Each year, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launches a brand new set of iOS-based products. Widely regarded as best-in-class products, Apple's iPhone and iPad lines typically represent -- to borrow Apple SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller's phrase -- the gold standard in smartphones and tablet computers. However, even after the teardowns of the next generation iPad and iPhone products are in, there will be one secret that Apple will never reveal about these products.
What others brag about, Apple will never tell
As many of you are aware, most smartphone vendors use processors from third-party companies, chiefly Qualcomm and MediaTek. These companies, understandably proud of their work, will typically reveal many of the key specifications of their chips in order to drum up excitement.
However, Apple – which designs its own chips – is typically extremely quiet about the innovations that it makes in its chips. Sure, it'll tell customers that it's faster, and maybe it will trickle out a few details as it did with the A7 chip, but Apple will probably never do the "deep dive" into what makes the latest-and-greatest A-chips tick.
This is likely for competitive reasons, but it has a cool side-effect
For competitive reasons, Apple is unlikely to ever be very vocal about the internals of the A-series processors that go into its devices. However, this reticence has a very interesting side effect.
While many consumers probably don't care, there are a lot of smartphone enthusiasts out there who do care. Indeed, it was quite a treat for this Fool to see AnandTech do a pretty deep investigation into the architecture of the CPU core inside of the A7 chip. In Anand Shimpi's words: "Apple didn't build a Krait/Silvermont competitor, it built something much closer to Intel's big cores. At the launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple referred to the A7 as being "desktop class" -- it turns out that wasn't an exaggeration."
This isn't information that Apple would have ever given out (though a 1.3 GHz dual-core chip matching quad-core 2.5 GHz high-end quad-core mobile chip did signal that something was up), but the technical community dug deep, and delivered some pretty stunning insight into Apple's technical direction.
More importantly, though, the mystique surrounding Apple's chip efforts only serves to make Apple and its products that much more interesting.
Foolish bottom line
Innovation in any computing device happens across multiple vectors, from the processor to the operating system, and even the industrial design. While some may claim that Apple hasn't released an innovative product since the original iPad in 2010, this is categorically false.
Apple has been innovating rapidly, and in many new ways during the last several years; but as these devices get easier and more seamless to use, Apple's innovations become less obvious. In fact, Apple's Sir Jonathan Ive said it best at the iPhone 5s launch: "We believe technology is at its best, at its most empowering, when it simply disappears."
[Edited to include position disclosure for Intel Corporation.]