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Leaked Apple code reveals that the iPhone 8 won’t feature Touch ID in the display

Published Aug 1st, 2017 8:51AM EDT
iPhone 8 Release
Image: Moe Slah

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Apple over the weekend mistakenly made the firmware for its upcoming HomePod speaker available to the masses, and in the process, inadvertently released key details surrounding the upcoming iPhone 8. Once the firmware became available, developer Steve Troughton-Smith quickly began dissecting every crevice of the firmware whereupon he stumbled across a number of interesting data strings which all but confirm that the iPhone 8 will incorporate advanced facial recognition technology. Troughton-Smith also unearthed a glyph of the iPhone 8 which corroborates previous reports regarding the device’s sleek edge to edge display.

After delving deeper into the firmware late last night, Troughton-Smith managed to glean even more information about the upcoming iPhone 8. Most notably, Troughton-Smith relayed via Twitter that the iPhone 8 will likely not incorporate a Touch ID sensor embedded directly into the display. While nothing is ever 100% confirmed until we hear it straight from Apple, the fact that the HomePod firmware was seemingly released by mistake suggests that Troughton-Smith’s conclusions should carry some weight.

If true, this is an unfortunate development, especially in the wake of reports claiming that Apple figured out a way to embed the Touch ID sensor underneath the display. This rumored shift in design necessarily begs the question: Will Apple abandon Touch ID entirely or might it appear on the back of the device? While we’ve seen some iPhone 8 prototypes feature a Touch ID sensor on the back, credible sources from within Apple’s supply chain have said that Apple opted to forgo such a design.

Consequently, it stands to reason that all functionality relating to biometric authentication and financial transactions will be handled exclusively by the iPhone 8’s new facial recognition software. As we covered not too long ago, the iPhone 8’s facial recognition software will be best in class and can seemingly identify users with startling accuracy. Nonetheless, even a flawless facial recognition scheme won’t be as convenient across all situations as Touch ID has been since its release a few years ago.

Touch ID aside, Troughton-Smith also published a few additional iPhone 8 tidbits after digging around the HomePod firmware further. For starters, he found that iOS 11 on the iPhone 8 may include a new dock UI.

It also appears that the iPhone 8 may support a ‘tap to wake’ feature which, it stands to reason, may be used in conjunction with the device’s facial recognition software.

Other details and rumors involving the iPhone 8 include a seemingly more complex status bar and some fresh information about the device’s virtual home button.

Without question, the iPhone 8 has been subject to more conflicting reports and speculative rumors than any previous iPhone model we can remember. At a certain point, it’d just be nice to know when the iPhone 8 may see the light of day. Frustratingly, even this issue is up for debate. While the last few iPhone releases have all launched in September, there are reports that the iPhone 8 release date will be subject to a delay, with some reports claiming that it won’t become available until October. Even in a more optimistic scenario that would see the iPhone 8 release fall in September, initial supply of the device will reportedly be remarkably low, which is to say that the iPhone 8, practically speaking, won’t actually be available to the masses until late October or early November, at best.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.