Apple’s gone all in with its Touch ID tech in the iPhone 5s (and soon, the iPhone 6), but a new Apple patent filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) suggests that Cupertino’s not done with its password and passcode unlocking methods.
The new patent is titled “Location-Sensitive Security Levels And Setting Profiles Based on Detected Location,” and, despite its long name, actually does one simple thing: it helps iPhone users who’ve tired of putting in their password and passcode each time they seek to unlock their iPhone. As the name suggests, the patent will identify what network a user is on (whether known or unknown) and erect security barriers on unknown networks while easing the process on known networks. If, for example, an iPhone user is on his or her home network or job network (and has placed such information into the iPhone), then the individual won’t have to enter a password or passcode to unlock his or her device.
If, however, an individual leaves a known network and enters a network for which no information has been placed into the iPhone, Apple will use GPS and Wi-Fi to determine the individual’s new location and place strong security measures within the web browsing experience. In other words, you’ll have to enter your passcode and password in places (such as the airport) that lie outside of your known networks. According to Apple’s patent, “If the available aspects match the previously defined location context, device behavior, configurations, or settings on a mobile device can be modified.”
This automatic unlocking patent, like many Apple patents, may never see the light of day. At the same time, however, automatic unlocking finds much approval among iPhone users who are tired of locking themselves out of their devices because they forget their password while at home or in a familiar environment. Keep in mind though, that the automatic unlocking feature still leaves forgotten password events unresolved.
Google debuted a personal unlock feature at Google I/O 2014 that resembles Apple’s newly-filed patent. Perhaps Apple filed this new patent now so as to not be left behind in another component of the smartphone race.