Apple's recently released iPhone 5S comes packing an all-new A7 processor. The Apple A7 is a 64-bit, 1.3GHz, ARMv8, dual-core CPU, which makes it twice as fast (according to Apple) as the A6 found in iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C. It's only available with iOS 7, which is the operating system that ships on the iPhone 5S. Apple also claims the chip is capable of twice the graphics power as its last generation, which comes into play for high-end games and other apps that work hard to churn out high quality visual effects.
What's also interesting about the A7 is what it's missing: The processing capabilities of the accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope. These have been moved to a motion coprocessor in the iPhone 5S, where they can now run just as they did before – but using much less battery power.
The A7 might even be a more enticing feature than the home button with its built-in fingerprint scanner (also unique to the iPhone 5S), but you have to see it in action to appreciate the chip. A handful of apps have already been redeveloped to take advantage of the A7's oomph, including the nine on this list.
Indeed, five of the nine apps on this list are free, so you can get a taste of the A7's power without spending any money. The others cost between £1.49 and £4.99. Surprisingly, only two of the apps are games, while several others are what I'll call "creation" apps, or programs used in making art, music, and other creative works. And one is a fitness app that uses the motion coprocessor to replicate an activity tracker. Click the title of any app in this roundup to link through to download it on iTunes.
Even if you don't have an iPhone 5S, you can still read on to learn a little about each app and exactly how it is optimised for the A7 chip. For more Apple smartphone app recommendations, see our series of articles recommending the best news and reading iPhone apps, the best reference apps, productivity apps, utilities, communication apps, iPhone games, and the best hobby apps.
Infinity Blade III is one of the most loved games on the iPhone, and the latest release looks incredible on an iPhone 5S. The game now has full-screen anti-aliasing, full-screen vignettes, high resolution shadows, and environmental reflections. The developers made a few other improvements to cut down on loading times, too.
If you're flirting with buying an expensive activity tracker but aren't yet sold on the concept, try the iPhone app Argus. On the iPhone 5S, it takes advantage of the new M7 motion coprocessor rather than taxing the A7 processor itself. The M7 dramatically reduces the battery strain of counting all your steps throughout the day. Argus also tallies up the number of miles you walk, helps you track your weight, and more.
Count on Autodesk (known for its professional-grade software applications in design and graphic arts) to make use of the A7 processor with an image editing app. Pixlr Express Plus lets you edit images right on your phone but with tools that make the experience comparable to using a desktop application. The number of editing tools is remarkable, and the precision with which they work is astounding. There are simple buttons for whitening teeth and removing red-eye, but the more exciting ones can balance colours or lighten areas of an image that were cast in shadow. Very cool.
With 123D Creature Show, also made by graphics powerhouse Autodesk, you can take 3D models of, well, various creatures and pose them on top of your own photos. The app uses the A7 processor as if it were a chip inside a full desktop workstation rather than a mobile phone to pull off some pretty complex posing and deformation calculations.
The SketchBook Mobile app is a professional-grade paint, drawing, and sketching program also made by Autodesk (the outfit behind the last two apps – Autodesk certainly appear to be serious about jumping on the 5S optimisation bandwagon). SketchBook Mobile is a serious design tool, and with the A7 running behind it on the iPhone 5S, the app now has 2x brush sizes, as well as an 8-megapixel canvas size with two layers.
For two bucks, you can be your own DJ. The djay 2 app (by algoriddim) taps into music stored on your iPhone and then lets you "spin" live and record new songs mixes. The app leverages the A7 chip with a new feature called Harmonic Match for key detection and pitch shift, which helps you create harmonic mash-ups by transposing songs in real-time to match their key with another song.
The same developers behind djay 2 have an app for music video lovers, too, called vjay for iPhone. The vjay app turns your iPhone into a mash-up machine, where you can piece together videos, music, and other media from your handset. Vjay recently got a new UI to match the look of iOS 7, as well as support for HD video playback and special mixing effects that are exclusive to iPhone 5S owners with the A7 processor.
Gameloft's Total Conquest is a social strategy game about the Roman Empire, and it's been updated to make use of the 64-bit power of the A7 for graphics. A fire effect in battle mode has been enhanced, for example, and you'll find some animated semi-transparent clouds that you can move through as you zoom in and out.
A karaoke app updated for Apple’s A7 chip? Yes, that’s exactly what we have here. Not only does Sing! Karaoke have a new interface that's suited for iOS 7, but the app also leverages that A7 chip and its 64-bit architecture with new vocal effects, so you can now make your voice sound as if you're singing in the Sydney Opera House or the Taj Mahal. Note that while the app itself is free, not all the content is. Premium subscriptions for unlimited access to the full song catalogue run across a range of prices, from £1.99 for a week’s subscription, through to £27.99 for a full year.