If you had any doubts about Apple releasing a bezel-free iPhone in September, you can probably throw those out the window. The company just pushed out a version of the HomePod firmware, and not only does the code tell us more about how Apple's smart speaker will work, it also offers a few clues about the next iPhone.
Image: Apple / Gizmodo
Developer Steve Troughton-Smith spotted the release on Saturday and has been tweeting out his discoveries since then. Based on the firmware, the HomePod is essentially a big iPhone with no screen, Troughton-Smith says. The device even shows up as an iPhone SE in the iTunes Store, although Troughton-Smith reveals, "there doesn't seem to be any kind of provision in the HomePod OS shell for installing apps or extensions." So don't expect any special HomePod apps right out of the gate. There's also some code that describes a simple LED display on top of the HomePod, one that could show basic symbols like "+" and "-" and maybe weather icons. Otherwise, the code just looks a lot like boring old iOS:
Looks like the 'shell' app on HomePod is called SoundBoard. It runs a full iOS stack, unsurprisingly. Its apps are prefixed with 'Air' pic.twitter.com/IPFF0vV3UT
— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) July 28, 2017
And then comes the good stuff. After nearly two days of sleuthing, Troughton-Smith found some code that appears to reveal a new feature that would let you unlock an iPhone with your face. Rumours suggest that this feature will show up on the next iPhone and perhaps even replace the Touch ID button. Presumably, this would allow Apple to expand the iPhone screen and introduce a bezel-free design, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8. Guess what? That rumour seems to be confirmed by the HomePod firmware, too:
The bezel-less iPhone image can be extracted from Payment_glyph_phone-D22.caar in PassKitUIFoundation.framework with the code pictured pic.twitter.com/HAyDO0E931
— Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) July 31, 2017
Bingo-bango, that's a good iPhone leak! We obviously won't know exactly what the next iPhone will look like until Apple announces it, but these new details are hard to overlook. Plus, Apple isn't quite the ironclad vault of secrets it once was. Since the iPhone 4 debacle, every iPhone has essentially looked just like the rumours said it would, save a stray feature here or there. We have no reason to believe that the next iPhone release will be any different.
Let's hope it's not, too. The idea of a big, beautiful OLED display on the iPhone 8 (or whatever it will be called) is exciting. It could change the way apps work and how we use our phones. It would also be very pretty, for sure. Apple is very good at making pretty things.