Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

HomePod Firmware Reveals Scene Detection Features

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

The HomePod firmware Apple released early continues to offer up insight into future software and hardware capabilities for the HomePod, iPhone 8, and other devices, with the newest discovery coming today developer from Guilherme Rambo.

[…]

The firmware suggests the camera app will be able to detect different types of scenes, photo conditions, and photography subjects like pets and children. Several scenes are referenced, including Fireworks, Foliage, Pet, BrightStage, Sport, Sky, Snow, and Sunset/Sunrise, indicating the iPhone’s camera may be able to detect a scene and then set the ideal exposure, shutter speed, and other factors to take the best photograph.

I return to one of the questions that I asked earlier this week: how could something like this be exposed by the HomePod firmware? The HomePod doesn’t have a camera; in fact, the firmware suggests that these features are specifically for an as-yet unannounced iPhone to be released this year.1 Even though I understand that the HomePod is still being developed and that the firmware is a nowhere-near-final fork of iOS, I don’t necessarily see why code for completely unrelated features — especially features that seem to be specific to a different product — would be in there.

Also of note: this firmware leak is right up there with the lost or stolen iPhone 4 in terms of what it is revealing well ahead of when Apple intended. However, it’s fascinating to me that it has received little mainstream press coverage. The iPhone 4 leak was in major newspapers and on television; this leak seems like it is basically confined to the tech press. Maybe it’s because there’s no physical hardware to show or because leaks like this aren’t as interesting as stories about an iPhone being left in a bar, but I’m surprised by the relative lack of coverage outside of the tech sphere.


  1. The “Pearl” codename that was discovered in the firmware was rumoured to refer to the new face-based unlocking feature. However, there are references to Pearl with regard to the back camera in the firmware as well — a context which makes no sense to me for unlocking a device. My bet is that “Pearl” refers to new object and scene recognition features generally, of which facial unlocking is one part. While I’m aimlessly speculating, I’d also like to point out that “Iris Engine” was trademarked by Apple last year. At the time, I thought this might refer to some new camera tech for the iPhone 7; now, I think it might be the marketing name for Pearl features. But, hey, I’m just throwing stuff at the proverbial wall. ↩︎