The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published two Apple patent applications, both titled “Gesture entry techniques”, which have revealed that Android’s pattern lock screen uses a gesture-based unlocking technology Apple was toying with almost four years back. According to AppleInsider however, Apple’s tech is arguably far more advanced than even the latest designs from Google.
The two patent filings together form the basis of a device unlocking feature in which a user draws a pattern on screen with the help of illuminated discs. The documents note that a gesture or sequence of gestures may be more effective in securing a mobile device than the usual PIN code or password. Google introduced pattern unlocking in its Android operating system in 2008, which accepts gesture input on a grid of dots to unlock a device.
“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.”
It is very unlikely that Apple would incorporate this unlocking method in a future iOS build as the company is already suing Samsung for infringing on the “slide-to-unlock” feature, that was made famous by the iPhone.