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Newest Google Patent Application Secures Your Phone Depending on Where You Are

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Security and privacy seem to be at a minimum these days, especially in the digital world. The latest patent filed by Google for Android is an interesting one that looks to keep your phone safe depending on where you are. Motorola might be using NFC tags to “Skip” lockscreen pin and pattern codes, but Google wants to use location instead. 

There are times when you want the security of a pin or pattern on your device and then other times when you just want to swipe to unlock. Google’s new patent will give your device the ability to detect where it is and change the security accordingly. If you go out for a night on the town, you might have to use your pattern, but around the safety of your house, you can just swipe. It sounds simple, but if this gets implemented into Android’s base code in the future, it could be a very smart ability.

Via: Engadget

  • JMaio

    So they’re taking ideas from CyanogenMod? I am already able to do this with profiles in CM 10.2, and it’s very useful, but come on Google, at least make it open-source.

  • Derek Jones

    I hope this feature gets baked into Android. I can’t get the customization to work with Tasker or Llama. Tasker has only worked when it felt like working and Llama has never worked.

  • Roger W Turner

    The only reason I use a PIN is to stop it coming alive in my pocket.

  • j¤n Gårrëtt [5,000+]

    its pretty cleaver how Google & Apple patent ideas from apps in their stores–that’s what I would do.

  • Mark

    Sweet. Now when someone steals your phone, they can use it to find where you live and access everything without even having to hack it if they get close enough. Well played.

    • j¤n Gårrëtt [5,000+]

      stupid comment.

  • Roman Gonzalez

    Toopher has been doing this for over a year, but you don’t even have to put in a pin at home or wherever you normally are. It automates the authentication so you don’t have to take your phone out, which is the really frustrating thing about things like Google Authenticator, Duo, etc.

    • j¤n Gårrëtt [5,000+]

      for a year but only has 6 reviews out of 1,000+ installs? sounds suspect to me. thanks for sharing though.

  • sagisarius

    This seems like it would be a great feature for a tablet. Mine sits on the Coffee table 99% of the time… it’s only when I take it somewhere outside my house that I want it to have an unlock pattern.

  • AJ McKay

    Unlock with Wifi does this exceptionally well. But built in would be nice.

    • j¤n Gårrëtt [5,000+]

      90 5 stars and 51 1 stars. hmm.

    • Drome

      no support for pattern unlock =

  • Adam Truelove

    Ok, this is great. I’d love to just use slide to unlock at home and work, but a pin everywhere else.


    as a teacher, i always have my sgs4 on lockdown while at school, but the minute i get home, i go through the tedius task of going back to swipe. doesnt take but 10 seconds, but would be very handy to have this feature built in!

    • Chris w.

      How bad is that on your battery life?

      • BGRUGGER

        Switching the type of security? None. Maybe im misunderstanding your question. I consider myself a heavy user and at 29% just over 15hrs off charger

    • Skylar Sutton

      Do yourself a favor and spend $5 on Tasker + SecureSettings. I do something very similar but I have it automated. It just “happens” when I walk in the door.

      • BGRUGGER

        I used tasker with my galaxy nexus, but not yet wanting to root the sgs4. too good of performance so far…but i see your point!

  • digigenocide

    I already do this with Tasker. I bought a cheap blue tooth key chain and set Tasker to lock my phone when it’s more than 4 ft from my car keys.

  • Jaron Wheeler

    I would love to see this happen in the next update or whatever.

  • Jeff

    I wanted to say that I already do this with Tasker + Secure Settings, but that has already been said. I don’t bother with the GPS or Cell locations. I have it set to remove security when connected to home or work Wi-Fi.

    I also remove security when connected to the Bluetooth in my car stereo. So that is unique to what Google is trying to patent. So maybe I should patent that before Google does :-).

    • CoreRooted

      Tasker + Secure Settings require root and a paid app. For the novice user they are not going to be running any of that. This will be baked into the OS. Big difference.

  • Bryan

    This would be very welcome to me. I don’t have any lockscreens set because I work from home and rarely leave the house to need a lockscreen. But the times I do, it would be nice to turn it on automatically for me.

    And I don’t want to have to install tasker and root to get the same functionality. This would be built in and simple.

  • jeff

    I thought I wild be clever and say that I already do this with Tasked, but that had already been said.

    I use connected to my home and work WiFi to remove security.
    I also remove security when connected to my cars Bluetooth. I may patent that one before Google gets a hold of that idea.

  • Caleb Loop

    I’ve been asking for this for ages. Tried the apps but they never seem to work right all the time.

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    I like the idea, i guess the theme is security without knowing. maybe the scanner is better because thats everywhere. thats what moto is gunna do with the dimple.

  • chris420o

    This…just makes way to much sense

  • E. Tasche

    I am shocked to see so many people didn’t know about this until now.. This has been around for years in the form of apps and mods.

    I really hope the patent office refuses to grant such a patent to ANYONE. It just shouldn’t be patent-able.

