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Not via Gizmodo, nor Ming-Chi Kuo, but in what could be a spectacular own-goal, it appears that Apple has itself leaked the form factor and key specs of the coming iPhone 8.

It looks like the new handset, likely to be released this September, will have a facial recognition system and a bezel-free screen. The leak information was uncovered by developer Guilherme Rambo, who on seeing that Apple had released firmware for the HomePod speaker, a product not due to launch until December, started sifting through the code.

While doing so, Rambo stumbled upon information on the "iPhone 8" (or iPhone Pro or iPhone 10, depending on which rumour you choose to go with). Apple's documentation confirms a much slimmer bezel, the removal of the home button, and a face-recognition feature.

The illustration file in Apple's HomePod firmware depicting the new bezel-free design of the coming iPhone, including the lack of a home button

The HomePod firmware appeared on an official Apple public update feed a few days ago. However, realising its error, Apple quickly took the code down – but not before Rambo had managed to download it.

As HomePod runs on iOS, Rambo realised the firmware that Apple released was iOS 11.0.2, two unreleased patches ahead of what is publicly available now. As this clearly wasn't intended for public release, Apple hadn't properly checked the firmware for specific mentions of the new iPhone.

Thanks to an outline illustration embedded in the firmware, the code shows that Apple will replace the Touch ID fingerprint scanner and home button with a bezel-free design, while a Face ID infrared scanner will unlock the handset via facial recognition.

iOS developer Steven Troughton-Smith posts on Twitter his findings in the HomePod firmware evidence of infra-red face ID unlock for the new iPhone
iOS developer Steven Troughton-Smith posts on Twitter his findings in the HomePod firmware evidence of infra-red face ID unlock for the new iPhone

Rambo searched the firmware for anything that could be related to the "Face ID" feature and found numerous matches in BiometricKit, the framework that currently handles Touch ID, and these references are not in the existing iOS 11 beta. Rambo then ascertained that the terms concerned with registering a new fingerprint also had a corresponding face-authentication term, "EnrollPearlID". "Pearl ID" had frequently appeared during his searches regarding facial recognition.

This quickly led Rambo to finally discovering information on the new iPhone itself. Searches for Pearl ID kept throwing up the term "Pearl-D22". In the PassKit framework, used by Wallet, Rambo found a graphics file that depicted a handset design not yet released by the Cupertino company.

When it is announced later this year, the new device will be the tenth-anniversary edition of the iPhone, and as such there have been many rumours about a radical redesign, wireless charging and other new features. The iPhone 8 is also predicted to cost much more than the existing models and it is thought it will be revealed along with cheaper iPhone 7s and 7s Plus mobiles.

If the leaked data holds true, the slim-bezel and death of the home button will be the iPhone's most significant design overhaul in years. However, this will only bring the new Apple handset in line with existing manufacturers who have already implemented facial recognition and removed a physical home button from the screen, just like the Samsung Galaxy S8.

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