When we talk about the latest iPhone or Apple product leaks, we can generally be assured the information somehow leaked courtesy of someone with close connections to Apple’s Far East supply chain. Popular websites like the Japanese blog, Mac Otokara, or the Chinese Facebook-equivalent, Weibo, have historically been sources from which the majority of Apple product rumors have emerged — oftentimes months ahead of their anticipated debut. Therefore, we wouldn’t be quick to assume that Apple was responsible for leaking information about its own products, right?
Well, if you’ve been staying up-to-date on everything iPhone 8-related, you may understand why our perspectives were essentially shattered earlier this week. As it turns out, according to Apple blogger John Gruber of Daring Fireball, the iPhone-maker may have been single-handedly responsible for leaking the latest information about its upcoming flagship device.
HomePod UI Reveals All
Last Friday evening, pre-release firmware for Apple’s upcoming HomePod Siri-speaker was mysteriously made available to the public when it was discovered on an unprotected web server. While it’s commonplace for Apple to release beta software builds ahead of major product launches, the HomePod’s firmware is a particularly unique build of iOS 11.0.2 which hasn’t, and likely won’t, be released to the public for some time to come.
What wound up happening was that the HomePod’s firmware made its way into various factions of the Apple developer community shortly after it was discovered — led by notable iOS developer, Steve Troughton-Smith, who along with some his fellow devs began sinking their teeth into the code like a pack of wolves into their evening prey, ultimately unearthing a trove of specifications, features and capabilities of Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8.
Interestingly, not much of what was discovered is news — insofar as all the trending rumors and analyst reports about the iPhone 8 are concerned, at least. But what’s telling is that the information seems to have been inadvertently leaked straight from the horse’s mouth this time around. We don’t know why, or how, this Silicon Valley snafu ended up spilling the beans on Apple’s “best kept secrets.” But we do know that the information discovered, which included a render of the iPhone 8’s design, screen resolution, internal codename, its lack of Touch ID, and a myriad of other features, is at the absolute least, confirmation of months worth of rumors.
How Could This Happen?
We may finally have an answer, err, at least a logical explanation, of how this all came to be. It comes to us courtesy of Gruber himself, who on Tuesday posted his sentiments on Daring Fireball: “My understanding is that Apple is (or at least was) on the cusp of a widespread deployment of prototype HomePods to employees,” Gruber wrote, while adding that “Someone prepared an over-the-air software update and because it was intended to be distributed only to Apple employees, the OS was compiled without all the usual flags set to omit code that pertains to unreleased hardware. Building the OS without those flags set may not have been a mistake. But distributing it via a world-readable server was.”
Since internal software builds, like the HomePod’s, aren’t intended for release outside the walls of Apple’s 1 Infinite Loop headquarters, iOS engineers likely didn’t bother (or perhaps just forgot) to omit certain aspects of the code like they normally would for an iOS or macOS beta build. And since they didn’t bother flagging the most sensitive aspects of the code, as Gruber suggests, we now know with near certainty what Apple’s iPhone 8 is bringing to the table this fall.
If you haven’t checked out all the leaked features and specifications, be sure to fill yourself in by checking out our previous coverage of all the HomePod leaks here and here.