An in-depth look at how Touch ID, A7, and Secure Enclave boost iOS security

We know quite a lot about the iPhone 5s’s fingerprint scanner, Touch ID. The advanced sensor works seamlessly and learns more about your prints over time so it continues to expand your fingerprint map as additional overlapping nodes are identified with each use.

It can match prints in any orientation, unless your fingers are greasy or wet, or there’s some dirt or debris on the Home button. There’s a 1 in 50,000 chance of a successful random match with someone else’s print, which is much better than the 1 in 10,000 odds of guessing a typical four-digit passcode.

The Touch ID sensor doesn’t store actual fingerprint images and instead creates an encrypted profile of your print and stores it on a module on the A7 processor called the Secure Enclave that’s walled off from the rest of the system.

After five unsuccessful fingerprint match attempts, or after every restart, the system asks for your passcode  so that hackers can’t stall for time. These are pretty much key pieces of information on Touch ID that was made public since its inception.

Today, Apple updated its iOS Security white paper [PDF download] with a few previously unknown specifics relating to how Touch ID works side by side with the A7 chip and its Secure Enclave portion to detect a fingerprint match in a highly secure manner. The document also details other security safeguards Apple put in place to prevent tampering with fingerprint data…

Apple renews contract with its mobile GPU provider, Imagination Technologies

The fabless semiconductor maker, Imagination Technologies, has been providing Apple’s iPad and iPhone with its graphics and video hardware since 2007. On Thursday, the UK-based company announced extending its licensing agreement with Apple, giving the iPhone maker multi-year access to Imagination’s current and future PowerVR-branded graphics and video GPU blueprints.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Both Apple and Intel are investors in Imagination, with the former holding a ten percent ownership stake in the company…

University of Wisconsin takes Apple to court over A7’s performance-enhancing tricks

The University of Wisconsin via its patent-licensing arm, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, has filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging the company’s in-house designed A7 chip infringes the foundation’s patent designed to improve “the efficiency and performance of contemporary computer processors” by introducing a new process for allowing quicker execution of processor instructions.

It’s been reported Monday that Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip, which acts as the primary engine driving the iPhone 5s, the iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina display, apparently uses this technology without permission…

BytaFont 2 is out with support for iOS 7, A7 devices

Adding to our list of popular jailbreak tweaks that have been updated for iOS 7 this morning is BytaFont. The developers announced yesterday that BytaFont 2 is now available in Cydia with support for iOS 7 and A7 devices.

This is great news for folks who like to really customize the UI on their iPhone or iPad, as BytaFont allows you to change the default font in iOS. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like any of the old fonts are compatible with BF 2…

Qualcomm employee: Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip ‘set off panic in the industry’

In October, Qualcomm’s chief marketing officer Anand Chandrasekher made headlines when he commented in an interview that Apple’s new 64-bit A7 chip was just a ‘marketing gimmick’ that added ‘zero benefit’ for the customer.

Qualcomm was quick to backtrack on the executive’s remarks, and according to a new report, that’s not what it was thinking at all. Speaking with a source inside the company, Dan Lyons says Apple’s 64-bit chip rocked the industry…

Popular Day One journal app updated with new iOS 7 design, M7 support and more

Good news for folks who use Day One this morning. The popular journal app has been updated with a new iOS 7 design and several new features, including support for Apple’s new 64-bit A7 processor.

Additionally, the update, which brings the app to version 1.12, includes support for the new M7 coprocessor. And this allows the app to do things like count your steps and auto-track your daily activities…

Retina iPad mini teardown: LG Display Retina panel, larger battery, A7 and more

Yesterday, I wondered on Twitter what was taking the repair magicians over at iFixit so long to do their ritual teardown of Apple’s stealthily-released iPad mini with Retina display. My prayers have been listened to as iFixit has torn apart the device, revealing its guts and components for the whole world to see. As you could imagine, they found an Apple-designed A7 chip inside, slightly underclocked versus the iPad Air.

