Tuesday, August 1, 2017

iPhone 8 features, changes, and sizing leaked in firmware developer code

The next iPhone — the one with the bezel-less screen that leaked out in the HomePod code over the weekend — might be getting a massive jump in screen resolution in addition to the revamped design, according to a tweet from developer Steve Troughton-Smith. According to Troughton-Smith, there are references in the code for an upcoming iPhone with a functional resolution of 1125 x 2436, a number that gels with an existing rumor back in February from typically reliable KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

As the mockup from 9to5Mac shows below, Kuo’s number assumes that a portion of the rumored 5.8-inch display will be portioned off as a virtual home button / function area, leaving a 5.15-inch chunk of the display as a functional screen.

Assuming all this is true, then the iPhone 8 will offer a display that’s an order of magnitude better than current iOS devices. An iPhone 7, with a 1334 × 750 resolution on a 4.7-inch display offers what Apple calls a “Retina display” at 326 ppi. An effectively 5.15-inch screen with the rumored 2436 x 1125 resolution would offer roughly 521 ppi. For comparison, the original iPhone ran at 480 x 320, which was doubled to 960 x 640 for the original Retina display on the iPhone 4, which has since grown to scale with the larger screen sizes that Apple has used in subsequent devices to maintain that 2x scaling on current devices. The rumored resolution here implies that iOS would be running at another order of magnitude of pixel destiny with 3x Retina assets.

In other words, 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. It would also put Apple on par with more recent high-end Android phones like the Galaxy S8 (2960 x 1440) or the Google Pixel (1080 x 1920), which tend to offer more pixel-dense displays to help with functions like VR.

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 favor of a virtual one, but some held out hope that though Troughton-Smith didn’t find evidence of an ultrasound Touch ID, a fingerprint sensor under the display was 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."

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