New in iOS 7: Motion Activity

By , Sep 20, 2013

iPhone 5s keynote (M7 specs slide)

Apple’s iOS 7 software includes a new privacy section nested inside the Settings application. It exists to explicitly cater to next-gen fitness apps specifically designed with Apple’s new M7 chip in mind. As you know, the M7 motion coprocessor is iPhone 5s-exclusive (actually a rebranded NXP LPC18A1 chip – that’s the power of marketing to you)…

The new chip helps save power by measuring motion data from the handset’s accelerometer, gyroscope and compass sensors. If handled by the main A7 processor, these tasks would draw six times the power. Apple’s iOS 7 Maps app on the iPhone 5s uses motion data to automatically switch from driving to walking turn-by-turn navigation.

Your iPhone will also poll M7 to reduce Wi-Fi pinging if it hasn’t moved for a while – again, to improve battery performance.

This is what Motion Activity in iOS 7 Settings > Privacy looks like, right below.

Because it’s in Settings > Privacy, you’ll be approving motion activity access on a per-app basis, akin to how third-party apps must ask for user permission to access your contacts, photos, Bluetooth, microphone and more.

iOS 7 (Settings, Motion Activity 002)iOS 7 (Settings, Motion Activity 001)

Note you’ll only see this on an iPhone 5s.

According to Apple, the M7 knows when you’re walking, running or even driving without constantly engaging the A7. The motion coprocessor can log this data day in, day out – even when your iPhone is locked and not in use.

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.

Upon waking the device up, your motion data is passed to an app that may have been inactive all this time. This is all handled via the new classes in the iOS 7 CoreMotion API (which has been around since iOS 4.0) that specifically tap the M7 to identify user movement and offer “optimizations based on contextual awareness”.

white iPhone 5s front

Apple’s press release reads:

The M7 motion coprocessor continuously measures your motion data, even when the device is asleep, and saves battery life for pedometer or other fitness apps that use the accelerometer all day.

Company executives said the CoreMotion API + M7 combo will do wonders for health and fitness apps, normally one of the biggest power drains on the App Store. In fact, Apple executives during the keynote briefly showed us screenies taken from an upcoming Nike fitness software (depicted above) that uses the M7 chip.

The app’s called Nike Move but don’t look for it on the App Store yet: small print at the bottom of Apple’s iPhone 5s web page says Nike+ Move “will be available later this year on the App Store”.

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  • pokaprophet

    Oh great. So when I get stuck in a traffic jam the navigation switches to walking. Sticking with TomTom.

    • BoardDWorld

      Not at all, it will be monitoring vibrations.

      • Sandy Cook

        lol?

    • Mycelus

      Dumbass..

    • Nestea80

      I think you should stick to using paper maps. Technology isn’t for you.

      • TesticularFortitude

        Lol…

      • @dongiuj

        Yeah, cheaper and more reliable/stable.

    • Evan_Beezy

      Pretty sure they factor this in

  • LAGISSUEZ

    These little details are exactly why the iPhone is so great and why fandroid haters will always hate. The most common fandroid comment is “why do all these isheep keep buying such crapple products?”
    It’s details like these is why. We apple fans actually read about the products we love.

    • :E

      Fandroids read about Androids, too–there’s simply nothing noteworthy to read about ;P

    • Jerry

      exactly. whenever someone without a iphone asks me why is the iphone better than the android I say. “I just works”. honestly what more do you want me to say

    • Sandy Cook

      So you’ve been an Apple fanboi all this time because of stuff that wasn’t out yet? You sound like you’re honest and humble

      • LAGISSUEZ

        Actually, I have.

    • Amadhya Jain

      Dude, these ideas are being directly picked up from android. I can guarantee that in the next iPhone launch, Apple would be like “NFC, we just added it and it has these tonnes of features. Its revolutionary, it just works” and pretend to have invented the technology. This has already happened a billion times. For eg-Do Not Disturb already existed in Samsung Galaxy as Blocking Mode, Cellular+Wifi, already existed in Galaxy flagships, the so called new Automatically Update My Apps (in iOS7) feature has existed in android since 2.1 (over 4 year old) version, the uninstall update has also existed in Android sice 2.1. Apple always adds existing technology and then pretends to have innovated.
      Now lets get back to the processor. The technology to devide the work done to a set of processors/cpres has already existed. Infact, the Galxy S4 features 8cores in which 4 work to do simple tasks such as motion sensing, system apps and take over the phone when the extra raw power is not needed. The other 4 cores come into play when you are using graphic intensive apps/games which require extra power. This saves power. Something similar was announced in the Moto X (I would not go into too much detail).
      Now, instead of having more cores, Apple brings in more processors which work in a similar manner to Samsung’s 8 cores. Is there any difference b/w the two except the labels/names (Cores and Processor is the only difference).
      And since the past, on every Android release, iSheeps have gone onto saying that “so what, the *android phone* has more raw power and has a higher rating in benchmarks. But, we don’t need that power and our iPhones are faster even without the extra cores/RAM.” But now, you guys are suddenly going crazy about “My phone has a 64 bit OS, its so much faster and has a higher rating than any Android phone, Android is crap.” Okay, I agree, iPhone 5s is much faster. Thats it. But why would you revive your statement, Are you spineless or just don’t stand by your word?

