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Google Granted Patent for App-Launching Pattern Unlock Feature

Google Unlock Patent

If Google ever puts its newly appointed patent into affect, folks who opt for a more secure way to unlock their device may not have to give up those wonderful lockscreen app shortcuts. The idea is super simple – a user can create custom unlock patterns for their lockscreen, and each of the custom patterns can open a different app (camera, music, email, etc.). Smart idea, right? 

A feature like this would be very easy for Google to work into a new version of Android, so our fingers are crossed that this feature can come to fruition sometime in the future for everyone.

Keep it up, Google.

Via: Engadget | USPTO

  • Ry.D

    That’s a nexus one baby!! I’ve still got mine.

  • Jeremy

    People, please use numeric lockscreens instead of patterns. Patterns leave a trace outline when you unlock them, and it is VERY easy for anyone around you to see and replicate your pattern. I do it all the time to my friends and cousins to prove the point.

    Here’s a feasible scenario: You’re on a crowded subway train and a thief sees you unlock your phone and notices your pattern. Now the thief knows that if he follows you to your stop and mugs you while you’re walking and texting, he will be able to access your phone, change the security settings, uninstall lookout mobile, phish around for a while and then sell your phone when he gets tired of it. In that same scenario with a numeric password, the thief would see that your phone is protected and that he isn’t quite sure that he can break it, discouraging him from committing a felony. Use numeric passwords – the longer the better – and enter the code quickly when other people can see your screen.

  • Higher_Ground

    This sounds awesome. I wonder if you could use it like an admin account with one unlock and a regular account with another. Could have the pattern set up sequentially to open different apps.

  • verbal_judo2

    Just sayin… But it looks to me from the diagram that it is not a matter of remembering various unlock combinations for different apps.

    Rather, its like you use your normal unlock pattern and once it is completed you leave your finger down and can select a shortcut app by lifting your finger off from the app icon.

    seems simpler than remembering different unlock patterns. I got enough stuff to remember :).

  • cnlson
  • Mason Lammers

    Wouldn’t this just decrease the security of your lock screen? More combos to unlock your phone increases the chance someone would be able to break your security making the security obsolete. Maybe this has been said, I just jumped on for a comment while on the jon.

    • cnlson

      in most implementations your initial pattern stays the same its the end that changes each time so it would tend to make it more secure if anything. because it’s only partially the same each time.

      • Mason Lammers

        Touché. That I was not aware of but it makes sense. I should have read further.

      • Mason Lammers

        Touche brother.


    Except only dumb people use pattern unlock. It’s the easiest security measure to break through.

    • prestone1

      Yeah, so easy the FBI couldn’t figure it out…


        O_o not sure what you’re talking about, but I’ve personally seen what law enforcement use; They use a device that takes a system dump of your phone. They don’t even have to crack your lock pattern. What I was referring to, is that if you look at someone’s phone when it’s off, you can see a fingerprint trace of their pattern most of the time. People forget to wipe the oil off their screen, and the fingerprint pattern stays on the screen.

        • cnlson

          not sure what phone you have but the s3 can encrypt the device and the sd card(it’s under security). that is why for what i’m guessing prestone1 is talking about the FBI went to the judge to compel the man to decrypt it. myself, i would take the contempt charge myself.

        • prestone1
  • Michael

    Is that the Nexus Uno in the drawings?

  • joejoe5709

    Eh… Shortcuts on the lockscreen with a single password for the whole phone seems to work fine. The dev community has this concept down pretty well. I bet they’re just grabbing this patent for the heck of it.

    • CapnShiner

      I’m pretty sure that patent was filed years ago, before the dev community or OEMs had anything like it. As someone else pointed out, just be glad it’s Google and not Apple who got the patent.

  • Mike

    Oh how I miss the Nexus One

  • duke69111

    I wonder when they filed for this. That looks like the g1 or the first nexus.

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    We need a fingerprint scannner combined with active display. Security and still having something similar to swipe to unlock.

