Apple is investigating a more personalised screen unlock mechanism for the next-generation iPhone, as well as the ability to detect when the user is wearing a hearing aid, two new patent filings suggests.
The first filing, unveiled this week by the US Patent and Trademark Office, describes a screen unlock method where an image that is stored on the device is displayed on the screen along with a number of options which the user then has to identify with the image to authenticate that they are the device’s owner.
Based on the illustration provided, it appears the user may be shown a random photo from contacts, along with a list of names, one of which is will be the person associated with the image on display.
The filing states: “A method comprising: causing an image, that is stored on a computing device, to be displayed by the computing device, wherein the image depicts one or more objects; after the image is displayed, receiving input from a user at the computing device; in response to receiving the input, determining, at the computing device, whether the input matches authentication data associated with the image; and in response to determining that the input matches the authentication data associated with the image, allowing the user to access the computing device; wherein the method is performed by the computing device.”
The method should be a boon to iPhone users who are no doubt a tad frustrated by the archaic and cumbersome passcode system, which an astute thief can easily overcome by examining fingerprints of the screen.
On the flipside, you've got to wonder what’s to stop someone who knows your contacts from exploiting the more ‘personalised’ nature of the new system to access your all your sensitive info.
Still, let’s not be cynical until we see it in action, if it ever does given that most patented features never see the light of day.
Apple’s second filing, however, seems more practical, at least for hearing impaired users.
The iMaker has developed a rather nifty concept for a system that automatically detects a hearing aid and adjusts the volume of the iPhone’s earpiece based on distance sensed by the proximity sensor.
As a result, it would reduce interference, while increasing comfort for the wearer.
“The device selects between a normal audio mode of operation and a hearing aid compatible mode of operation based on both the change in detected distance and the change in detected magnetic field," the filing reads.
Apple is widely tipped to launch two new iPhones this summer: the standard-sized iPhone 5S and a cheaper, smaller model that’s been unofficially designated the iPhone mini.
The tech giant is also rumoured to be working on a larger iPhone dubbed the iPhone Math (also iPhone+) featuring a 4.8-inch screen and launching sometime in Q4.