CoreMotion APIs reveal the presence of actual and relative altitude measurements in iPhone 6 that will be used for both outdoor activities and indoor mapping.
We’ve seen Apple’s WWDC 2014 announcement regarding Health and HealthKit, Home and HomeKit, as well as features such as Handoff, iCloud Drive, interactive notifications, QuickType, improved Group Messaging and location sharing, Tap to Talk, Family Sharing, and easier cross-device photo access in iOS 8. These features have been announced, but there’re some new clues on the horizon about additional features we may see in iOS 8.
A new report says that you can add a barometer and altimeter to iOS 8 as well.
Evidence comes to us by way of iOS 8 CoreMotion APIs (provided by Ortwin Gentz) that has been shown to developers. One section of the new code leaks contains references to “CMAltitudeHandler,” with the discussion saying that “CMAltimeter provides information about the altitude of the device.” While current iPhones such as the iPhone 5s provide information about weather and temperature, there’s nothing yet available within the device itself dedicated to tracking a hiker’s altitude on a mountaintop, for example. You can currently measure your altitude with the iPhone’s GPS system and the M7 motion coprocessor, a motion chip placed within the device for this very reason. When Apple placed the M7 motion coprocessor within the iPhone 5s, many believed that Cupertino intended to create a Health platform of some kind – and many analysts predicted the iWatch would emerge last year. It didn’t, but Apple always does things with future goals in mind. Some of the company’s largest surprises arrive after a few years in laying the groundwork.
In another snippet of iOS 8 code, we also discover that relative altitude is measured – referring to changes in altitude. The CoreMotion API refers to “isRelativeAltitudeAvailable,” a small piece of code that shows us that Apple is at least looking into the idea. If you know, Apple, however, the company places its resources into projects that it looks to bring to fruition. To track both the altitude and changing altitudes as a hiker climbs a mountain or other terrain, the new iPhone 6 will likely feature a barometer (the instrument responsible for measuring altitude, weather, temperature, and air pressure.
While the barometer and altimeter can be used for outdoor activities such as hiking, running, and walking, they can also serve an indoor purpose. Apple purchased indoor mapping company WifiSLAM back in March 2013, and WifiSLAM, unlike Apple, doesn’t rely on GPS to measure the location of an iPhone user; rather, the company utilizes Wi-Fi signals. Though purchasing the company last year, Apple had already started thinking about indoor mapping as early as 2010. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted Apple a Wi-Fi indoor-mapping patent earlier this year titled “Determining a location of a mobile device using a location database.” The new patent would allow users to know where they are in any building, without the need to figure out where you are and where your destination office may be.