The iPhone 8 will be able to tell when you're looking at it, leak suggests
HomePod software suggests device’s facial-recognition system will work when phone is flat and be able to mute notifications when it detects user is looking
More details have been revealed about the highly anticipated iPhone 8 by software leaks from Apple, including the device’s ability to mute notifications when it detects you are looking at it.
While the name and precise release date of the next big change to the Apple’s iPhone, dubbed the D22 iPhone, is unknown the leaked software for Apple’s upcoming HomePod smart speaker has already revealed what the phone will look like, that it will have face recognition and other details.
Wide-angle face recognition
Now further analysis by Brazilian Apple site iHelp BR has found suggestions that the iPhone 8’s face recognition feature is designed to work when the smartphone is flat on a desk and doesn’t require the device to be held up at head height to unlock the phone with a face.
One of the criticisms of current face and iris recognition technology, as employed by the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Microsoft’s Windows Hello-enabled Surface computers, is that it must be either brought up to eye level to work or must be angled in such a way that it can clearly see the whole of your face.
Should Apple have designed a way to allow the infra-red based face recognition system to work at a much wider angle, including flat on a desk, it could go some way to alleviating the issues plaguing current iterations of the technology.
Multiple faces might be supported
Developer Guilherme Rambo found suggestions in the HomePod code that point to the iPhone’s facial recognition system being able to detect more than one face. While being able to register multiple digits is logical for a fingerprint scanner-based system, for using both hands and multiple fingers in different scenarios for unlocking the phone, the same cannot be said of faces for a single-user device such as an iPhone.
It might be used to allow multiple people to unlock an iPhone, perhaps with limited access, or to be able to register a face with and without glasses.
Higher quality slow-motion video
Apple was one of the first to make slow-motion video capture a standard feature on a smartphone, but while the frame rate has been doubled over the years, the resolution of the video captured at 240 frames per second has been fixed at the relatively small 720p.
Rambo found suggestions that the next version of the iPhone would be capable of capturing high-speed slow motion video at a full 1080p resolution using both the back and the front-facing cameras. A step up to 1080p should make for a noticeable improvement in quality.
The iPhone will mute notifications when you’re looking at it
Rambo also found suggestions in the code of the HomePod firmware that the next iPhone will be able to recognise when you’re looking at it and mute notifications. The expectation is that the IR-scanning system used for facial recognition will be watching the user and detecting when they look at the phone. Samsung has already created a feature called smart stay, which uses a smartphone’s front-facing camera to track eye attention and keep the screen lit while a user is looking at it.
Apple’s system could use a similar technique, tracking eye position to avoid audible alerts when the phone is actively being looked at but not physically interacted with.
Apple is expected to announce new iPhones at its yearly September event. We’ll find out exactly what it looks like and what it will be called then.
Apple declined to comment.