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August 10, 2017

iPhone 8 Facial Recognition Appears to Support Payments, Multiple Faces and Third-Party Apps

by John_A

Developers are still digging into the recently released HomePod firmware to suss out additional details on Apple’s upcoming “iPhone 8,” and the latest information, sourced from developer Guilherme Rambo, hints at several features we might see in the new device.

According to strings of code uncovered by Rambo, the facial recognition feature coming in the iPhone 8 appears to support authentication for Apple Pay payments, seems to work with multiple faces, and may be accessible by third-party apps, much like Touch ID.

A line in the code references a payment authentication error with “Pearl,” Apple’s internal code name for face recognition in the iPhone 8, while a string that reads “numberOfAppsUsingPearl” suggests facial recognition functionality can be accessed by third-party apps, likely as a passcode replacement. Given this information, facial recognition appears to be a full replacement for Touch ID, just as rumors have suggested.


Apple’s upcoming facial recognition system is said to be faster and more secure than Touch ID. It can unlock an iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds, and it captures more data points than a fingerprint scan. Thanks to previous firmware leaks, we also know that it works when the iPhone is laying flat on a table and it mutes notification sounds when a face is in view.

In addition to unveiling new information about facial recognition, Rambo has also found a few other interesting bits of code that may hint at additional features coming in the iPhone 8.

There are references to multi biometrics, modern HDR, 1080p240 camera capture functionality for a “back” and a “front” (suggesting 240 fps video capture at 1080p, an upgrade from the current 720p limit), and mentions of “FrontPearl” and “BackPearl” camera support.

“Back Pearl” pic.twitter.com/amAFPMzDw4

— Guilherme Rambo (@_inside) August 9, 2017

While the HomePod firmware has provided us with a range of details on what to expect from the iPhone 8, it’s important not to read too much into ambiguous code and make too many assumptions about features that are as-of-yet unclear. “BackPearl” could suggest facial recognition for both the front and rear cameras, for example, but it could mean something else entirely. The same goes for multi-biometrics and modern HDR.

Additionally, not all of the referenced features are guaranteed to make it into the iPhone 8, so take this code as a suggestion of what might be coming rather than concrete proof of a feature.

Apple first released the HomePod firmware in late July, and because it was meant for employees testing the not-yet-available HomePod speaker, which runs a version of iOS, Apple did not strip out references to upcoming products and features.

Images of an iPhone 8 dummy model shared by Ben Miller
From the firmware, we’ve seen glimpses of the final design of the iPhone 8, and have found references to infrared-based facial recognition features, a split status bar, a tap to wake feature, new SmartCamera functionality, and more.

Details on other upcoming products, including the HomePod itself, the Series 3 Apple Watch, and a possible 4K Apple TV have also been uncovered in the firmware.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
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