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The iPhone 8's Touch ID replacement might be more powerful than expected

The upcoming iPhone 8 could be ditching its home button entirely, if the latest leaks are to be believed — but Apple might just have come up with an even more powerful method to unlock the flagship phone in its place. You might not even have to hold it in your hands to make it work.

Apple's new facial scanning feature, which has long been rumored to come with the iPhone 8, could be more effective than expected. Newly spotted details in the fine print of the now-public HomePod firmware suggest that the facial recognition feature, codenamed Pearl ID, might be functional even when the phone is sitting face-up on a table.

The line in question, which was discovered by Spanish-language site iHelp BR before being confirmed by Tech Crunch, reads “accessibility.resting.pearl.unlock.” Resting means "lying down" or "at rest," according to iHelp BR.

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The functionality could make the phone easier to operate, since it appears that there won't be any type of physical Touch ID button to read users' biometrics for verification. Another line of firmware suggests that the Pearl ID feature will be open to third-party developers, too, which could mean that you'll use your mug to access sensitive data in programs like banking apps, which depend on Touch ID in current iOS devices.

The HomePod firmware is truly a gift that keeps on giving. It's a rare unforced error for Apple, which goes to extreme lengths to protect its secrets — but now we have a good idea about some of the features coming in the next generation of Apple products, from the iPhone 8's design silhouette and selfie camera to the Apple Watch's standalone LTE connectivity.

All these early tidbits are exciting for those of us who've been tracking the iPhone 8 rumor cycle, but it's important to remember that we can't confirm for certain that these leaked features will actually make it to the device IRL. We still don't actually know the phone's name (it won't be D22, the codename in the firmware) or release date, so you shouldn't count on unlocking your phone with your face until Tim Cook shows us exactly how it's done later this year.

Here are few things we feel fairly confident the iPhone 8 will come with:

  • Edge-to-edge OLED display

  • Dual cameras with new 3D depth sensor for advanced AR

  • Wireless charging

  • Glass back design with stainless steel frame

  • Face recognition and unlock with infrared detection

  • 4K video recording at 60 fps for both the front and back cameras

  • No headphone jack

  • No Touch ID fingerprint sensor (possibly replaced with face payments)

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