iPhone 8 could scan your face even if your phone is on a table

Apple’s HomePod firmware is the gift that keeps on giving. When the company shared an early build of the speaker firmware, many developers started digging around the strings in a library file to find hints about the next iPhone. And iHelp BR spotted an interesting reference to the facial recognition feature.

A previous leak from the HomePod firmware revealed that the iPhone 8 (or whatever they call it) is going to feature facial recognition to unlock your device. Codenamed Pearl ID, the feature should replace the usual Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

iHelp BR noticed that there’s a reference to a setting or a feature (“resting.pearl.unlock”) that lets you unlock your phone while it is resting on a table, on a desk or on any flat surface. I checked in the HomePod firmware and I found the same reference as well.

There are also references of third-party apps using Pearl. It sounds like developers will be able to provide facial unlocking for sensitive data. Developers can already use the Touch ID sensor with recent iPhones.

When reports started suggesting that Apple might drop Touch ID support altogether, people were skeptical at first. Facial recognition doesn’t seem practical as you don’t want to hold your phone in front of your face whenever you turn it on. There are also issues when your face is partially blocked or in the dark.

But it seems like Apple wants to make facial recognition more convenient than a fingerprint sensor. The company is relying on infrared to map your face so that it works in the dark. Multiple leaks also suggest that it should work if your face is at a weird angle. Today’s new reference confirms that as well.

Rumor has it that Apple has been working on not one, not two but three different iPhone models. In early September, the company should be announcing a more powerful iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, as well as a brand new super premium phone. This rumored “iPhone 8” is going to feature a taller screen that is going to completely fill the front of the device, except for the speaker, camera and sensors at the top.

People originally thought that Apple would integrate the Touch ID sensor below the display itself. But it sounds like Apple can’t produce tens of millions of display with an integrated Touch ID sensor. Facial recognition is the obvious alternative. But let’s see if Apple can keep up with expectations as Touch ID works incredibly well on current iPhones.