Apple Files Patent To Detect ‘Unauthorized’ iOS Device Use


This month, an Apple patent application that has been made public indicates that the company is looking to identify “unauthorized” users of iOS devices. The patent details how some activities on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch could be identified as “suspicious behaviour” leading to unauthorized device use.

Specifically Apple details how facial, voice, or even a heartbeat could act as recognition to confirm whether a user has authorization to use an iDevice. If an unauthorized user is detected, the iDevice could limit access to the trespasser while at the same time gathering information on the trespasser such as photos, voice recording, and location.

Another set of methods that could be used by Apple to prevent unauthorized device use is flagging actions as jailbreaking, unlocking, or SIM card removal. In other words, if one of these unauthorized actions occurs, the device can initiative a lock-down mode and begin to record information about the unauthorized access, as detailed previously.

While the unauthorized user detection methods have merit, the thought of your iPhone taking a photo of an unauthorized user has sparked discussion about just how much control should Apple have over your iDevice.

If the device can record information about an unauthorized user, what stops the device from taking pictures of the intended, authorized user! Some people have found the idea to be Orwellian, giving Apple the means to retaliate when iDevices are not being used in ways that Apple wants.

On the other hand, allowing Apple to exert some amount of control over an iDevice can also be viewed as an additional security precaution. Such control can provide corporate clients additional reassurance about the security of iDevices and also ensure that consumers who use such applications as online banking are safe. The application further details methods for finding lost or stolen iDevices.

Now it is important to note that this is a patent application and only a patent application. Apple files many applications each year and the majority never make it to shipping products. We all know that Apple does take steps to temporarily prevent users from jailbreaking, such as through software updates, but the company has never employed more invasive methods to completely prevent jailbreaking, something that Apple could very likely accomplish.

While Apple has shown no major effort in taking over user devices, if they did, the community backlash would be massive.

Is this type of iDevice control by Apple a good thing for users or bad? What do you think?



  • jwp

    ummm…isn’t it possible that this is actually for consumers?? perhaps it’s another step for the MobileMe ‘Where’s my iPhone?” function. i’d love the ability to detect where my phone is and remote wipe it.

  • Me

    They have no right! I paid money to purchase the iPhone therefor I can do whatever I want with it when it comes to jailbreaking.

  • Mac

    I agree with it detecting unauthorized users but there should be a fail safe like a password in case it trys to shut the real owner out but on the other hand “me” (the person above) is right you paid for it and if you bought it unlocked you should be able to do anything thing you want with it. if you bought it on contract you should still be able to do what ever you want with it as long as it doesnt violate your contract with you service provider

  • bob marley

    This is the dumbest idea i have ever heard. If this patent ever came into affect, i would stop buying apple products

  • munchies

    AHAHAHAH!! that was funny !

  • iPhone4crazy

    You’re very ignorant if you believe that. That’s like saying I bought a DVD so I can copy it if I want. Like it or not it’s technically illegal in Canada. In one sense You’re right, as long as you don’t use the jailbreak to pirate software. I jailbroke mine to use FaceTime over 3G when apple announces it is allowing that legit, I will restore. Now apple has taken away privileges in the past I don’t agree with such as not being able to downgrade, but since jailbreaking is legal in the US I’m sure Apple won’t risk the lawsuits for locking a device for changing a carrier name. This is targerted at software pirates. As for the anti theft precautions, I welcome them. If I can see the theif in a picture it may help me identify him/her so police action can be taken to recover my stolen iPhone. It is an expensive phone and I would certainly want it back if I can recover it. I don’t want to be spending $800 everytime someone took a liking to my shiny iPhone 4. I also like iLocalis’ (cydia app) idea of telling me the phone number of the theif if he/she puts in another sim card.

  • Matt

    Well it’s dressed up nicely to look like it’s good for users, but obviously we will never see/know what happens behind the curtains. I don’t think people should jump on this one until Apple actually decides to implement this.

  • iPhone4crazy

    My prediction of next article on “Facebook 3.2.2 Released”

  • Anonymous

    Until it’s explicitly illegal in the US and Canada to unlock phones Apple won’t put this into place. They can still void warranties, as the warranty is something under Apple’s control, but that’s really about it.

  • coookie eater

    You’re obviously not a well educated person who thinks that large corporations such as Apple really cares about you. They do what is in their best interests and not yours. I suggest you read a little and learn about it. I don’t worry about my iphone getting stolen; are you stupid or something?

  • cookie eater

    “I don’t want to be spending $800 everytime someone took a liking to my shiny iPhone 4.” Where the hell do you live? Compton? No, you don’t. When you see someone and they compliment your phone do you automatically think they are going to steal it or something? I think that you may have some mental health problems.

  • Get a new brain

  • BC Poop Launcher

    Go FACK urself JOB.

  • Also to detect, and limit access to jailbroken devices? Lol

  • Nick

    The day they start voiding warranties when you jailbreak is the day I get a competing phone from another company. There’s just too many benefits to jailbreaking to not do it, and it’s not uncommon to have to do a warranty return

  • iPhone4crazy

    First of all I don’t live in Hicksville like you where everyone in town is related. And for your information in the past three years I have had three phones stolen. Two samsung flip phones and a nokia flip phone. As a matter of fact one of my samsungs was stolen twice. After I recovered it the first time it was taken again. And that’s not counting the 2 other samsung and 1 other lg I had break. You can say I don’t have good luck with phones. But I plan on keeping my iPhone 4 a while. So I have a bit of paranoia when people are around my phone. This wall of defense will ease my mind a little. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. So tell me smart guy, how dies apple benefit from getting a picture or voice recording of an unauthorized user? Are you dumb?