    • chris420o

      pic or it didnt happen

    • kashtrey

      People need to read patents (or at the very list skim them) before going off on how obvious the functionality is. The patent in general terms is similar to many things already out there but a major part that is unique, is that Google wants the phone to automatically know which areas are trusted by tracking how many times you successfully access you phone in a give location. What this means is rather than setting up a rule like in tasker (keep phone unlocked when connected to home wifi or at home gps coordinates) what will likely happen after some use of your phone is a card will pop up in Google Now that says, “Would you like to add this location as a Trusted Zone?” If you say yes, your phone will no longer have to use a secure lock.

      • E. Tasche

        I agree, reading patents is brilliant, however the fault here lies on the writer of the article for not actually mentioning ANY of that or including at least a link to the patent application itself. I normally take it upon myself to fact-check these types of things, however that adds an extra half-hour at minimum to the time it takes to read ONE article. If this is in fact an Android NEWS site, then it is their responsibility to report accurately on the facts. Otherwise we could all just go get our news on Facebook.

        This article is after all posted under the category of News.

        That said, I still stand by my statement.

        Sure, the method for determining what locations should be considered ‘safe zones’ could be patent-able.. but the function of switching to a different unlock style should not be wrapped into that, and should not be patent-able.

    • Adam Truelove

      If Google is granted a patent, it will be of a specific implementation and probably won’t threaten the existing apps and mods. Plus, they’re not Apple, they only use patents for defense.

  • cgalyon

    Very clever. There’s little reason I would want a PIN lock while at home. Of course, with how good Google is getting at figuring out when I’m at work or home (a little creepy), this makes sense.

    • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

      Google Now already knows when you’re at home or work.

      • Brandon Hadley

        That’s because Google Now is really SkyNet…

        • icyhotonmynuts

          No, that’s Windows 8

      • El_Big_CHRIS

        Root is required for tasker’s tasks. This would be built in to Android.

    • MicroNix

      Well played Google!

    • Agent 86

      NSA Approved!

  • mustbepbs

    That is the coolest **** ever.

    EDIT: Gonna have to look at Tasker…

    • Paul

      Just FYI, I’m technically using Tasker + Secure Settings to accomplish this. But it is incredibly useful and has worked well for me for serevral months now.

  • Dominic Powell

    This could be awesome. Think about going home and not having to unlock, being in your car and not having that, and instantly when you go to an “unsafe” place your phone has protection. Awesome in theory

  • GoBlue

    Can’t you do this now? With Tasker, just change the unlock type if you are outside your home or work…

    • Paul

      Great minds do think alike…

  • Paul

    I already do this with Tasker. But it will be nice to have this built in one day.

    • GoBlue

      Wow. High five for simultaneous post!

      • Michael Quinlan

        I’ve been doing this with Tasker for a long time too. What I don’t get is how Google (or anyone) can apply for a patent on something that’s been reasonably publicized prior work for years.

        • CoreRooted

          It’ll probably be a patent on the implementation rather than the idea.

          • kashtrey

            It’s definitely the implementation, you can’t (well you’re not supposed to) patent a general idea.

          • Michael Quinlan

            Yeah, you’re not supposed to be able to patent an idea, but it happens all the time. That said, I’d prefer to see this built in to Android, so no one manufacturer has an exclusive on it.

          • CoreRooted

            What Michael Quinlan said… 🙂

        • MicroNix

          Um, one word. Apple.

        • Trueblue711

          The fact that “first to file” is now the law of the land, it’s even worse.

          The only reason I don’t mind is because Google seems to only be patenting this stuff to build defenses against Apple/others who try to pick at Android.

    • Ben Myton

      It’s worth mentioning that you would need root to go this route.

      Tasker+Secure Settings is incredibly powerful, but it’s also a bit hard on the non-tech savvy to get configured. Even the “Moto Actions” they had on the Droid line didn’t get used all that often because people didn’t know how to use them.

      Perhaps their new “Ok Google Now” syntax will let them configure increasingly complex things:

      OK Google Now, turn off WiFi when I leave home.
      OK Google Now, set my phone to silent when I get to work.

      • michael arazan

        But you won’t need root if they build it into Android. And it’s about time

      • kindrudekid

        i own tasker, i root, it is just too cubersome to do this

  • duke69111

    As long as it take my gps to lock in on me, gps unlock probably would not be ideal on my g-nexus.

    • Pedro

      With aGPS, you could use the cell tower connection to make the decision.
      I’ve been running a Tasker profile for years that does that. When I’m connected to a list of towers, it turns on the WiFi and starts looking for my home network. Turns off WiFi when it doesn’t see the tower.

      Oh, the things I had to do with the GNex to make it through a day….

      edit: It appears that Tasker is cool.

  • Ken

    Now if only Exchange Admins would trust their users and allow them to decide if they want a pin or not…LOL this is hilarious cause I am an Exchange Administrator

    • Mark

      Trust users? What planet do you live on?