Protecting your smartphone or tablet with a PIN, a fingerprint scan and individual passwords for apps is sound security practice, but it can get a little excessive if you're usually in a safe environment, like home or work. Apple's future products may alleviate this strain, as a patent for which the company filed on Tuesday details technology to differentiate security levels based on user location.
As broken down by AppleInsider, the proposed technology would examine things like Wi-Fi connectivity, location and even proximity to other phones in order to determine where a user is located, and how much security his or her device necessitates. The patent application proposes that a device would need two independent location confirmations (like a known Wi-Fi network and a GPS location) before adapting to a given setting.
The logic behind variable location-based security is simple enough. If you're checking Facebook sitting on your couch, unlocking your phone with a complicated password is a waste of a few precious seconds. If someone snatches your phone while out shopping, you may well be grateful for the PIN and application-specific passwords.
If Apple develops the technology described in the patent application, users would be able to set customized security parameters for different locations. If users want to lock down the phone anywhere and everywhere, that would be their prerogative, as would leaving it wide open under any circumstances.
Apple could use location-based technology for more than just security. Imagine, for example, your tablet displaying Netflix on your home screen in your apartment, a suite of office software at your job and Yelp while you're out and about. A phone or tablet could even favor and lock out certain apps when connected to a car, or other Bluetooth devices.
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.