New iPhone leaks show tap to wake, attention detection, and virtual home button

More details about Apple’s upcoming iPhone have been uncovered in HomePod’s firmware — which runs iOS like the iPhone — revealing features including a tap to wake function, facial expression and attention detection, and the long-rumored removal of the home button. Apple accidentally released the firmware over the weekend resulting in a frenzy of analysis about previously unknown features.

Developers including Steve Troughton-Smith and Guilherme Rambo have been tweeting their findings, notably the discovery of the new iPhone’s bezel-less screen design. They’ve also concluded that the resolution for the iPhone 8 could be as much of a visual leap forward from current-generation iPhones as the iPhone 4’s Retina display was from the original iPhone. Apple is using codenames for both its face recognition feature and the bezel-less phone, called “Pearl ID” and “D22” respectively.

A potential “attention detection” feature is also mentioned in the code, with some speculating that may mean the phone will remain silent for notifications if it knows you’re looking at the screen already. Facial references such as “mouthstretch,” “mouthsmile,” and “mouthdimple” were also found, which are most likely a nod to Apple’s rumored facial recognition feature that can even detect faces in the dark using infrared.

A tap to wake feature has also been discovered, and should be similar to the Windows Phone function that allows users to double-tap the screen to wake the phone.

The home button looks to be gone in favour of a virtual one, but some held out hope that though Troughton-Smith didn’t find evidence of an ultrasound Touch ID, an embedded module is still a possibility. Troughton-Smith shot that down too, tweeting, “I mentioned ultrasound, yes, but I searched for much, much more. There is no evidence whatsoever of any new kind of Touch ID.” The virtual home button is called the “home indicator,” and will most likely be hidden in certain contexts such as when watching a video.

There was an Apple Watch discovery as well, hinting at a new skiing workout option for WatchOS 4 users.

The leaks are the most authoritative since the iPhone 4 debacle in 2010, after a software engineer left a device prototype at a bar. “This is a rough situation for Apple,” Troughton-Smith told Wired. “For them to be the source of the only concrete leaks about it and its design is going to upset a lot of people internally.”