Google has filed a patent application to test new ways of unlocking Android smartphones and tablets, according to the "Patently Apple" blog. These methods include icon and voice input.
(NASDAQ:GOOG) is working on new methods for allowing users to unlock Android
smartphones and tablets built by Android OEMs, a move that could help Samsung
and other OEM partners work around the "slide to unlock" method Apple
(NASDAQ:AAPL) has patented.
as the title of the blog suggests, usually sniffs out Apple patent filings from
the labyrinthine U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Websitesaid Google is
working on ways to let users unlock their phones with their voice and through using
computers, mobile phones and tablets require some form of light authentication
an owner must provide to access the device in the event that it is lost or
stolen. While computers require passwords, phones and tablets tend to ask for
four-digit passcodes or some sort of gesture-based pattern to unlock the
One new method
of secure device unlocking Google is proposing requires a user to drag and drop
an application icon on top of an unlock icon on the touch-screen. This action
then might also launch an application, such as Angry Birds or Gmail.
two-icon dragging example, the motion may also be reversed, with the user
starting at an unlock icon and dragging it to a command-related icon," Patently Apple noted in a Feb. 16 blog
proposed an alternative authentication method where a user enters a passcode,
such as a PIN number, and then an audible password prompt that leverages the
company's voice-recognition technology.
currently uses speech-recognition technology for its Voice Search and Voice
Actions applications, available on most Android handsets.
the patent application in 2010, though the USPTO just published the document
this month. However, Google told eWEEK
these patent filings do not indicate the company will release those methods in
patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up
with," a company spokesperson told eWEEK
"Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services; some
don't. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred
from our patent applications."
Even so, the
secure unlocking methods show Google is testing alternatives to the
slide-to-unlock approach Apple has sued Samsung and Motorola for allegedly
in fact, just secured
an injunction in German court against Motorola for
infringing on the company's slide-to-unlock patent in its Android devices.
The potential new technologies came to light
months after Google launched
its Face Unlock feature in Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich.
uses facial-recognition technology, which works with the front-facing camera on
the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Users scan a picture of their face in the phone's
front-facing camera, then look into that camera every time they want to unlock it.