few weeks ago. Two developers, Steve Troughton-Smith and Guilherme Rambo, found an internal software update on the Internet that was intended for employees testing Apple’s soon to be released HomePod smart speaker. The update referred to a device codenamed D22, which is pretty clearly the next iPhone. From the details about that device in the update, it’s just a hop-skip-and-some good guesswork to a list of likely iPhone 8 features.
Here’s the picture that emerges from the software update:
Like Samsung’s Note 8, the iPhone 8 will be bezel-less (or almost so) with a screen that reaches from the top to the bottom of the device. A notch at the top of the screen seems intended for the earpiece speaker, a front-facing camera and sensors.
The code seems to confirm that Apple’s physical home button, an iPhone feature since the launch in 2007, will be replaced with a virtual home button. Google Android devices use a similar system for their home, back, and overview buttons.
Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which has been embedded in the physical home button, will be replaced with a fingerprint scanner embedded in the screen with the embedded scanner reading fingerprints for authenticating payments and unlocking the phone.
A facial recognition feature, codenamed Pearl ID, will be placed in the top notch of the device and will likely use an infrared-based system similar to the used in Microsoft’s Help facial recognition feature in its Surface computers.
It’s just a suggestion in the leaked code, but there’s the possibility that what’s now codenamed Pearl ID will be able to confirm payments using Apple Pay, the company’s contactless payment system.
The D22 device will include a SmartCam system, which will be combine multiple exposures taken with a single click to tune camera settings based on the scene the camera detects. Scenes mentioned in the leaked document include “pet,” “foliage,” “sport” and “point light source.” Google’s Pixel and Samsung’s Note 8 similarly use multiple shots taken with a single click to improve the “keeper” photo.
The software document includes references to an augmented reality feature, called ARFaceAnchor” that will allow a user to apply augmented reality features to faces that it recognizes in a selfie. Snapchat and Sony smartphones have similar augmented reality features that can be applied to faces. There are also references to “expression detection” that would allow the tracking (and alteration) of the shape of the mouth or the size of eyes, for example.
That’s what we know right now about the iPhone 8. How snazzy the phone will be will depend on which, if any, of these features wind up in the actual phone along with other features not ascribed to the D22. And on how clever Apple is at presenting these features on the physical phone and in the operating system
See you in September, iPhone 8.