Apple’s September 10th event came and went without any hint of the rumored ‘iWatch’ with its expected fitness and biometric capabilities.
But one thing that Apple did announce suggests that the company is at least dabbling in the area – the M7 chip in the iPhone 5s.
The M7 chip is a coprocessor, and companion to the A7 chip, which is dedicated entirely to continuously measuring motion by utilizing the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer, gyroscope and compass.
It works independently of the A7, the iPhone’s primary processor, but can itself tell when you are walking, running or driving.
This is valuable data that can be accessed by third-party health and fitness apps and we’re beginning to see developer incorporating this chip’s functionality into their own applications.
Here’s what Apple says about the new M7 chip:
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. And if your phone hasn’t moved for a while, like when you’re asleep, M7 reduces network pinging to spare your battery.
Phil Schiller previewed Nike+ Move on stage when announcing the M7 chip, although we’re yet to see the app launch officially. Below are some of the first iPhone apps that are leading the way in M7 integration.
Argus is a fully-featured health and fitness app for tracking daily exercise as well as diet, sleeping patterns and weight.
The incorporation of Apple’s M7 chip in the iPhone 5s means that it can more efficiently track your movement and count your steps, saving you some all-important battery life.
Argus turns your iPhone into a sophisticated health and fitness device as it monitors and manages your activities, food, workouts, sleep, hydration, weight and vitals, helping you make sense of numerous bio-feedback data points to reach your health goals and improve overall well-being.
- Daily step counter and activity tracking
- Creates food diary of all your meals with food snapping
- Set daily goals for steps, sleep time and hydration
- Observe trends over time with all variables to track wellness
- Create close friends list to share food photos and other data
- Uses Instant Fitness for your home workouts
- Uses Sleep Time to monitor your sleep cycles
- Uses Instant Heart Rate to monitor your heart beats
- Built in support of third party wearable devices and health apps
- M7 support for low power step counting on iPhone 5S
App Store link: Argus
Pedometer++ is possible the simplest app on this list. It’s iPhone 5s exclusive, as it requires an M7 chip explicitly, and displays your daily and weekly step counts that are collected by the M7. You can also set the app to display your current step count on your home screen as a notification badge.
Take advantage of the the new motion tracking capabilities in your iPhone 5s to improve your health. Pedometer++ lets you easily keep track of your daily and weekly step counts. You can also set the app to dynamically show your current step count as the applications badge. This will update dynamically throughout the day.
App Store link: Pedometer++
WeatherRun provides you with accurate weather information while you are outdoors engaging in exercise keeping track of weather, altitude, humidity and temperature. With the inclusion of M7 support, the latest version of WeatherRun now displays a step counter that draws data from the new chip.
Its weather data is US only for now, but other countries should be added in the future.
Outpace the weather. Outdoor activity tracking along with weather, altitude, humidity and temperature. Weather station while you are outdoors
- Support for iPhone 5S M7 Motion Coprocessor. Now users can see their daily & monthly steps.
App Store link: WeatherRun
Strava Run, as the name suggests, is a running companion app. It’s capable of tracking your runs and cycling using GPS, providing you with key data like distance, pace, split times and calories burned with more features being made available via an in-app subscription (£3.99/$5.99 per month or £39.99/$59.99 per year).
Updating to support the M7 coprocessor has meant that Strava Run can add a new feature called Auto-Pause, where your run will be automatically paused when you stop moving, and makes the app more efficient overall.
Track your runs with GPS, analyze your performance, join Challenges and see how you stack up against friends.
We’ve taken advantage of the M7 coprocessor in the iPhone 5S to make some big improvements for runners:
• Auto-pause: Get better accuracy in your pace and feedback. Your run will now automatically be paused when you stop moving.
• Run longer: Reduced battery consumption means you can spend more time on the roads and trails.
App Store link: Strava Run
What do you think about the inclusion of the M7 coprocessor? Does it point to something more from Apple in this space and how can developers continue to make their fitness apps more efficient?
Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @adamoram.