On top of that, there are usual suspects in terms of wireless and supporting chips. As for the titular update to this iPad mini – the Retina display – the teardown analysis has identified an LG Display-supplied 7.9-inch in-plane switching LCD with a 2,048-by-1,536 screen resolution.

While the resolution is the same as the iPad 3/4/Air, the images are crisper at 326 pixels per inch (264 ppi on the iPad Air) due to a shrunken form factor, as noted MacStories editor Federico Viticci noted in his hands-on article.

Other tidbits follow…

Retina iPad mini’s A7 chip slightly underclocked versus iPad Air

In a surprise non-announcement, Apple’s iPad mini with Retina display has unexpectedly gone on sale this morning. For the time being, the device is available online for shipping or with in-store pick-up.

What you can’t do (yet) is just walk in and purchase one due to supply constraints and ongoing manufacturing woes as Apple is “working hard” to meet demand. Availability issues aside, what’s there to get excited about the device?

For The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple, the answer is simple: the iPad mini with Retina display is a no-compromise play – thou shall no longer sacrifice clarity for portability as the tablet packs in the same Retina display like its bigger brother, the iPad Air.

In fact, the only difference between the two is the screen size as the new iPad mini runs the same A7 processor that debuted on the iPhone 5s and made its way into the iPad Air. And just how speedy is the Retina iPad mini vs. the iPhone 5s and iPad Air?

Here are the first benchmark scores…

Actually, it was Samsung who sub-contracted GlobalFoundries to build Apple chips

Yesterday, the unconfirmed news broke out about a surprise tie-in between Apple and GlobalFoundries, the world’s top semiconductor foundry second only to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) which counts Nvidia, Broadcom, Qualcomm and AMD as its clients.

The Albany Times Union newspaper asserted that GlobalFoundries will build Apple’s A-series chips for iOS devices at a new $6 billion facility in upstate New York. The development has led some folks to conjure up that Apple could be finally ditching Samsung for semiconductor manufacture, but that’s not really the case at all. Read on…

Apple may have partnered with GlobalFoundries on iDevice chip production

Milpitas, California-headquartered GlobalFoundries, one of the top semiconductor operations in the world, owns and runs cutting-edge multi-billion dollar production facilities all over the globe in places like Germany, Singapore and the United States.

Along with TSMC, GlobalFoundries gets frequently contracted to build various chips for such clients as AMD, Broadcom, Qualcomm and STMicroelectronics. And now, the company has apparently scored a major win, Apple, if a new report is anything to go by.

According to an unnamed source “close to the company” who spoke to the Times Union newspaper, GlobalFoundries may soon start building processors for iPhones, iPads and iPods at its new $6 billion Fab 8 facility in Malta, New York, just north of Albany…

Initial iPad Air benchmarks show 90% performance increase

There were two recurring themes in the first round of iPad Air reviews that began hitting the web late last night: the tablet has substantially decreased in size (that includes weight, thickness, etc.), and dramatically increased in speed.

While we will probably have to wait until we go hands-on to really understand the former claim, the latter can be seen in initial benchmark testing. Early GeekBench results show the Air outperforming its predecessor by a huge margin…

Qualcomm exec’s career suffers from ‘A7 is a marketing gimmick’ comment

Qualcomm’s marketing chief has been reassigned after dismissing Apple’s new 64-bit A7 processor as a ‘marketing gimmick.’ The chipmaker’s former Chief Marketing Officer has also been removed from Qualcomm’s leadership page. Instead, Anand Chandrasekher was put in charge of a broadly-worded “exploration of certain enterprise related initiatives.”

Earlier this month, Chandrasekher called the 64-bit A7 processor “a marketing gimmick” with zero consumer benefit. The A7 now powers Apple’s new iPhone 5s and iPad Air. The comment forced Qualcomm to publicly rebuke its marketing head for essentially denying reality…