Apple plans to use iPhone 5s’ M7 motion sensing chip to improve Maps app

m7 coprocessor

With the iPhone 5s, Apple, for the first time ever, introduced a dedicated motion tracking chip independent of the CPU in an iOS device. The chip, named the “M7 coprocessor,” lets apps access accelerometer, compass and gyroscope data without consuming a lot of battery, enabling a lot of interesting use cases, especially in the health and fitness sector.

According to a 9to5Mac report, Apple’s working on using motion-related data from the M7 chip to improve its own Maps app.

As highlighted in our overview of the new A7 chip, Apple has this to say about the M7 coprocessor:

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.

The features Apple describes are certainly interesting and useful, but the company’s working on further enhancements that’ll help users find where they parked their cars. From 9to5Mac:

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.

The report adds that Apple’s also working on “notable updates” to its Maps app in the next major iOS release, iOS 8. This includes adding public transit directions, which isn’t surprising given the company’s string of mapping related acquisitions in the recent past including popular transit apps Embark and HopStop. Another Maps improvement Apple’s said to be working on is indoor-mapping, powered by iBeacons and its recent acquisition of WiFiSLAM.

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  • Uniquified

    Makes me think we need a new power benchmark — in addition to “can watch up to 10 hours of video”, we need “can use a location-based maps app for up to X hours”. I have been trained to turn off any map app as soon as I don’ t need it since it’s such a power drain…I wonder how the 5S will compare.