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back to article Google patents swish, swosh, swoosh pattern unlock app swipe

Google has a new, freshly approved patent up its sleeve that should get rid of a few of the gestures involved when you launch your favourite app on your locked phone. Google's unlock to app patent The Chocolate Factory has won a patent for "alternative unlocking patterns", which would let fandroids get into apps like the …

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My first patent....

I'd like to propose an extension to that patent that prevents users from picking overly obvious patterns - such as a C for camera. Or at least pops up a warning "this gesture is a bit flipping obvious, are you sure?"

This would need a database of characters that covered other languages too; but wouldn't be hard to do.

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Coffee/keyboard

THIS IS NOT PATENTABLE

FFS, this is an extension of the unlocking by patterns which was barely patentable in the first place. Or is today April 1st?

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Re: THIS IS NOT PATENTABLE

It's a neat idea, I'll grant you that but patentable...?

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Re: THIS IS NOT PATENTABLE

Seems patent worthy to me, especially compared to some of the stuff that does get patented.

It's a method for making an unlock mechanism do something more than just unlock. It get's you to where you want to be after you unlock.

Like a key lock in a door that when turned a particular way also turns on the lights in your house and puts the kettle on.

While it seems obvious it's more the kind of obvious where once you've seen it doesn't seem that innovative, instead of the kind of obvious where everyone had already thought of it but just not bothered to do it/patent it. Also for a nice change, there is no prior art for this, that I've ever seen anyway.

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Re: THIS IS NOT PATENTABLE

Anyway, cut Google a little slack here. They're not the kind to sick the patent lawyers on people unless they're being blatant or they fired first. Look what they did with the On2 patent pool: let people use the codec freely and mainly kept the patents as a stick to stave off attacks by MPEG-LA.

I suspect Google got this as a defensive measure: to make sure someone like Apple couldn't put one over on them. Perhaps might use it as a bargaining chip to get some other UI techniques loosened.

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Re: THIS IS NOT PATENTABLE

Seems patent worthy to me, especially compared to some of the stuff that does get patented.

In comparison to the stuff that does get patented, everything seems patent worthy.

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Re: THIS IS NOT PATENTABLE

Given the current ongoing patent grief, it's probably more a case of getting the patent in before anyone else does rather than it having much merit in itself. I'm starting to think most patents these days are like this...

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Anonymous Coward

iPhone already have something like this. You can slide directly into camera, without unlocking the phone. Prior art?

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FAIL

iPhone prior art

Didn't the USPTO invalidate the ones used by Apple in its case with Samsung?

If so, I'd fully expect an 'obviousness' challenge to appear from somewhere soon.

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You already can slide directly into the camera function without unlocking the phone on android.

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I beleive in both the case of iOS and Android, these slide into camera functions only work with with the "slide to unlock" type locks i.e. the ones that are to stop accidental button pressing rather than providing any security.

This patent on the other hand is for doing it from a security lock screen.

Another neat spin on this would be to have PIN unlock, with multiple PINs where each one unlocks the phone and launches a different app.

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Anonymous Coward

and on Windows Phone...

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THAT would probably be considered too obvious (like different codes for different users—substitute "apps" for "users"). Alternate "draw to unlock" patterns I can see as not as obvious.

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@Phil W - multiple PINs?

Really? Most people can't be bothered to remember one PIN - that's why there are so many people using 1111, 1234, 6969 and the like from that list of 20 most popular PINs. And you expect people to remember different PINs for different apps?

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Re: @Phil W - multiple PINs?

Most people I know can recall a handful of frequently-used telephone numbers in case they have to use a friend's phone or the pay phone, and in America that's three EXTRA numbers to remember per. I'd find it odd they can recall longer telephone numbers but not one shorter PIN.

BTW, I'm not thinking of home use as an example, but rather business use, where different access codes were used to identify different employees. I think something like that could be considered prior art.

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Re: @Phil W - multiple PINs?

It generally isn't three extra numbers, because unless you're in a huge city there are only a dozen prefixes or so, then four digits.

Anyway, people USED to be able to remember those numbers, but no one I know remembers numbers these days ("in case they have to use a pay phone"? Are you posting from 2005? They don't have any around here anymore)

In fact, when I exchange numbers with people, sometimes they don't even know their OWN number, and I give them mine and they text me so I'll have theirs.

I'm sure a few more numerically inclined (i.e. more geeky) people will think having a dozen PINs to open every app they commonly use automatically is a great thing, but creating features that 1% of people might use is a waste of time.

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Re: @Phil W - multiple PINs?

Exchange numbers aren't so limited anymore even in smaller cities. Cell phones and alternate phone networks (IP phones, cable- and fibre-based phones) have made the concept of the exchange almost moot.

"They don't have any around here anymore" Does the phrase, "my phone's dead" ring a bell? I hear it ALL THE TIME.

And I wasn't thinking like a dozen different PIN numbers, just maybe three or four for the most time-sensitive and frequently-needed ones like camera, the SMS app, and so on.

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Possibly so, but frankly I use BOTH screens (it's just a neater, less crowded screen that pops up when I pick it up, rather than the PIN keyboard directly - simply more pleasing for me to look at) which means I still get "camera" or "missed calls" shortcuts to swipe before the PIN screen pops up...

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ROFL

I hope there is a limit to how many it lets you have. The more possible working passwords there are the less secure the device will get!

