Next iPhone could be controlled with head movements

Developers have unearthed more settings in the latest beta version of iOS 7, the operating system that will power the next iPhone and iPad and that will also be released to existing iDevice owners later this year.

Discovered by an anonymous tipster, the feature allows users to control their devices with left-or-right head movements and was first reported by 9to5Mac. Tilting the head in one direction would launch the Siri personal assistant, for example, while tilting it in the opposite direction could return the screen to the home menu.

The features were discovered within the software's Accessibility Settings, suggesting that Apple is looking at ways to make using its devices easier for people who have limited limb movement or other physical disabilities. Or it could simply be a backup option for when traveling on public transport and not having a hand free to operate the phone or tablet for fear of falling over.

Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Galaxy SIV, uses facial recognition technology built into its front-facing camera to automatically scroll web content up or down or turn an e-book page based on the user's eye movements. What's more, it will automatically pause video when the user isn't looking directly at the screen and can even activate sleep mode to preserve battery life. However while it sounds great on paper, early reviews suggested that the features were less than smooth when used in real life.

Other discoveries in the iOS7 beta source code include ‘blink' and ‘smile' recognition within the camera's software, suggesting that as well as automatically detecting and focusing on a face, the iPhone camera will now wait to take a picture until the subject's eyes are open and is looking happy.

However, as with all code that appears in the beta edition of an operating system, there is no guarantee that it will make it into the finished version. And with iOS7 pencilled in for a September launch, existing iPhone and iPad users will not have long to wait to find out if the features have made the grade.

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