      • LAGISSUEZ

        As far as I’m concerned, Apple started the whole smartphone craze (not the first smartphone, the craze, don’t get it twisted) and ever since, all the copycats have been playing catch up. Don’t believe me? Samsung would LOVE to see lines wrapping around buildings to pickup their new smart phone. It just doesn’t happen. Apple creates a level of refinement that you just don’t get with any other brand. People see this and that’s why there is such a following. I don’t really care what smart phone you choose to use but all I know is that I would never NEVER buy any brand other than Apple. And where the heck did you get spineless from??

      • Shrey Gupta

        True man.. there are many android fans in my office and believe me, when i bought the iPhone 5, they all came to see it and after using it for a minute or two all of them said the same thing “This phone is just awesome, feels great in our hands”

      • Amadhya Jain

        See bro, I have no problem with you buying an iPhone. Whatever you, I agree on almost all points. Its true that if iOS never existed, this segment of smartphones and Android would have never existed. But now, Apple is just refusing to innovate. They have a head start but they are not using it. And soon, someone is going to come and take over the crown. The ecosystem of Apple, as is, is the best but besides that, they are lacking at almost everything. Until recently, they didn’t have the best specs in the market (though that’s because iOS never needed those specs, but numbers count), they have gone onto copying almost every feature of Android ie the Control Centre (which mimics the Quick Settings), the new multi tasking (have a look at multi tasking on HTC One X on Sense 4+ version, check YouTube), everything written in my previous content and God knows what not! The fact is that lately Apple is playing the catching up. And I made the move to Android a year ago, and haven’t faced a problem yet. Sure, I am running 3 versions old (on my Galaxy Note 2) but that is 4.1.2 and is on par with Apple’s iOS 7. The only two things that I miss having are the App Store and the premium body/shell that iPhone offers. Except that, Android has caught up on almost everything.
        And the comment of Tim Cook (not really sure, please ignore if I’m wrong) that out of every 21 Android phones sold by Atnt, 6 are running three versions back is actually wrong. The latest Android version is 4.3, the next in line is 4.2 and the next is 4.1. They don’t have big differences, its not the difference b/w iOS4 and iOS6/7. All the three were released within an year.
        Ohh and if you read my previous comment once again, you will understand what I meant by ‘spine less’. What I meant to say was that a year ago all the Apple fans were saying that *insert name if Android phone* would be faster than iOS only by 2 to 3 seconds and that makes no difference. But now, they are all blabbing (sorry, being too harsh) that the new iPhone 5s is faster than any Android phone. They don’t stand by their word. Don’t you see why I called them spine less?

      • LAGISSUEZ

        Here’s the thing, and this is really my opinion but it wouldn’t surprise me if I was hitting the nail on the head. Yeah android may be “innovating” faster than Apple, but don’t forget that it’s one company vs many that are coming out with droid phones. Apple can’t release a new version of their phone every three months. And most of the “innovations” that droid “came up with” were actually jailbreak tweaks on the iphone years ago. I’ve had all those tweaks on my jb iphone 4 long before droid did.

        I don’t think apple is refusing to innovate. What I do think they are doing is taking careful consideration of the things they put into the phone because they don’t want to clutter the OS with things that the average user will never use. Sure there are people like you and me who know their way in and out of smartphones and computers but the gods honest truth is that most people are really kinda dumb (let me be nice and say uneducated) about all this tech stuff. Apple realizes this and makes their decisions around a balance of power users and the rest of us. (remember this is all of my opinion still)

        I don’t see how you can really think Apple is refusing to innovate though. Did you not just learn about the fingerprint scanner in the 5s? Yeah all it does is unlock the phone and stuff for now but it drastically deters the market for stolen iphones (as does the new software in ios7). Most people will say “oh I don’t care about that” but you know what, a lot of people do. Also, on paper it may not look like they are innovating much past that but again MOST people do not read about the details and those details are the ones found in the OS that continue to refine the experience that makes it so great (I don’t feel like listing all the details, just wanna finish this)

        I can’t speak for those who compare numbers to numbers, megapixels to core count, ram size to storage space. People that do that are in my opinion the ones that “sorta” know tech. Kinda like someone who can tell you a car with a 300hp motor is faster than a 200hp motor. Yeah anyone can see that. HOWEVER, this is not always the case and we both know that!