    • CapnShiner

      I’ve wondered myself why nobody has integrated a fingerprint scanner into a phone. Some laptops have them and they seem small enough. I just don’t know how big the internal part is.

      • zurginator

        Atrix had one. Apparently it wasn’t worth the cost.

        • Daeshaun Griffiths

          I was thinking something under the display or a certain section of it could read your print and then continue to open the phone

  • Stephen Cox

    Does this even warrant a patent?

    I wish software patents would die.

    • sirmeili

      While it may not “warrant” a patent, at least Google patented it instead of Apple. Apple would prevent anyone else from using it. Generally Google does not actively sue for patent infringement.

      I agree about software patents though. They are useless and I personally believe they inhibit innovation.

    • CapnShiner

      You must not be a software developer (in the spirit of transparency, neither am I). Do you have any idea how much time and effort goes into developing good software? If you were to spend months developing software that included a new concept nobody else had and you needed a return on your investment to avoid bankruptcy, wouldn’t you want to protect that investment? Would you want some other developer to copy your idea and release a competing product, which would essentially take money out of your pocket?

      Software patents exist for a reason. Sure, they can be abused. However, they are necessary to ensure that developers get rightfully compensated for their work.

      • michael arazan

        They are abused by corporations and their lofty goals of having every single dollar in the world

      • Stephen Cox

        Actually, I am a software developer, but mostly with server software.

        I should clarify that I don’t have a problem with the idea of software patents, but I do with their current implementation and how they end up getting used to slap everyone else around and try to stifle innovation instead of helping encourage it.

        Most things they patent are not novel enough to warrant the patent, and I believe this is one of those non-novel things. Just like the swipe to unlock or the shopping cart.

  • Jason Kahn

    This would get so confusing, so fast you’d use it once or twice to show off to people, then never use it again.

  • Mike Aurin

    What’s the point of memorizing 4 different patterns? Unlock using one and jump to one of those apps that are PROBABLY in your dock.

  • Nicholassss

    I was just thinking about this a few weeks ago.

  • JonathonFlores

    Look at the time!! 11:03!! 3 = Half Life 3 confirmed!

  • Greyhame


    • JonathonFlores


  • Tim242

    I am sure that unlocking and opening the app would be much less cumbersome. I use gestures on Nova Prime to open up apps like camera, gallery, clock, and so forth. The apps that aren’t on my homescreen, I have in the app drawer, two finger swipe down. I hide the appa that I use gestures for, and the ones on my home screen. Very easy one screen access to everything.

  • MichaelFranz

    the real talk with this is…….look at that OG Nexus!!! trackball and all

  • John Jenness

    They need to update their “mock-up” phone…what is that…a Nexus One?

    • Trueblue711

      If the patent was finally granted, it makes sense that it was originally filed when the Nexus One was out.

    • CapnShiner

      I was going to say something about that. The mock-up image kind of dates the patent filing. I’m sure the official records show when this was filed but I’m too lazy to look it up. By the way, I think it serves as an example of just how slow our patent system is.

      • michael arazan

        I’m surprised our patent system read the patent given the general obscure unspecified patents apple has been allowed to have

  • dannyWHITE

    That’s a lot of squiggly lines to remember!

    • w

      They could have it where you slide to the last dot of your unlock pattern and then the options for each app could show up as icons instead of dots.

      • DJ SPY

        This actually is a pretty good idea. Unlock the phone using your pattern and without letting go slide to the app you want, let go and it’ll take you to it.

  • ToddAwesome

    Pattern unlock? Pfft, what are we, secret agents? Swipe to unlock, FTW!

    • Tim242

      Sure, if you want your life available to any and every person.

      • Jeff C

        but why would any and every person have my phone?

        • Tim242

          I keep my phone with me at all times. However, I like having the comfort of knowing that if it were stolen, or I leave it on table in my house while taking a shower, it is safe from prying eyes.

          • ToddAwesome

            The NSA says hi!

          • Tim242

            I do not agree with what they do. However, they are not going to exploit my life from what they have. Not to mention, they have no access to files and pictures stored locally on my phone

          • Tyler Durden

            Too bad they can’t track somebody who’s not real.

