Apple Working to Leverage New 'M7' Motion-Sensing Chip for Mapping Improvements

Alongside the new A7 main chip unveiled in the iPhone 5s this week, Apple also featured a new "M7" motion coprocessor designed to capture motion data to support new features such as health and fitness applications. As Apple notes on its feature page, the chip can also enhance mapping and location functions, helping the iPhone 5s sense and interpret movement.

The new M7 coprocessor is like a sidekick to the A7 chip. It’s designed specifically to measure motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass — a task that would normally fall to the A7 chip. But M7 is much more efficient at it. Now fitness apps that track physical activity can access that data from the M7 coprocessor without constantly engaging the A7 chip. So they require less battery power.

M7 knows when you’re walking, running, or even driving. For example, Maps switches from driving to walking turn-by-turn navigation if, say, you park and continue on foot. Since M7 can tell when you’re in a moving vehicle, iPhone 5s won’t ask you to join Wi-Fi networks you pass by. And if your phone hasn’t moved for a while, like when you’re asleep, M7 reduces network pinging to spare your battery.

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But beyond those mapping and navigation features, Apple is also working on tapping into the power of the M7 to add additional enhancements in future software updates, according to a report from 9to5Mac. Those improvements include the ability to help find a parked car as well as new features for public transit navigation and indoor mapping.

Sources say that Apple is testing a tool for its Maps app that, with the M7 chip, could analyze when your car is parked. When you park your car, the iPhone will register the car’s location. Now when you return to the parking lot, your iPhone will be able to help you assist with finding your car since it knows the vehicle’s location.

Besides the car-finding feature, Apple is also working on other mapping features. Apple is said to be planning notable updates to its Maps app in iOS 8, and the company is currently working on implementing both public transit directions and indoor mapping features (which Google already has on iOS).

These potential additions should be no surprise of course, as Apple has revealed its interest in such features through recent acquisitions of several smaller companies. In particular, Apple has acquired public transit app firms HopStop and Embark and indoor mapping firm WifiSLAM within just the past six months.

The iPhone 5s with Apple's new M7 chip launches on Friday, September 20.

Tag: 9to5Mac
Related Forum: iPhone

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Top Rated Comments

TheKrs1 Avatar
140 months ago
Yay! More opportunities for Apple to collect data about us.

True. But it's still part of why I'm in the Apple ecosysytem and not Android. Yes, they both collect information about us. (I would bet Google collects the most). Apple uses that information to give us a better experience. Google will also provide you key information to improve your experience, but they are also heavily leveraging that info for advertisments etc.
Score: 54 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DowdyFick Avatar
140 months ago
Yay! More opportunities for Apple to collect data about us.

Please, you're not that important :rolleyes:
Score: 50 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
140 months ago
Yay! More opportunities for Apple to collect data about us.

Same old paranoid nonsense.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Noctilux.95 Avatar
140 months ago
Yay! More opportunities for Apple to collect data about us.

No one is interested in what your mom packed in your Transformers lunch box this morning :D
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
joneill55 Avatar
140 months ago
Better user experiences is the driving force behind Apple designs and why I am firmly entrenched in their ecosystem. Some are more successful than other at times, but their relentless pursuit of perfection and commitment to refinement of the user experience are notable and appreciated by this shareholder/customer.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BC2009 Avatar
140 months ago
I wonder why they don't use this a marketing strategy? Instead they use this 'Touch ID'. WOW...

For me this M7 chip is the innovation within the 5S, not the chip itself but the idea of how you can use it. Seriously, WTF Apple!?
You're seriously missing the power of Touch ID that is going to be unlocked as soon as iCloud Keychain comes to iOS 7 (maybe with the Mavericks launch). Imagine going to any website that requires a password and tapping a button to auto-fill the password and just having to touch the fingerprint sensor to access your keychain. You could even log into third-party apps if they open up the API for an app to retrieve its specific credentials -- they just need to ensure that one app cannot impersonate another.

Touch ID is going to be indispensable in mobile phone usage. It will bring the power of 1Password to a smartphone with one-touch unlock. You will also see Touch ID on iPads and on MacBooks and possibly on Apple's stand-alone trackpad -- though there are some security issues with transmitting the fingerprint over wireless from the trackpad.

M7 is cool too, but Touch ID marketing is heavily muted right now because Apple is obviously making sure they can properly secure user passwords from the likes of the NSA in the wake of recent news (hence the delayed launch of iCloud Keychain).
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)