Apple will very likely launch a new iPhone this year, as it’s done without fail every year for the last decade. The bigger question is whether the new model will be differentiated from any other high-end smartphone on the market.
The iPhone’s design has stagnated over the last few years. But rumors have been bubbling up for a while that the company’s 10th-anniversary phone, expected to be called either the iPhone 8, iPhone X, or iPhone Pro, will be a return to form for the company that kickstarted the smartphone industry.
And those rumors may well be true. Over the weekend, it seems that Apple accidentally pushed out the firmware code for its upcoming wireless speaker, the HomePod, according to The Verge. One of the developers who grabbed the code, Steve Troughton-Smith, realized that the speaker’s code contained the base code for the iPhone as well, including references to technology not found on existing models.
Much like the last two Samsung smartphones, it seems that the next iPhone will have the ability to unlock itself by detecting its owner’s face. The code references an infrared camera, meaning the phone would be able to detect your face’s distinct features even in low light. According to reports from Bloomberg, the next iPhone will use those infrared cameras to detect your face in three dimensions, rather than in 2D like other smartphones on the market, which can potentially be fooled by a photo of the phone’s owner.
Elsewhere in the code, developers discovered what appears to be a new icon for the next iPhone—the company has a different image for each phone it produces—shaped like many of the leaked images and mockups that have appeared to date. While it’s quite easy for people on the internet to make designs of what they might want the next iPhone to look like, or to fake designs purported to be the real thing, this image appears in Apple’s documentation, so is less likely to be a fake.
The company wasn’t immediately available to confirm whether it meant to release the HomePod code or whether the iPhone code was for a version of the iPhone that has not yet been released. But the image, which suggests the next iPhone will have a small cutout at the top for the camera and speaker and that the rest of the front will be one solid piece of glass, is in line with the leaks that have surfaced so far.
Questions still swirl as to whether the next phone will have a fingerprint sensor (if the front is all glass, there’s no place for a sensor like the one on the iPhone 7), but some reports have suggested Apple is attempting to build one beneath the glass on the front of the phone. There’s also speculation that the iPhone will have a larger screen—a 5.8-inch screen, compared to the iPhone 7 Plus’s 5.5-inch screen—but in a smaller package, if there’s no border around the screen itself.
Apple hasn’t yet announced any more press events for the year, but if 2017 is anything like the last few years, it’s likely Apple will have something to show the world in early September.