Is The iPhone’s M7 Chip The Key To Making Apple Maps Not Suck?

The motion co-processor could detect changes in activity to offer smarter directions.

Is The iPhone’s M7 Chip The Key To Making Apple Maps Not Suck?

When Apple debuted the iPhone 5S, it touted a new M7 motion co-processor that worked alongside the powerful A7 chip to measure motion data for fitness apps. But as Kit Eaton pointed out during Apple’s big unveil, the chip will likely be “used in clever ways we can’t predict yet.” Though the company didn’t announce this at Tuesday’s event, it looks like one of those ways is improving Apple Maps.

The M7 motion chip helps the iPhone run efficiently without draining battery life by detecting a user’s activities. It is able to differentiate between walking, running, and driving. But the website has added a few more details, noting that Maps can switch between driving and walking directions when one parks the car and travels on foot. Given this context, the iPhone 5S also knows not to search for and join new Wi-Fi networks when in a moving car to decrease power consumption.

9to5Mac reports that Apple is also testing a tool that could register a car’s location when parked. With this information, the iPhone can help track down a vehicle in a crowded parking lot. 9to5Mac also notes that Apple is “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.” From the sound of it, Apple is putting its location startup acquisitions to work. In the last two months alone, it acquired transit app HopStop; Locationary, which crowdsources location data; and Embark, a public transportation app targeting travelers.

[Images: Alice Truong, Engadget]

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.