Audience's 'earSmart' Technology Explains Siri's iPhone 4S Exclusivity

a5chipCNET reports on a new research note from analyst Linley Gwennap, who believes that custom circuitry in Apple's A5 system-on-a-chip including "earSmart" noise cancellation technology from Audience is the reason why Siri is currently an iPhone 4S-only feature. Gwennap cites Audience's S-1 filing made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month in advance of the company's initial public offering in backing up his analysis.

Audience revealed details of its Apple partnership in January, when it filed paperwork for an initial public offering (IPO) of stock. Teardown work from iFixit and Chipworks revealed a dedicated Audience chip in the iPhone 4, but the iPhone 4S integrates Audience's "EarSmart" technology directly into the A5 processor, the company's S-1 filing said. [...]

"Even after accounting for the dual Cortex-A9 CPUs and the large GPU that provides the A5 with industry-leading 3D graphics performance, the remaining die area seems too large for the usual mundane housekeeping logic," Gwennap said in a report yesterday. "To reduce system cost and eliminate the extra package required for the Audience chip, Apple cut a deal to integrate the noise-reduction technology directly into its A5 processor, which appears in the iPhone 4S."

The earSmart technology found in the iPhone 4S is said to be significantly better at suppressing background noise than the technology used in the iPhone 4, enabling Siri to more easily pick out the user's voice.

Audience's standalone chip for the iPhone 4 was detailed last year, and teardown specialists quickly noted that a similar chip was missing from the iPhone 4S, with the presumption being that it had been integrated directly into the A5.

audience earsmart
Audience outlines this development in its S-1, noting that it is now receiving royalties from Apple that will be lower than the payments it had previously received for the dedicated chips. Also of interest is Audience's disclosure that it has licensed its next-generation noise cancellation intellectual property to Apple, although Apple is under no obligation to use it in future devices.

Commencing in the three months ended December 31, 2011, Apple has integrated our processor IP [intellectual property] in certain of its mobile phones. Pursuant to our agreement, this OEM [original equipment manufacturer] will pay us a royalty, on a quarterly basis, for the use of our processor IP for all mobile phones in which it is used. We have granted a similar license to this OEM for a new generation of processor IP; however, this OEM is not obligated to incorporate our processor IP into any of its current or future mobile devices.

As part of the risk factors accompanying the regulatory filing, Audience notes that Apple and its contract manufacturers Foxconn and Protek represent roughly 80% of the company's revenue, and with payments from Apple decreasing under the new licensing arrangement, Audience's revenue could decline if it can not continue to bring new customers on board. Audience also acknowledges that it could see significant losses if Apple in the future develops its own technology or if it opts for a different solution such as noise cancellation technology integrated into baseband chips instead of Apple's own A-series chips.

Top Rated Comments

strausd Avatar
124 months ago
And yet Siri works fine on jailbroken devices with Spire.
Fine in your opinion doesn't necessarily mean that it meets Apple's quality requirements.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
getinline1 Avatar
124 months ago
And yet Siri works fine on jailbroken devices with Spire.

Nowhere does it say that it will not work at all on pre-4S devices. There is a difference between working and working well. I suspect that if you took an iPhone 4S and a jailbroken iPhone 4 into a noisy environment, the 4S would have a much higher success rate.

Also, the 4S has a much louder speaker which makes it easier to hear feedback from Siri.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
unobtainium Avatar
124 months ago
Yeah, I'm not sure why you all seem to take it for granted that Apple "owes" you free new features for your iPhone 4. If they were inordinately greedy they could just stop supporting older models when a new iPhone is released. Instead, iPhone 4 owners get basically every shiny new software feature available on the 4S, except one. Boo hoo. And now there's even a semi-plausible reason for that exclusion. Some people are just so entitled.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
applesith Avatar
124 months ago
Yet another pathetic excuse to cover Apple ass. Sorry but it been proven time and time again how much BS there is. Siri is only on the 4S to force people to upgrade.

This has been proven time and time again.

No one is forcing anyone to upgrade. Want new features? Get a new phone. Nothing new with that idea.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PlaceofDis Avatar
124 months ago
Yet another pathetic excuse to cover Apple ass. Sorry but it been proven time and time again how much BS there is. Siri is only on the 4S to force people to upgrade.

This has been proven time and time again.

no one is being forced to upgrade. this is a bonus feature, not something that anyone needs. is it nice to have? sometimes yes. but by no means is it necessary for the device to function.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kaibelf Avatar
124 months ago
Yet another pathetic excuse to cover Apple ass. Sorry but it been proven time and time again how much BS there is. Siri is only on the 4S to force people to upgrade.

This has been proven time and time again.

