In the past, Apple has been very successful at stopping leaks about new iPhones. But it appears to have hit the snooze button this time around.
The company has accidentally leaked major details about its new phones (due to be released next week), by making the software that will run on the device available to the public.
This is, in fact, the second time the company has accidentally made software available which spoiled the release of the new phone. hat spoiled the release of the new phone.
Last month, it uploaded the software that powers its HomePod to the internet. The smart speaker’s operating system included a range of information about the iPhone 8 and X.
This time around, the software is the actual operating system from the next phone. That means that this is the first look at how iOS 11 – in itself a major upgrade – will deal with the various design changes in the brand new iPhone.
New camera and screen technology
Like in recent years, Apple is expected to focus on the camera as one of the central features of the new phone. And as in recent years, it will do that in part by including a range of new features.
Those will include “Portrait Lighting”, according to the software. That will use special technology to change the lighting of portraits, and the software includes a range of different names: Contour Light, Natural Light, Stage Light, Stage Light Mono, and Studio Light.
The display will also feature “True Tone” technology, which has already appeared inside the iPad Pro. That uses sensors to detect what the light is like and reflect that on the screen, so that the white of browser pages doesn’t look bright in a more yellow-lit room, for instance.
The lock button gets smart
We know that Apple will be dropping the home button from the front of the phone – you can find more details on that here. But the new software suggests some of its functions will move to the lock button on the side.
Instead of just turning the phone on, the button will be able to trigger Siri, open up Apple Pay like on the Watch, and to start a special SOS mode that can be used to ring the police, the leaks suggest,
The button might not even be real. It might be swapped for a “virtual” button that uses vibrations to make it feel like it is being pressed.
How the iPhone will recognise your face
Facial recognition is widely rumoured to be the biggest feature of the new iPhone. The leak makes clear that the phone will use its 3D sensors to watch anyone that is using it.
If it sees that the user is its “owner”, it will unlock – and if it sees its owner is watching it, then it will make changes to how it works.
The facial recognition appears to be “ambient”, meaning that it’s on all the time. This suggests that the phone will seem permanently unlocked to its owner, since it will usually recognise who’s holding it before they go to unlock it.
The software says this will also mean that the phone will know whether it “has attention”, so for instance, if someone is looking at the phone, then notifications won’t need to be so loud.
Developer Guilherme Rambo shared a video of how the facial recognition software will look when it is being used.
He noted that the facial recognition technology isn’t working entirely accurately; it doesn’t quite line up with the face.
How the iPhone will deal with the notch at the top of the screen
Perhaps the most confusing and controversial of the new design decisions is the little notch that sits at the top, which houses the facial recognition sensors, the traditional camera and the earpiece for phone calls.
Without that notch, the screen of the new phone would wrap all the way over the front. But instead, the notch protrudes down, putting a black lump at the top of the screen.
It wasn’t clear whether Apple would embrace that notch – designing around it – or try and ignore it.
It also reorganises some icons so that they can fit in the much smaller space in the status bar at the top of the phone. When the phone is plugged in to charge, for instance, things move around so that the extra information can be included.
Further leaks are likely to emerge from the new software with time.
Apple is due to announce the new phones at a major event on Tuesday. As well as the iPhone X, Apple will release the more traditional iPhone 8, a new Apple Watch and an upgraded Apple TV.