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A closer look at Apple’s two new iPhones

By Evan Wade / September 18, 2013


Software isn’t the only thing changing with the release of iOS 7. Hardware recently made mobile headlines with Apple’s introduction of two new additions to its stable: the souped-up, 64-bit iPhone 5s and the budget-priced iPhone 5c. Here’s a quick look at what to expect on September 20 when these phones are released.

iPhone 5c: inexpensive, not cheap

Don’t let the colorful plastic exterior fool you. Apple may have cut costs by foregoing their standard glass-and-aluminum design, but the iPhone 5c still packs all the power we’ve come to expect from the 5 series. By offering what’s essentially an iPhone 5 in new packaging, Tim Cook and company have put themselves in a much better position to compete with the powerful, yet budget-priced, devices running Android or Windows. With the same screen resolution and internal hardware as the iPhone 5, the 5c is fully capable of running the same apps as the iPhone 5 or 5s.

iPhone 5s: fingerprint scanning and 64-bit processing

Yes, you read that right. A fingerprint scanner, one of the more outlandish iPhone-related rumors to make the mobile news rounds this year, will come standard on the iPhone 5s, and it looks really, really cool. Built into the Home button, Touch ID scanners will be able to read users’ fingerprints, allowing them to access their phone, enter passwords and even make purchases in Apple-sanctioned stores with a single touch.

Things get even more technical and, for many developers, more exciting once you peek under the hood of the 5s. The new A7 processor makes it the first phone with 64-bit processing, a development that will push other manufacturers to deliver their own desktop-class mobile hardware.

The upgrade could also have a major impact on the future of converged devices. Jason Perlow, Senior Technology Editor at ZDNet.com, predicts “smartphones will become the center of our computing experience and even extend themselves to tablets and the desktop through a unified operating system that runs identically on all three form factors and is supplanted by back-end Cloud services, which will do the heavy lifting for our line-of-business applications and data.”

The change in hardware offers some real benefits to present-day developers. The M7, a so-called “co-processor” designed to run alongside the A7 processor, will give motion apps, like pedometers, much more flexibility by allowing them to run in the background even when the screen is off.

This allows for more accurate readings without the need to turn the phone on or make sure a particular app is running at the time of use. Assuming the hardware is processing in the background, and the app is built to take advantage of the upgrade, things should work just fine whether the screen is on or off. To spearhead the innovation brought on by iOS 7’s multitasking capabilities, Apple plans to offer a number of CoreMotion APIs to give developers an even smoother transition to the 5S.

Iterative improvements, big impact

With Apple’s mobile news announcement officially in the rearview, expect the smart device industry as a whole to react. For developers, that means making apps that take advantage of the new hardware and processing speeds. From unparalleled 64-bit processors to fingerprint scanners — not to mention iOS 7 — it appears major changes are coming to the mobile industry. Staying on top of those changes will play a huge role in how well your app does in the market.