Thank goodness we have your in-depth dissertation as well as a mountain of forum troll speculation to guide us from the false words of those pesky trained engineers who actually do this for a living. :rolleyes:
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Pro Display XDR Yella

Apple Working on External Display With Built-In A13 Chip

Friday July 23, 2021 9:37 am PDT by
Apple is developing an external display that includes an A13 chip with Neural Engine, according to a new rumor from 9to5Mac. The A13 chip with Neural Engine would presumably serve as an eGPU, though details are light at this time. Having a CPU/GPU built into the external display could help Macs deliver high-resolution graphics without using all the resources of the computer's internal chip....
airpods 3 gizmochina Feature

AirPods 3 Rumored to Launch Alongside iPhone 13 at Expected September Event

Friday July 23, 2021 12:54 am PDT by
The third-generation AirPods will likely launch at the same event revealing Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup, according to a report from DigiTimes, which makes the claim citing sources familiar with the matter. The report as a whole echoes previous reporting that production of the third-generation AirPods will kickstart in August, meaning a launch shortly after can be easily expected. DigiTi...
discount m1 macbook yellow

Deals: Shop Record Low Prices Across Apple's Full MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Lineup (Up to $499 Off)

Friday July 23, 2021 8:23 am PDT by
Apple's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineup is seeing all-time low discounts across the board today, including the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro, 2020 13-inch MacBook Air, and 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. 13-Inch M1...
iPad mini pro feature

Next iPad Mini Won't Feature Mini-LED Display, Claims Display Analyst

Friday July 23, 2021 8:07 am PDT by
Yesterday, DigiTimes claimed that the upcoming iPad mini will feature a mini-LED display, but now, display analyst Ross Young is going at odds with that report, claiming that while the updated iPad mini continues to be on track for a release this year, it won't feature a mini-LED display. Young says he "confirmed" with Radiant Opto-Electronics, who DigiTimes claims would provide Apple with...
idos 2 app ios

Apple to Pull 'iDOS 2' DOS Emulator From App Store

Thursday July 22, 2021 3:22 pm PDT by
iDOS 2, an app designed to allow users to play classic DOS games, will soon be pulled from the App Store, the app's creator said today. According to iDOS developer Chaoji Li, he tried to submit an iDOS update with bug fixes to the App Store, but was told that the update was rejected because it violated the 2.5.2 App Store guideline that says apps cannot install or launch executable code.Durin...
m1 macbook air

Kuo: Mini-LED MacBook Air Coming in Mid-2022

Thursday July 22, 2021 7:48 pm PDT by
Apple will release a new version of the MacBook Air around the middle of 2022, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in note to investors seen by MacRumors. The upcoming MacBook Air will feature a 13.3-inch mini-LED display, which would make it the second Mac to gain mini-LED technology after the 2021 MacBook Pro, which is rumored to include a mini-LED display and is expected to launch later ...
iphone12cameras

iPhone Helps to Identify Rare Form of Cancer

Friday July 23, 2021 4:00 am PDT by
A photo taken on an iPhone has helped to identify a rare form of cancer, according to news reports. A mother of three from Gainesville, Florida took a photo of her three-month-old son using her iPhone and its True Tone flash, which highlighted an abnormality in his right eye. The boy's mother, a labor and delivery nurse, recalled learning about retinoblastoma during her training....
iphone 13 blue with text

iPhone 13 May Support 25W Fast Charge Power Adapter

Friday July 23, 2021 2:52 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 may support faster-charging speeds with a 25W power adapter, compared to the current limitation of the iPhone 12, which only supports fast charging at up to 20W, according to a rumor originating from China. The iPhone 12 supports fast charging with a 20W or higher power adapter; however, even if users use a more powerful wall adapter, the iPhone itself only supports up to 20W....
iPad mini pro feature

Next-Generation iPad Mini Will Reportedly Feature a Mini-LED Display

Thursday July 22, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple is widely rumored to be planning a new iPad mini with a significant redesign, including a larger 8.5-inch to 9-inch display with slimmer bezels, a Touch ID power button instead of a home button, a USB-C port instead of a Lightning connector, and more. According to a paywalled preview of a DigiTimes report today, the sixth-generation iPad mini will also feature a mini-LED display:BLU...
magsafe battery pack iphone 12 mini

Top Stories: Hands-On With MagSafe Battery Pack, iPhone 13 Always-On Display?

Saturday July 24, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe Battery Pack is now available, and we went hands-on this week for some early impressions of the new accessory to get more battery life out of Apple's iPhone 12 lineup. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. This week also saw a number of rumors about the upcoming redesigned MacBook Pro models, the iPhone 13 lineup, the next-generation iPad mini, a new...