Proving that Samsung isn’t the only one that can take shots at its rivals, Apple has released a new TV spot simply titled “Powerful”. And in the process of showing the things you can do with an iPhone, it touches on one of the Galaxy S5‘s most advertised features: the heart rate monitor.
The 90-second video extols the iPhone 5s features, some of which come out of the box, like slo mo video recording. Others, however, are features you can achieve through apps or accessories, giving credence to the almost cliché expression “there’s an app for that”. You have apps and tools for enhancing your musical jamming sessions, control lights from a distance, play games on your TV, feel like a camera man, or even launch rockets into the atmosphere. One feature, however, that might catch some people’s attention is the heart rate monitor, the very same feature that Samsung is boasting in its latest flagship.
What makes the iPhone 5s’ version different is that the heart rate monitor comes purely via software. The iPhone 5s doesn’t have a hardware monitor sensor but the app, called Instant Heart Rate, uses the same principles. The app uses the device’s camera to try to discern the heart rate by monitoring the flow of blood cells on a finger. Such a method works better when light is shone on the right area, which is why the app recommends using it on a more recent iPhone model that has n LED flash. What Apple is saying, in effect, is that the iPhone 5s doesn’t need any hardware gimmick to implement a heart rate monitor the way that Samsung does.
Apple’s message is clear and explicit. You already have a powerful device right in your hands already, which, at least for Apple, is the iPhone. The ad might even give Android app developers some ideas, but it does make one wonder about the accuracy of such software-based implementations versus what is supposedly more dedicated hardware. It also calls into question the practicality and wisdom in the growing amount of sensors on our mobile devices, a trend that might not be slowing down any time soon.