Apple's gesture-based unlocking tech channels Android's pattern lock screen

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2014
New documents unearthed on Wednesday show Apple was toying with a gesture-based unlock function for its mobile devices some four years after the idea was introduced in the Android operating system. Cupertino's version, however, is arguably far more advanced than even the latest designs from Google.


Source: USPTO


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday published two Apple patent applications (1, 2), both titled "Gesture entry techniques," that together form the basis of a device unlocking feature in which a user draws a pattern on screen with the help of illuminated discs. One patent filing deals with the system as a whole, while the other focuses on entering and setting gestures on a mobile device.

As noted in the documents, a gesture or sequence of gestures may be more effective in securing a mobile device than the usual PIN code or password. To that end, Apple proposes users input a shape or shapes on an interface with selectable graphical elements.

In 2008, Google introduced pattern unlocking in its Android operating system, which accepts gesture input on a grid of dots to unlock a device. The feature has been adapted with so-called "picture passwords" (both on Android and Microsoft's Windows 8) that accept various gestures arranged on a photo, but the basic idea still involves entering a series of shapes onto an onscreen image.



Apple's take is very similar, however there are a few key differences in its approach. According to the patent application, users have the ability to rearrange the lock screen's graphical elements and can change their size to produce higher or lower tolerance gestures. For example, larger discs or dots are associated with higher tolerance gestures as it would be easier to move from one hit point to the next.

To make things more difficult for would-be attackers, the system can implement invisible dots or hit areas in the unlock path. Without prior knowledge of the dots' locations, or that they exist at all, it would be prohibitively difficult to guess a correct unlock gesture.

Additionally, graphical assets may be only one of many factors in gesture entry. Apple notes timing, such as acceleration and deceleration of a finger during entry, can be made part of the functional unlock sequence. Pauses are also recognized.

Further, users can add in one or more additional fingers at any point in a tracing sequence to increase code complexity. Circles, shapes and other inputs are also accepted on a limited basis.



In a unique dynamic addition to the process, hidden lines are proposed that can be enabled (registered as part of the gesture) or disabled depending on an estimation of where the system thinks a user is about to move their finger. For example, hidden lines will stay disabled until a user's path comes close to, or crosses an enabled line. This not only increases system complexity, but also accuracy.

Apple's method implements a gesture strength estimation indicator that moves from "low" to "high" based on factors like gesture length, complexity, unpredictability, entropy or randomness, and others. In some embodiments, the strength indicator can be a represented as a progress bar that fills up in proportion to a gesture's perceived strength.



It is doubtful that Apple would incorporate a pattern-style unlocking method in a future iOS build as the company is currently suing Samsung for infringing on the "slide-to-unlock" feature made popular by the iPhone. In addition, with Touch ID expected to be rolling out in more devices, Apple likely has dwindling interest in spending resources to implement the method.

Apple's gesture entry patent application was first filed for in 2012 and credits Brandon J. Casey, Jake M. Logan. Erik M. Cressall and Stephen H. Cotterill as its inventors.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    irelandireland Posts: 17,785member
    Skipping dots to track patterns is interesting, but this clearly won't see the light of day now that Touch ID has taken priority.
  • Reply 2 of 52
    they use this in their retail stores.
  • Reply 3 of 52
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    ireland wrote: »
    Skipping dots to track patterns is interesting, but this clearly won't see the light of day now that Touch ID has taken priority.

    And this is really meant to block Android from expanding their methods further by patenting around them.
  • Reply 4 of 52
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,385member

    Face recognition plus finger print would be good.  Whatever they use, it should be quick and easy to use.

  • Reply 5 of 52
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,422member
    And this is really meant to block Android from expanding their methods further by patenting around them.
    So not quite the vaunted intent of patents then? Apple intentionally trying to block technological progress by perverting the reason for protection of intellectual property to prevent others from progressing would be sad if it were true. Personally Id be pretty surprised to find that''s the case.

    Impeding progress, an evil intent against the common good, is essentially the exact opposite of the reasons our forefathers gave for patent protection.
  • Reply 6 of 52
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    And this is really meant to block Android from expanding their methods further by patenting around them.
    is that a good use of the patent system?
  • Reply 7 of 52
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

    (something something something about Android not getting what it wants)

     

    YEP.

  • Reply 8 of 52
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,299member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    So not quite the vaunted intent of patents then? Apple intentionally trying to block technological progress by perverting the reason for protection of intellectual property to prevent others from progressing would be sad if it were true. Personally Id be pretty surprised to find that''s the case.

    Impeding progress, an evil intent against the common good, is essentially the exact opposite of the reasons our forefathers gave for patent protection.

    rogifan wrote: »
    is that a good use of the patent system?

    Since when does anyone use a comment from someone as an example of good or ill? It's of no importance that someone here thinks that this is why Apple patented this. Apple obviously investigated this for many years, and patented it, as all companies do, including Google, even though they may decide against using it. It's very possible that they thought it was too complex for most people to use. And despite what the article says, as articles themselves say nothing about the thinking in these companies. Apple may still decide to use this.

    To say that with TouchID, this is finished is foolish. We might as well say that Apple should abandon the password now that they have TouchID, but they required an even stronger password now, than before, where all we needed was a crummy four digit code. We can look to Samsung to see how well that works where you don't need the password.

    It's always possible that Apple might implement this, or part of it in the future, no matter what a writer, who has no connection to the company, thinks. Just keep that in mind.
  • Reply 9 of 52
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    So not quite the vaunted intent of patents then? Apple intentionally trying to block technological progress by perverting the reason for protection of intellectual property to prevent others from progressing would be sad if it were true. Personally Id be pretty surprised to find that''s the case.



    Impeding progress, an evil intent against the common good, is essentially the exact opposite of the reasons our forefathers gave for patent protection.