        Let me tell you why I’ll never buy a droid phone but before I do, let me say that I’m not a complete hater. I love tech gadgets and I think on their own, there are a lot of great droid phones like the HTC one and moto x.
        But when you have something to compare it to, they are not as great.

        1. Apples level of refinement from hardware to software is amazing. Not found in droid phones.

        2. Android fragmentation. If I bought a droid, there is no guarantee that down the line I’ll be able to run such and such app or get said feature in an update because of the flooded market.

        3. App availability. The app store is massive. The phone is only as good as the apps available to it.

        4. Malware. It’s bad enough that I have to deal with it on my computer. Dealing with it on my smartphone? No thanks.

        So, just to recap. Apple is in no way shape or form refusing to innovate. They are one company that takes the time to get it right the first time, even if that means rolling out features that may already be out on other phones.

        It’s just like Steve Jobs said, “we didn’t invent the smartphone, we’re just making it better.”

      • Shrey Gupta

        What about Samsung introducing the 64 bit processor chip in their next phone?

        Samsung launched a phone with 8 cores, Apple didn’t. Apple launched a 64 bit chip, Samsung announced on the next day that they will be launching a phone with 64 bit chip.

      • Evan_Beezy

        Lol with Android taking no benefits from it. But you know it’ll be good on that spec sheet.

      • Evan_Beezy

        So how often do u use NFC a week?

      • LAGISSUEZ

        ^ This.

      • @dongiuj

        In Japan, I know for a fact that MILLIONS of people EVERYDAY use NFC with their phones. Have been for the past 5 years or so.

      • @dongiuj

        VERY well said!

      • Luis Moraes

        we already have airplay. no walking around the room bumping phone

  • Donglemecurious

    Can someone please point out an example of this supposed “Next Gen” of fitness devices? Please don’t say Nike, either. They are the Sony of fitness products and don’t play nice with anything other than their own products or iPhones specifically. (Yes, they are just lately starting to play nice with a few android products at long last.)

    Fitness bands and heart monitor chest straps have been on low power Bluetooth for a little over a year now compared to the monstrous dongles and workarounds they had to use before. But what are we talking about with the M7 taking inputs from the iPhone’s sensors here? That the iPhone is going to take the place of fitness bands/heart monitors? Is there something new here on the horizon that I am missing?

    Sweaty iPhones going out of warranty because the liquid sensor is tripped?

    Coremotion and low power Bluetooth already allowed apps to collect data while the device was asleep. So this this is just a way to save slightly more battery and kill a few devices in the category?

    Edit: Not trying to harsh here. Just extremely curious as to where the evolution is going.

  • Tom Brady

    That Nike app on the iPhone 5 worked just fine

    • Donglemecurious

      It doesn’t work if you are a treadmill runner. Probably why I sound bitter about it, really.

  • appl3h4ck3r

    Off topic here- iDB: you guys should post an article when an available (and reputable) r-sim unlocking chip is available and compatible with iOS 7 :)

  • Ben Barros

    iphone will always be better then android no malware issues freezing up fast battery drainage and there are always 5 or more androids that come out every year to try and keep up with apple lol

    • Kenrick Fernandes

      ios7 does cause alot of battery drainage

      • Litchy

        My iPhone 5 lasts longer on iOS 7 than it did on iOS 6 :)

      • Saeed Ghattas

        Mine too

      • Äppleefan

        same here

  • Kenrick Fernandes

    has anyone in iOS7 experienced a lag when switching from potrait to landscape. Try it in Safari or Message app. Why is this happening

    • Litchy

      Actually I think its intended to wait for about 1 second before it switches so it doesn’t happen by accident

      • Kenrick Fernandes

        no i meant when it switches from potrait to landscape there is a lag in the animation itself. Jerky..

      • Kurt

        Have it. It’s minor but yeah its not smooth. But it is smooth from landscape to portrait. There are quite a bit of bugs, battery drain and lag. Hopefully there will be an update to address all these issues.

    • Joonyaboy

      Mine is fine : iPhone 5

    • @dongiuj

      My daughter’s iphone4 keeps freezing in the photo app. DAMN annoying!

  • Raph Ael

    Sorry for the question here. Since iOS 7 beta 6. The panorma wallpaper don’t work on my iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S… Same in the gm and now in the public version.. You got the same problem?

    • Joonyaboy

      They removed that feature

      • Raph Ael

        Damn why?

      • Donglemecurious

        To highlight the fact that if you don’t jailbreak, it’s still their device.

        Battery or just too much pointless motion for some Apple higher up, most likely. A tweak for panorama will probably be one of the first releases after the Evad3rs save us.

  • skychet

    I got really excited when I read the title of this article… then upon reading I realized it is exclusive to the iPhone 5s, not iOS 7. Oh misleading headlines.