When the iPhone 5s was first announced, much was made of the A7 chip inside the device. Not only is the 5s the fastest in a currently available smartphone, but the chip has also facilitated a new fingerprint-scanning feature that allows users to unlock their phones and make purchases by simply tapping the home button.

Though the A7 chip certainly is powerful, the iPhone 5s also features another, secondary chip that is just as revolutionary as the A7 and may actually provide some insight into what might be coming next from Apple. The M7 chip is a motion-sensing chip that aggregates all of the data from the iPhone’s compass, accelerometer, and gyro motion sensors and exports it not only to fitness applications but also iPhone system processes.

For instance, if it senses no movement for a long time, the iPhone will know that you are asleep and put itself into a battery-saving mode that doesn’t fetch data as often.

The secondary chip can also integrate with mapping applications and provide directions for walking or driving, depending on what motions are detected, according to TechRadar.

Although these features are great for the iPhone 5s, many in the tech world are looking at this as a signal that Apple is indeed considering developing a smartwatch, and they believe the company is using the iPhone 5s as a testing ground for the M7 chip. Since the M7 works independently, Apple can use data gathered about the M7′s performance in a phone and make modifications it may deem necessary to get the chip ready for prime time in a wearable device.

Though Apple has yet to formally announce a wearable product, it looks like they are testing the waters with their current flagship product. This could mean, however, that a smartwatch is still very much in the development stage and might not appear until next year.

Though the M7 chip is rumored to be the foundation for a different product, Apple is probably hoping the chip will find support within the iPhone development community first. Though Nike is already confirmed to be working on motion-tracking apps using the chip, no other third-party developers have been announced yet. The M7 is a powerful tool for motion sensing, and if developers can harness that power, that could translate into success not only on the iPhone platform but on Apple’s unannounced potential smartwatch platform as well.

Image courtesy of Flickr


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