Apple’s iPhone 6 May Include a New Chip Dedicated to Health Data

Source: Apple

Last year, Apple introduced the groundbreaking 64-bit A7 processor for the iPhone 5S. Not surprisingly, Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6 models are widely expected to introduce the next-generation A-series chip that has already been dubbed the “A8” processor. However, a new rumor out of Asia suggests that the A7 processor won’t be the only chip that is upgraded in the next iPhone models.

According to recently leaked Apple schematics obtained by Chinese repair company GeekBar and highlighted by GforGames, the next-generation iPhone models will also include a new coprocessor that will replace the current M7.  As you may recall, besides including the 64-bit processing functionality of the A7, the system-on-a-chip (SoC) package in last year’s iPhone 5S also introduced a non-A-series chip called the M7 motion coprocessor. According to schematics uncovered by GeekBar, the next-generation coprocessor is codenamed “Phosphorus.” GeekBar speculated that it will likely be used to process new types of health-related data for the Health app and HealthKit data storage platform that was unveiled at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

It should be noted that the current M7 coprocessor already continuously detects and records motion data using an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and a compass. This data enables various health and fitness apps to run on the iPhone 5S, such as apps that keep track of a user’s total steps. When the M7 chip was first announced, several industry watchers noted that the motion-sensor chip would be ideal for use in a wearable tech product with health-monitoring capabilities, such as the long-rumored iWatch. However, now it appears that Apple will be implementing an even more powerful motion coprocessor in the iPhone 6. Although the coprocessor is currently referred to by the Phosphorus codename, it is likely that the chip will follow Apple’s typical naming conventions and be called the M8.

So what type of data will the so-called M8 coprocessor handle? Although it’s not clear from the schematics what the coprocessor’s exact functions will be, GforGames speculated that the new chip could process data such as “the heart rate, the amount of calories burned, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and more.” This suggests that one of the primary functions of the new chip will likely be collecting and processing data from peripheral devices, such as the rumored iWatch. While the iPhone may be able to calculate calories burned via motion data, it’s hard to imagine that the new iPhone 6 will include technology for measuring cholesterol levels or blood glucose.

But according to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, the iWatch will feature more than 10 types of health-monitoring and fitness-tracking sensors. This data may be collected and relayed to the iPhone 6 for apps like the previously mentioned Health app. On the other hand, there is also the possibility that the enhanced capabilities of the M8 coprocessor will simply enable iPhone 6 users to enjoy the data aggregation functions of HealthKit without any connection to the iWatch.

Besides featuring larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, Apple’s next-generation iPhone models are also rumored to include sapphire-covered displays. The two iPhone 6 models are expected to be unveiled at a media event scheduled on September 9, per sources cited by Re/code and other media outlets. However, there is far less consensus about the launch date for the iWatch. Per 9to5Mac, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the device may not be released until 2015 due to production difficulties. On the hand, PTT Research analyst Matt Margolis predicted that the iWatch will likely go on sale no later than mid-November.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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