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Re: ROFL

That should not be a problem, considering that there are over a hundred thousand patterns. My iPhone only lets me set a four-digit PIN, so they could have ten different unlocking patterns and still be more secure than iPhones… Which are plenty secure enough.

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Re: ROFL

I'm on a six digit pin for my iPhone... so not on mine.

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Re: ROFL

yeah but only 20 will ever be used.

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Re: ROFL

"The more possible working passwords there are the less secure the device will get!"

The more app-specific patterns there are, the more chance someone will be able to randomly start a pattern-started app. There will be no extra chance of them finding the pattern you protected the phone with. Unless one of the apps you added to the list was "Phone Dialler" or "Contacts", I don't see how this makes the device less secure?

Just don't add the camera app if you have some sensitive selfies in the gallery!

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Re: ROFL

Last I checked in Android, once you're IN an app, you can access the Home or Back buttons and get back to the Home Screen. Oops. It WOULD be more prudent to exit from that one app back to lockscreen, but I don't think this is implemented in general in Android yet.

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Re: ROFL

close. I have somthing like that feature - my lockscreen has multiple pages (calendar, camera,..) : only the camera is exposed; gallery access is not possible. If you shoot a photo, it's stored. no way to review it without unlocking (which is ok, IMHO)

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah dead innovative. Is it really a big deal to swipe and choose an icon from the unlocked screen. If anything it will encourage people to pick easier patterns and more ways to unlock means less secure unless locking that way only allows you into that specific app. Hope Apple hurry up with fingerprint sensors which can unlock just by touch.

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Yeah that way you'll know the approximate cash value to anyone who can part you from both your shiny fruity device and your right forefinger. Handy.

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How are fingerprint sensors going to help?

The (rather pointless, I agree with you) idea behind Google's patent is to save that extra fraction of a second after you unlock your phone to choose the app you want.

Assuming Apple puts a fingerprint sensor in the home button, it would only take away the need for the unlock PIN/password/pattern step, you'd still need to select the app.

The equivalent of this patent for a phone that had fingerprint unlock built into the home button would be to allow you to use a different finger to unlock the phone and have it automatically choose a different app. Right thumb is normal unlock, left thumb takes you directly to email, left ring finger calls your wife, middle finger calls your boss...

Let this post be considered proof of obviousness if Apple tries to patent the above :)

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Awesome

So if I know you, I'll be able to hack into your phone with some cyanoacrylate vapour on something you've handled, a copy of Photoshop or GIMP, a PCB etching kit and a packet of gummy bears.

You sure you wouldn't rather use a password or a pattern?

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Re: Awesome

A pattern might be readable from the grease smears on the surface, depending on when the phone is inspected after being unlocked.

As for the password/PIN, again, depending on when it's picked up, examining finger smudges on the glass might give clues to which are the digits in use (including repeats—they'd probably show signs of extra or double smudging). If you can at least identify the digits in use if not the order, you can reduce your guesswork from 10,000-1,000,000 to 24-720.

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Obvious

I thought of this the first time I wanted to take a quick photo while the phone was locked. How can it even come close to being patentable?

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Meh

Re: Obvious

Because it's the USPTO, where you just need a scribble and a vague idea to get the patent treadmill running, if you've got the cash to afford it.

Because of this, there are too many applications to actually process, so things get rubberstamped to leave the lawyers to finance their second mansion.

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Re: Obvious

If it was that obvious, it would have been implemented with the very first implementation of the PIN-swipe system.

And seeing as it wasn't, why didn't you patent it when you thought of it?

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Re: Obvious

Because not everyone patents something the instant they think of it? I, along with probably a million others, wished I could have my VCR use a hard drive instead of tape, so I could have random access to recordings. When I got my first cell phone in 2000 and had to listen to messages one at a time, I wished I could scroll through them on the screen to see what numbers they're from and the time they were left to be able to prioritize which to listen to first - visual voicemail, so I guess I should have patented that as well.

I've probably got a few ideas now that will eventually be patented, but its a long way from thinking "this would be a really useful improvement to this product" to hiring a lawyer and spending a lot of money to file a patent - the only way that makes sense is if you intend to turn that idea into a product (which isn't easy unless you're already in the industry or have a lot of money) or become a patent troll who sells no products at all (which wouldn't be easy if you have a conscience)

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Re: Obvious

"And seeing as it wasn't, why didn't you patent it when you thought of it?"

Because patenting simple ideas is immoral.

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Looking at the drawings .....

..... what fool leaves Navigation running and locks their phone? That is just going to lead to a hot pocket that speaks to you.

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Anonymous Coward

Patent this gesture

V

Effin ridiculous.

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Not daft idea

If the apps open in their own context so you still have to do the normal pattern to access the os proper. Then you can have c for camera, who cares if the phone takes photos as long as it doesn't also display contacts and gallery. My technophobic beloved often wants to look up train times on an app on my phone, if it had its ownsimple pattern she could do so without asking me stupid questions.

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It doesn't look like that they thought of having the special unlock motions only unlock one app (blocking access to home screen or other apps). I have trouble reading patentese, but I couldn't find anything that covered using different patterns for different levels of access, though they sprinkle "may" around so much that it's hard to be certain of anything.

They certainly didn't seem to be thinking much about that while writing the patent, even though that's the most interesting (and probably hardest to implement) use of this....

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