Google has a patent pending on new smartphone unlock screen


Yesterday's news about Apple's victory in a slide-to-unlock case against Motorola has certainly increased the weight of other, similar cases against Android manufacturers, and has also caused me some worry for Google, Android manufacturers, and smartphone users in general. Without using a "gesture on an unlock image" to access our phones, how can we unlock our touchscreen devices? 

Google seems to have at least some idea, as it was recently revealed that they filed a fairly complex patent for a device unlocking interface. Instead of just unlocking the device, the "Input to Locked Computing Device" patent specifically covers unlock inputs which also execute actions, such as launching the dialer or email app. Usually, this would work by dragging a certain icon or notification into the screen unlock area. HTC actually had a similar system in its Sense 3.0 software where users could drag the unlock ring to an application in order to open it. 

As well as accepting touch inputs, the lockscreen can also accept things like passkeys and even voice commands. Considering that the patent was actually filed well before Siri, this seems fairly innovative. There is also a section in the patent which deals with ring unlock, a feature currently found in Android Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich devices.

If it is granted, the patent would serve as a formidable defense against Apple's slide-to-unlock, even though all of the actions but the voice command still require some sort of gesture. Even so, while having a defense against lawsuits is nice, I really wish these kinds of patents weren't an issue. If Apple didn't sue everyone over slide-to-unlock, then maybe Google and others wouldn't be so worried about grabbing patents to counter it.

Perhaps this patent isn't so bad, though. After all, it might force the likes of Motorola and Samsung to update their devices to Ice Cream Sandwich, if only to be protected from slide-to-unlock.

[USPTO via Engadget]
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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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4 thoughts on “Google has a patent pending on new smartphone unlock screen

  • Avatar of dara

    “how can we unlock the screen?”
    How about no lock app. I use one on my android phone.
    Just one click on home hardware key and voila.
    Suits me way better than sliding!

  • Well, if you need to use security then you have to use some sort of lockscreen. Also, sliding lockscreens are made to prevent you from accidentally unlocking and interacting with your device when it is in your pocket. Basically, the slider is there to make sure you mean to unlock your device. However, most of the time going directly to the homescreen would work as long as security wasnt an issue.

  • Avatar of dara

    That’s what apple made you think.
    Touch screen phones don’t need slide to unlock.
    Millions of touch Symbian phones worked just fine with hardware key plus unlock on screen press.
    It eliminates accidental activation just like slide to unlock, but it’s better imo.

  • That does sound like it would work well, I wonder why others havent implemented it. 


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