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Patent: Android Pattern Unlock to Allow Easy App Shortcuts Too?
When you look at modern Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4, they aim to offer you a lot more functionality from the home screen that simply the ability to unlock the phone. You can see your notifications and jump straight into certain apps with awesome shortcuts. The problem is that if you want these shortcuts, you effectively have to give up on any homescreen security. And it’s generally not recommended to have no password or lock code for your home screen.

A new filing has now made its way through the US Patent Office from the good people at Google and it seems to address this exact concern. The idea is that you’ll still use the pattern unlock security for the homescreen, but you can then use a specific pattern to unlock the phone directly into an app. If you swipe a certain way, you might go straight to the camera app. If you swipe a different way, you could go straight to your Gmail or your Facebook.

When I first heard about this, it sure sounded like it would pose a security risk. After all, if there are more patterns that could potentially unlock the phone, then there are more ways for unauthorized people to gain access to your phone, right? That’s not really true. The wording of the patent can be a little confusing, since it’s in all kinds of legalese, but you can think about this way: you would still unlock your phone using your preferred unlock pattern, but then you’d just add on more notch to one of the remaining eight nodes to directly access one of eight app shortcuts. Given this, your security level should effectively be the same. At least that’s how I understand it.

Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on computer storage media, for receiving, by a computing system that is locked, input from a user that provides an unlocking pattern. During entry of the unlocking pattern, a display of the computing system does not provide a visual indication of an action that will be performed upon the user completing the unlocking pattern. The computing system compares the provided unlocking pattern to a plurality of stored unlocking patterns to determine whether the provided unlocking pattern matches any of the stored unlocking patterns. The stored unlocking patterns are associated with respective actions that are performed upon completion of the respective unlocking patterns. The unlocking patterns are associated with a same level of unlocked security access to the computing system. The computing system responds by unlocking the computing system and performing the action that is associated with the matching unlocking pattern.

I assume that this idea could be easily adapted to the numeric passcode too; you’d just tack on an extra digit at the end to unlock directly to an app.

Of course, seeing how this is Google and it’s “just” a patent, there’s no saying when and if we’ll ever see this feature in a future release of Android. Could it be in Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie? Or will it be one of those cool ideas that never sees the real light of day? Would you want it?

Via Intomobile

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