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iOS developers dish about new iPhone 5s hardware features

Serenity Caldwell | Sept. 12, 2013
Hardware improvements like the new A7 64-bit processor and M7 co-processor may not mean much to the average user, but iOS developers are very excited about them. Here's why you should be, too.

M is for motion
Rumors around the Web had pegged many of the improvements in the iPhone 5s long before the event, including the rumored fingerprint scanner. But Apple's new M7 co-processor was a largely unexpected box on the Bingo card: It tracks motion data from your device's accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass without needing to wake up the A7.

On prior iOS devices, fitness trackers like Moves negatively impacted the battery because the A6 chip had to do all the work. Now, it looks as though the M7 could abate all that. Moves CEO Sampo Karjalainen is thrilled: "The new M7 co-processor and related continuous activity and step tracking are great news for our Moves app! It's good to see that Apple is starting to support our use case better now. They are doing the right thing by optimizing the hardware for continuous data collection with minimized battery use."

Does the iPhone have a chance to unseat players like Jawbone and Fitbit from the fitness-tracking realm? Karjalainen would like to believe. According to his numbers, Moves currently tracks over two billion steps a day; in contrast, information from Jawbone earlier this year indicated that the company's Up wristband tracks over one billion steps per day. Macworld reached out to Fitbit for comment, but as of press time had received no response.

You don't have to be a motion-tracking app developer to be interested in the M7, though. Iconfactory developer Craig Hockenberry told Macworld "I always get excited about iOS technologies that interact with our bodies and surrounding environment ... In my opinion, the announcement of Touch ID and the M7 co-processor are most important because they let our devices become even more personal. And this added personality makes for an exciting future."


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