     

    Great isn't it?

     

    Enjoy.

  • Reply 10 of 52
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by melgross View Post





    To say that with TouchID, this is finished is foolish. We might as well say that Apple should abandon the password now that they have TouchID, but they required an even stronger password now, than before, where all we needed was a crummy four digit code. 

     

     

    Absolutely none of this makes any sense whatsoever.

     

    1. With TouchID, slide to unlock is indeed secondary, if not finished altogether. There is certainly no need for advancement of the concept.

     

    2. Abandon the password? Um no. TouchID relies on the use of a passcode as a backup and always will. There is no sensible way to achieve what they already have. At most, they can hopefully eventually relax the 'passcode after restart' restriction, but thats another topic.

     

    3. It does NOT require more than a 4 digit passcode. Having more than 4 digits is a USER OPTION.

  • Reply 11 of 52
    And this is really meant to block Android from expanding their methods further by patenting around them.

    Are you telling me... and everyone else here that Android can no longer innovate its own technology to move forward in a more advanced manner now that Apple has patented a more advanced version of the technology? Apple's way cannot be the ONLY way to move forward.
  • Reply 12 of 52
    d4njvrzfd4njvrzf Posts: 797member
    Quote:


    ?The feature has been adapted with so-called "picture passwords" (both on Android and Microsoft's Windows 8) that accept various gestures arranged on a photo, but the basic idea still involves entering a series of shapes onto an onscreen image. 


    Are the gestures in picture passwords actually tied to the image, or does the image serve merely as a visual cue for the user who may actually perform arbitrary gestures?

  • Reply 13 of 52
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,422member
    hill60 wrote: »
    Great isn't it?

    Enjoy.

    Unlike you I don't envision Apple being so evil as to clearly act against the public good. On the contrary I think they've actually considered using gesture unlock. Apple recognizes the potential offered by a competitors innovation as much as anyone.
  • Reply 14 of 52
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,922member
    Are you telling me... and everyone else here that Android can no longer innovate its own technology to move forward in a more advanced manner now that Apple has patented a more advanced version of the technology? Apple's way cannot be the ONLY way to move forward.

    True but Apple's way is just the "convergence of design" :)
  • Reply 15 of 52
    jungmark wrote: »
    True but Apple's way is just the "convergence of design" :)

    I am no Android fan, but "convergence of design" sounds like a whiny Android hardware partner much more than it sounds like Google. ????
  • Reply 16 of 52
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    So not quite the vaunted intent of patents then? Apple intentionally trying to block technological progress by perverting the reason for protection of intellectual property to prevent others from progressing would be sad if it were true. Personally Id be pretty surprised to find that''s the case.

    Impeding progress, an evil intent against the common good, is essentially the exact opposite of the reasons our forefathers gave for patent protection.

    It's absolutely the intent of the patent system.

    Property protection, plus innovation, equals increased competition.

    Increased competition drives innovation, invention and commerce.

    I cannot believe you don't understand this.
  • Reply 17 of 52
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,299member
    pmz wrote: »
    Absolutely none of this makes any sense whatsoever.

    1. With TouchID, slide to unlock is indeed secondary, if not finished altogether. There is certainly no need for advancement of the concept.

    2. Abandon the password? Um no. TouchID relies on the use of a passcode as a backup and always will. There is no sensible way to achieve what they already have. At most, they can hopefully eventually relax the 'passcode after restart' restriction, but thats another topic.

    3. It does NOT require more than a 4 digit passcode. Having more than 4 digits is a USER OPTION.

    If you fail to open the phone with your finger, after a number of passes, you need that password. The four digit code is the option, and most won't take it, or even be aware it's there.

    I said they won't abandon the password.

    And, we don't know what Apple will do in the future, are you pretending that you do?
  • Reply 18 of 52
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,422member
    It's absolutely the intent of the patent system.

    Property protection, plus innovation, equals increased competition.

    Increased competition drives innovation, invention and commerce.

    I cannot believe you don't understand this.

    Sorry but I would strongly disagree that one of the purposes to be served by patents is to impede progress, which is all that patenting a process, describing it as broadly as possible, never intending to incorporate it and preventing others from doing so too accomplishes. I cannot believe you can't understand that.

    In addition you keep insisting that a government license to a limited term monopoly is actually property like any other. It is not.
  • Reply 19 of 52
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,299member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Unlike you I don't envision Apple being so evil as to clearly act against the public good. On the contrary I think they've actually considered using gesture unlock. Apple recognizes the potential offered by a competitors innovation as much as anyone.

    That's a nice thing for you to say.
  • Reply 20 of 52
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,299member
    It's absolutely the intent of the patent system.

    Property protection, plus innovation, equals increased competition.

    Increased competition drives innovation, invention and commerce.

    I cannot believe you don't understand this.

    I find that most people understand little of the patent system. There is nothing wrong with the patent system in theory. The problems we're seeing these days is that there are so many patents applied for that the system can't keep up. If certain administrations didn't cut the funding so much, the problem wouldn't be as great as it is now.

    The other problem is that much of the easy stuff has already been invented in many fields. So now, we get the far more complex stuff to be patented. With the underfunded department, examiners are overworked, and so mistakes are more common. I imagine they have some schedule they need to meet. And as patents become more complex, it's easier to make a mistake in the examination, and possibly grant something that shouldn't have been granted.

    In addition, it's far more difficult now to look up a relevant patent than it ever was. So it's easier to grant something that may, in similar form, have already been granted.

    But what people don't understand about the concept of patents is that it's supposed to be for the public good AND the patent owner's good. The two must act in concert. Once one has more power over the other, they system fails. It hasn't failed yet, but it's become somewhat unwieldy.
Sign In or Register to comment.