When Apple unveils its new iPhones on Tuesday, their A13 series chips may feature a new piece of silicon. According to MacRumors, code within an internal build of iOS 13 the website obtained contain references to a new co-processor codenamed “Rose” and “R1.” Like the iPhone’s current ‘Motion’ co-processor, which Apple debut alongside the iPhone 5S in 2013, the new chip will reportedly use sensor data to provide iOS with a picture of the iPhone’s physical location. Where Rose improves on its predecessor is that it will have access to significantly more sensor information. In addition to compass, gyroscope and accelerometer data, MacRumors says the chip will pull information from the iPhone’s inertial measurement unit (IMU), Bluetooth 5.1 chip and the new ultra-wideband (UWB) radio that Apple has reportedly built into all three 2019 models.
Of the three new data sources the chip has access to, the UWB radio is the most interesting. According to a recent leak, the company’s upcoming Tile-like tracking device will also feature the technology. Working in conjunction with a tracking device, UWB allows a phone to narrow the location of a lost item down to about a third of a foot, instead of approximately 16 feet like current Bluetooth LE trackers.
Lost item tracking is a small way to differentiate a phone in 2019, but it’s something that the new iPhones should be able to do significantly better than any other device out in the wild currently. In the future, Rose is likely to play a role in the company’s augmented reality ambitions. We know from multiple recent Bloomberg reports that Apple plans a significant augmented reality push starting with the new iPad Pro. Rose’s role in that push is made clear by code that suggests the chip will enhance one aspect of ARKit’s functionality. The usual caveats apply here: just because some internal code suggests a feature is possible doesn’t mean we’ll see Apple announce it at tomorrow’s iPhone launch event. That said, we won’t have to wait long to find out what the company’s new A13 chip can do.