The iPhone already comespackedwith sensors, but anew report from 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurmansays this year’s model might come with yet another sensor that’s commonly used to measure temperature, air pressure, and altitude.
That’s right. Gurman believes this year’s iPhone may feature a barometer for the first time.
The references to a barometer in an upcoming iPhone were discovered by FutureTap developer Ortwin Gentz, who discovered frameworks dedicated to “altitude tracking” within a version of Xcode 6 for iOS 8, the second beta for which was released Tuesday.
Gentz said he tried testing the framework with an iPhone 5S but the hardware would not accept or support the new framework; 9to5Mac tried a similar test of the framework, which only seemed to confirm Gentz’s findings.
Even the iPhone 5s returns NO to [CMAltimeter isRelativeAltitudeAvailable]. So I assume the iPhone 6 will come with a barometer.
— Ortwin Gentz (@ortwingentz) June 18, 2014
In other words, the new tracking functionality must be written for a yet-to-be-released Apple device — or devices
. Since the barometer reference was buried within the code for iOS 8, it’s possible any barometer-related features could be included in the next iPhone or next iPads. It could even be integrated into Apple’s upcoming smartwatch project, which will reportedly release in October.
Furthermore, it also seems like the barometer will play a big role in ambient pressure tracking, which helps determine weather pressure as well as altitude. Since a barometer can read air pressure to determine if it’s going to be sunny or stormy, the inclusion of this sensor could open up the potential for third-party applications to leverage the sensor for things like mapping, location tracking, and crowdsourcing of weather data.
In general, a barometer could give iPhone users a better idea of their surroundings without needing to rely on third-party weather apps or an internet connection — both of which can be unreliable at times. By giving more-precise information about a user’s immediate environment, Apple and other developers could potentially create applications that crowdsource this air pressure data to deliver more-accurate and useful feedback.
So where would the barometer go? Considering how the M7 motion co-processor in the iPhone 5s houses the phone’s accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass — also assisting the main A7 chipset with the computing load — Gurman believes the next iPhone will bury the barometer inside an M8 co-processor, thus allowing the 64-bit A8 chip more freedom to handle intensive tasks and applications.
While Apple has never included a barometer in any of its mobile devices thus far, there are several Android handsets that include the sensor, including the Motorola Xoom and Samsung’s popular Galaxy Nexus. The iPhone has several other sensors, including an ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, a proximity sensor, a magnetometer, and most recently, the gyroscope was added in 2010 for the release of the iPhone 4S.
Besides the possible barometer, we believe Apple’s next iPhone — presumably called “iPhone 6” — will feature a sharper display made of sapphire glass and a thinner and rounder form factor. Most reports also say the next iPhone will feature a bigger screen, though some have said Apple will actually release two large-screened models measuring 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. The current iPhone 5S and 5C models both feature 4-inch screens.