  • Vigan

    Jailbreaking is legal now. What’s it their business. Assholes

  • Anonymous

    No offence but how does one lose 3 cellphones in three years? It would appear (on the surface at least) you’re not overly aware of your surroundings or your personal articles. After being bit once I’d of thought one would have learned their lesson. Apparently not in your case……………

  • Mitchell R.

    I think if they start controlling how you use their devices, they’ll lose so much more than what they do when people jailbreak they’re phones, etc. People considering purchasing an iDevice will not only weigh the hefty price but also these new restrictions. I think people will use that as another excuse, telling themselves that spending all this money on a ipod or iphone is a bad decision. Also, if Apple is allowed to do this, soon every laptop company, and maybe even gaming consoles will be taking our pictures and information to make sure we are using their products the way they want us to. This could get pretty crazy.

  • iPhone4crazy

    So being mugged was my fault I suppose? That was one time anyway. I have stories but I will not bore you, either way they were not lost but forcibly taken. I am careful with my property. I have learned s*it happens and if I can help recover my phone I will take that option. So thanks Apple for keeping my phone mine, and no one elses.

  • I Agree lol. I lost my phone once when i was really young ( at this time it was a shitty flip phone ) but ever since im like paranoid, always checking my pockets when moving from place to place lol.
    two major reasons. 1. you lost your communication ( yes you can always find others ) 2. who knows if some one is going to find it, use your contacts, or rack up your bill with LD calls.

  • Extra security is awesome. i just hope they use it for us, and not against us.
    Like Google… lol

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. Apple, when you let me do what _I_ want with my iPhone not what you want, is the day I’ll stop jailbreaking my phone. Until then I’ll continue to do it. Void my warranty because of it? Off to Android I go; granted, I’m pretty sure that for my next generation of phone, I’m going to Android regardless…

  • rvtradepro

    brutal…this would cause me to give serious though to switching to Android based phone. I like apple products, but not to the point of becoming enslaved.

    Seriously Apple – “let my people go!”

  • Anonymous

    LOL, and then the jailbreak community finds a way around this. HA, pwned.

  • Anonymous

    It’s legal, but they can still try to detect it and void your warranty because of it. There’s no way that a law can force them to assure your device if you’re not using it according to the terms of the warranty.

  • Google has been playing a sneaky game here n there too. Who knows what
    google will do in the future.

    Androids do look pretty nice, I have used a few of them, but some how
    they still seem a little sluggish. I wonder if google will polish Them
    up more as time goes on

  • I have no doubt the dev teams would, but I’m thinking along the lines
    of your device being locked out from iTunes. No more syncing, backing
    up, restoring, because the security of the phone is “compromised” and
    they may say, to stop the risk of spreading what security hole may be
    there, we stop the connection to iTunes to prevent your account from
    getting hacked or what ever lol. You never know

  • Skull

    Contrary to the majority’s opinion, I like this patent 🙂

    I really doubt they wouldstallk their users, that would have a huge backlash. If they stalk jailbreakers, that would have a huge backlash too.. Both cases I would leave for android.

    What I find more realistic is them adding this as a security feature, say, part of MobileMe or something. This would have huge benefits to everyone and not just corporate clients. It would be almost like insurance that no one will ever steal your phone, and iPhone would probably get a rep for busting thieves. It’s rep by itself would probably deter potential thieves from stealing iPhones…

    Or maybe jobs is actually going nuts and want to control our minds xD

    Who knows, but I prefer the first option.

  • Sophielez

    Leave us alone!!!! We bought the phone big bucks if you want to control everything you should give them away, then it would still be your property. But now it’s mine so get a life!

  • Noahattic

    i have been using android device for 1 year. i have to say freedom on android is not something you have to pray on iPhone. i felt like this is my own device, i can do whatever i want with it. and no one would give me a SH*T about it. i like it so much. i’m hoping android 3.0 will be a big step forward and slap apple’s face! teach them how to treat their customers.

  • That One Guy.

    WTF…. Most idiotic idea ever I mean hell years ago when jail breaking first started apple stole how many created apps and multitasking and etc from home brewers then pass it off years later as if they created the concept when it was done along time ago and now they want to do this retarded crap ? I mean seriously apple stole HOW MANY APPS created by home brewers years ago and pass it off as their own hell the home brewers are creating free apps that apple steals and call their own…………………….

  • well spoken! It’s about time to wake up from apple controlling juice!!

  • That’s one scary thought!! Isn’t it? The good thing is Android is another alternative to fall back on.

  • Lol yea it is. I must admit I have eye balled the droid a few times,
    but my last couple of hands on experiences haven’t been the best.
    First thing that always kills me is it seems sluggish compared to my
    I’m not one of those people “because I own an iPhone, it’s the best”
    droid has wow’d me on the larger screen, but the basics of the unit
    didn’t measure up in my mind.