Since the launch of the iPhone, the 64-bit architecture has been one of the most talked about and the only surprising feature of the iPhone 5s. The general consensus was that Apple is implementing the 64-bit architecture to give them more flexibility to build ARM-based PC and perhaps converge iOS and the OS X systems in the future.
In his piece for CNET, Stephen Shankland provided three reasons why Apple may have implemented the 64-bit architecture in the iPhone 5s.
Stephen Shankland said: “But Apple is smart to lay the foundations for 64-bit mobile computing now, for three reasons. First, large memory capacity is an academic issue in the mobile market today, but it won’t always be. Second, the 64-bit transition happens to come along with other chip changes that are useful immediately. And third, it gives Apple more flexibility to build ARM-based PCs if it chooses to embrace an alternative to Intel chips.”
However, Shankland was quick to point out some shortcomings with his theory, he said: “It’s likely that 64-bit versions of programs will be bulkier than their 32-bit equivalents. With PCs, 64-bit chips are useful to avoid bumping up against 4GB memory limits, which is about where the mainstream market is today. On mobile devices, though, the 4GB limit has yet to arrive. Better 64-bit math is helpful for tasks like scientific simulations, but it’s not a big deal on mobile.”
With that in my mind, we are clearly no closer to knowing why Apple will use a 64-bit architecture in a device that really doesn’t need it.
Even Jony Ive is on record stating that, “It’s not rampant technology for technology’s sake, every single component, every process has been considered and measured that it is truly useful and actually enhances the user’s experience.”
Then what’s up with this 64-bit thingy that is of no use to anyone at the moment and stating that it is for the future, why not throw NFC in while you are at it and say that is for the future too.
But I think you will find the answer in this very insightful piece by Sisir Koppaka of CannyVision. Sisir Koppaka take is that Apple is actually laying the groundwork for the operating system that will power their iTV (Full fledge TV).
Sisir Koppaka posits:
One of the most peculiar announcements yesterday was that iOS 7 was now 64-bit. Apple seems to have left out that announcement at WWDC, possibly to avoid revealing that the A7 chip(and hence the next iPhone) would be 64-bit capable. Many seem to have assumed that this is just Apple preparing for the eventual transition. I think there’s more to it than that.
Apple made a similar full-scale transition to 64-bit on the Mac with Snow Leopard in 2009. At the time, Macs were already at the point of reaching 4GB and above memory capacities. This isn’t the case with the 5S today, or even for the majority of Android phones.
I don’t believe Apple added 64-bit support to iOS 7 and all their apps just to prepare for an eventual transition to 4GB+ memory capacities in future iPhones. I think this was to do with something more impending. Do we know any product category that Apple would be interested in, that would require the use of both iOS and an A-series chip that is 64-bit capable in order to address 4GB+ memory?
Apple TV (the one that is yet to come, not the one that exists).
Sisir Koppaka continues: “Just a few days prior to WWDC this summer, the Xbox One was announced with 8GB memory. The 360 had 512 MB of memory. Earlier in January this year, the PS4 was announced with 8GB of memory. The PS3 had 256MB of system memory. If Apple were to release a competing living room solution now, as Steve Jobs claimed they had figured out, it would definitely have to have around 8GB of memory (if they were interested in addressing big screen console gaming seriously). It would also likely be iOS, and not OS X, that would be needed. I think that is why Apple just announced full-scale hardware and software 64-bit support, not because phones will eventually have 4GB of memory sometime in the future.”
Koppaka also highlights that the new Game Controller Framework in iOS 7 supports his theory that Apple is seriously working on their rumored integrated iTV which will also be a game console.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sold on this idea. This is probably because I have some history with this iTV rumor.
In January of this year, I had the rare opportunity to grill someone with close Apple connection about the company’s rumored iTV ambitions. The answer I received was an emphatic Yes, Apple is indeed pursuing an iTV project. I was told that it will come in two versions a set top box and a full-fledge TV later this year.
I have every reason to trust this person. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to get more information, but this is clearly not for the want of trying. People are very scared of sharing information about the company. Apple has a strick Non Disclosure Agreement policy for their employees, which I respect. My thinking is that I could get away with asking questions about projects with which this individual has no direct or indirect involvement. Hopefully I will get more information in the future.
This is what I wrote at the time:
..Apple is definitely building a full-fledged TV. I was told that Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire piece – All I Want for Christmas Is My Apple TV, nailed it.
The TVs will be coming in two form factors, a new companion device for TV, similar to what Apple is offering at the moment and a full-fledge ultra-thin TV. I was also informed that Apple will be sourcing panels for this TV from Sharp.
I’m not convinced Apple will launch a full-fledge TV this year. However, I won’t rule out this happening in 2014.