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
127 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
127 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
127 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
127 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
127 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
127 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)

Related Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
YouTube Picture in Picture Feature

YouTube Premium Subscribers Can Now Use iOS Picture-in-Picture: Here's How

Wednesday August 25, 2021 3:55 am PDT by
Google has rolled out picture-in-picture support as an "experimental" feature for YouTube premium subscribers, allowing them to watch video in a small window when the app is closed. If you're a premium YouTube subscriber looking to try out picture-in-picture, follow these steps: Launch a web browser and sign into your YouTube account at YouTube.com. Navigate to www.youtube.com/new. Scroll...
M1X MBP Feature

Leaker: Upcoming MacBook Pro to See Price Hike Over Current Model, Equal Performance Across 14 and 16-Inch Sizes

Tuesday August 24, 2021 5:28 am PDT by
The upcoming 14-inch MacBook Pro is set to be more expensive than the current 13-inch MacBook Pro and both the 14 and 16-inch models will offer the same performance, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." The leaker shared the information on Twitter, explaining that both of the upcoming MacBook Pro models, expected to come in 14 and 16-inch sizes, will feature the same performance due...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
ryanscoolios13thumbnail

Apple Releases iOS 13.1.3 With Bug Fixes for Phone, Mail, Health, and More

Tuesday October 15, 2019 10:09 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 13.1.3 and iPadOS 13.1.3, minor updates to the iOS 13.1.2 software that was released two weeks ago. This is the fourth update to the iOS 13 operating system that came out in September. The iOS and iPadOS 13.1.3 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings > General > Software Update....
Top Stories 75 Thumbnail

Top Stories: Last-Minute iPhone 13 Rumors, Apple Announces App Store Changes, and More

Saturday September 4, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
The finish line is in sight! Apple's annual iPhone event is likely just a week or so away and all eyes will be on the company as it unveils the next version of its most popular product line. With any luck, we'll also see the next-generation Apple Watch and perhaps even some new AirPods. Other news this week saw Apple making some more changes to its App Store policies in response to a...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
maxresdefault

Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak Discuss iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, Privacy, Shortcuts on Mac, and More

Saturday June 12, 2021 6:12 am PDT by
As is tradition, Apple executives Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak joined Daring Fireball's John Gruber in an episode of The Talk Show to discuss several announcements that Apple made over this weeks WWDC, including iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and a large focus around privacy. Federighi kicks off the conversation discussing the common architecture, now thanks to Apple silicon, across all of...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Seeds Third Betas of iOS and iPadOS 14.6 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday May 10, 2021 10:13 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the third betas of new iOS and iPadOS 14.6 updates to developers for testing purposes, one week after seeding the second iOS and iPadOS 14.6 updates. iOS and iPadOS 14.6 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. iOS and iPadOS 14.6 appear to be more minor changes focusing on...