iPhone 8’s 3D scanner supports Apple Pay & multiple faces, works in third-party apps

Brazilian iOS developer Guilherme Rambo has discovered additional tidbits in the HomePod firmware that hint at some exciting capabilities for iPhone 8’s rumored 3D facial scanning technology.

In addition to supporting payments with Apple Pay, which we recently reported on, the system—internally code-named “Pearl ID” or “Face ID”—is thought to “just work” in third-party apps and permit users to enroll multiple faces, much like Touch ID lets you register up to five fingerprints.

There may be some confusion regarding enrolling multiple faces, as AppleInsider notes:

Related to system security, Rambo uncovered a line of code reading ‘canPerformMultiBiometrics.’ Unfortunately, the term ‘MultiBiometrics’ is difficult to parse and the leaked HomePod firmware fails to elaborate on its origin.

Some have taken the code point to mean iPhone 8 facial recognition will support multiple users, but considering Apple’s approach to security and its view of iPhone as the ultimate personal device, multi-user integration seems highly unlikely. Aside from iPads in mass deployment scenarios, like educational institutions, iOS does not contain allowances for more than one user.

Both front and rear cameras should support the new 3D scanning system, as evidenced by the “CAMCaptureCapabilities” line referencing “FrontPearl” and “BackPearl” support.

As Guilherme discovered, the software supports authorizing Apple Pay payments, which strongly indicates that the new sensor must be at least as secure as Touch ID or banks wouldn’t trust Apple with it. Additionally, lines of the HomePod code seemingly reference a “multi-biometric” system that may or may not refer to a two-step biometric authentication solution that KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted in January.

Bloomberg said previously that the Cupertino technology giant was also testing eye scanning to augment the 3D facial recognition feature. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the new 3D sensor can scan a user’s face within a few hundred milliseconds and captures more data points than a fingerprint sensor, making it more secure than Touch ID.

What’s more, the advanced sensor should work perfectly in dark-lit environments.

“For its redesigned iPhone, set to go on sale later this year, Apple is testing an improved security system that allows users to log in, authenticate payments, and launch secure apps by scanning their face,” Bloomberg’s Gurman said.

Basically a diode with the infrared laser (invisible to the naked eye) transmitter and receiver, it’s understood to emit perpendicular from the top surface of the display assembly. This would allow the phone to recognize faces from odd angles, such as resting on a desk.

In other words, one might only need to glance over at their iPhone 8 to unlock it instead of using Touch ID or entering their passcode. Additionally, the sensor may allow iPhone 8 to silence notification sounds when it determines a user is already looking at its screen.

Illustration via Facebook’s DeepScan technology