          • Nicholassss

            HAve you ever looked at your screen after you make a call? all that face grease? its super easy to figure out peoples pattern locks.

            I snag my co workers phones and switch their patterns all the time.

          • Tim242

            I’ve never seen my pattern on my screen. But, my pattern still couldn’t be figured out, even if it’s track were there. Don’t make them too simple.

          • Eric

            Wait who put’s their phone up to their face? Also I wipe my screen off all the time…

          • Higher_Ground

            and if there are multiple patterns, it just might make it harder to guess. But yeah, it’s pretty easy to see most patterns if you look hard enough.

      • ToddAwesome

        It already is.

      • BTLS

        I agree… that’s why I love the timed lock feature in android. Doesn’t require you to unlock every time, but if left somewhere chances are it’ll lock before anyone else can get in.

    • Anumous Vipr 76

      I agree, I don’t have passwords on any of my devices except my linux computer because I had to.

  • sant0s
    • ßen Murphy

      But there’s no patent. That makes a huge difference. .

  • prestone1

    probability of guessing patterns just went up

    • T4rd

      Yup, but if you make them complex enough, it should negate it for the most part. But that also makes it more annoying to unlock.

      • michael arazan

        Can just see an unlock system where you swipe your phone to unlock, it sends a coded signal to your paired up specific smartwatch and will unlock if you are wearing it, all simultaneously. To give security and speediness

    • cnlson

      i don’t see how. each time your pattern will change unless you only use the same app everytime you unlock. for me, i unlocked to gmail, chrome, feedly, xda app, messaging. each time a different pattern and no way to tell whats the start or finish.

      • prestone1

        user creates custom patternS (plural), meaning there is more than one pattern to guess correct, aka there is increased probability of unlocking the phone through one of the many different patterns.

        • cnlson

          no, user creates a pattern, and at the end swipes to the icon they want to open. so say you make a square for your pattern. that is always the pattern, the end you swipe to any other icon to launch the app

  • Tyler Durden

    To me it’s much easier to unlock and launch.

    • Tim242

      Yeah, even lock screen widgets make no sense to me

      • Eddie R

        most used and quickest widget for me is camera on my gnex. i have the camera app enabled within the nav ring, and even still it’s quicker from load to click straight from the lockscreen widget with one swipe to the left.

    • schlanz

      I like the quick camera with touchwiz, just touch the lockscreen while you turn your device into landscape mode.

      I think this is a great option for people who feel they need some type of security for their phone.

  • infogulch

    I thought of this all the way back with my N1 on 2.1. Might even have an issue filed to cyanogenmod about it.

  • jh123416


  • Kevin

    not sure i’d really want 4 or 5 patterns to remember

  • stabone

    They’re using the Nexus One and Gingerbread stylings for the patent?

    • MikeCiggy

      Just so you guys realize this was probably applied for years ago.

      • Trevor

        I was thinking that too. I wonder what the average span of time is for patents like these to be officially granted to a person/company.

  • Ryan Hansele

    Wondering If Apple will have this with their new version of iOS next year then sue and say they had it first lol

    • Tyler Durden

      Don’t give Ron any ideas now

    • DroidFTW

      Apple steals good ideas, not bad ones. This one sucks.

      • Adam Truelove

        Android users are used to being able to do things faster and easier with shortcuts and widgets. Just because iOS users are used to their crippled phones doesn’t mean Android features are bad.

      • Because this is Android, you can more than likely turn it off in the settings!

        • michael arazan

          Android is for everyone, and everyone does things differently.


      apple already had this google is just copying AGAIN

  • ToddAwesome

    But…how will this work with face unlock? The world wants to know!

    • Respen

      Make different faces to open different apps.

      Then the rest of us can laugh while people stick their tongues out at their phone.

      • ToddAwesome

        Quick, patent that!

      • joejoe5709

        Ok that’s hilarious.

    • Tyler Bowden

      Duck face to launch the camera app.