Google Patents Different Patterns to Unlock Different Apps

If you're an Android user, chances are you're familiar with Google's pattern unlock system that eschews passcodes for a dot pattern you trace on your lock screen. Now it looks like the company could be looking to use different lock screen patterns to offer access to different functions.


Right now, Google will let you access certain features like the camera without unlocking your phone (BlackBerrys and iPhones are also able to do this), but Google has just been granted a patent for function specific unlock codes. So if you're just looking to access the camera, you'll use a different unclock code than if you were trying to unlock your whole phone or just the phone functionality.

Google hasn't mentioned anything about this feature outside of the patent application, so there's no telling if the company plans to incorporate it into future versions of Android. However, the company will really need to make sure users are only offered access in the most limited capacity possible. Earlier this year, a lock screen exploit for the iPhone showed how users could trick the phone into giving them access to the dialer and, from there, gain access to photos, call history, and more. Android currently offers passcode unlock, pattern unlock and face unlock.

Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.

  • Craig Herberg
    For those of us who are security conscious, I can see a real utility for having multiple levels of authorization.
  • Krisk7
    Wait ... so they got a patent to be able to assign different passwords to different access profiles (defined as sets of applications and or functions)? It's said such obvious functions get patents and obstruct progress.
  • blackmancer
    The Patent system is the most corrupt system after the banks. Patenting a pattern, really. What are they gonna patent next, colours?
  • w8gaming
    Well with some tech companies (you know who) starts off by abusing "non-essential patents" and use it as leverage to force competitors to exit the market or to pay a hefty fee as a "tax" while essentially doing nothing, all other tech companies have no choice but to start protecting themselves by pre-emptively getting their own "non-essential patents". Current USA decision to treat "non-essential patents" as more valuable than "essential patents", is unfair, especially when it creates a situation that a patent on a shape is more valuable than an algorithm to accurately convert wireless signal to data. I wouldn't even want to mention "non-essential patents" should be eliminated as this is going to be adversely affect such you-know-who company and USA government will never allow it. So at the very least, "non-essential patents" should have been subjected to the same treatment as "essential patents". So say, if a company A want to trade an "essential patent" with company B for a "non-essential patent", company B cannot say no to it because "non-essential patent" must also be licensed for always equal and reasonable fee, instead of the special treatment it has now that it is completely up to company B to demand any fee they want.
  • scottsiefker
    How can they patent this? I've been using mouse gestures on my PC for years.
  • becherovka
    Googles patents are free to open source software and companies using android. They are more defensive than attacking patents. Protecting itself against lawsuits ie bounce back.