Apple has a pair of new patent applications published by the USPTO today (via AppleInsider) which describe a gesture-based unlocking system for iPhone or iPad devices. The system is more sophisticated than existing implementations, however, and includes a number of provisions to make the encryption even harder to frustrate the current methods employed by Android devices.
Apple’s patent describes gesture lock screen user interface elements that can be changed by a user, in terms of both size and position. Changing size makes them easier or harder to hit, and rearranging their position could also frustrate potential hacking attempts by making patterns more unpredictable. The system can also selectively use invisible dots too, which aren’t present on the UI but which work in tandem with visible hit points to track a path.
Other variables that could add to gesture complexity include counting things like the speed of entry, pauses and other timing elements into the code. Entering the same gesture different ways would therefore produce different results, with only one right way to trigger an unlock.
There’s still more, too – the system supports the use of multi-finger input, and has a code strength support meter not unlike those used for text and number based passcodes today. It would rank patterns as high or low based on how long they were, how complex, how random and other factors.
Apple isn’t likely to build this system into any devices in the near future, since it skirts too closely to drawing comparisons to Android, but it does show the Mac maker thinking in-depth about what comes after the alphanumeric password, since conceivably future systems will need much more complex security measures to frustrate hacking attempts.