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New Patent Application Reveals Apple is at it Again

April 17, 2014 - Written By Ray Greer

Well Apple is at it again folks. Still in courtrooms fighting Samsung. Still trying to make their case that Samsung has infringed their patents. While all of that is going on, they are filling for a new patent. Nothing out of the normal here yet, until you see what they are trying to patent. An unlock gesture that is essentially the same as an Android version of the same. Though in Apple’s defense, they did add a thing or two to make it their own.

Too bad changing a few things isn’t making it your own in any world. Apple’s or Android’s. This new patent application(complete with photos) is an obvious rip off of Android. The most interesting part, is that this unlock gesture is not something new to Android. Instead it has been around for years. If you haven’t caught on, the gesture we are referring to involves grids of dots. On Android, you slide your finger-in a preset pattern- over the dots to unlock your device. Essentially playing connect the dots.

So how can Apple get away with something like blatantly copying Android gestures? Simple really, they change it up in even the smallest way and then apply for a patent. Let’s take a look at what Apple thinks is a fair chance to patent their “new” idea.

First, on Android these dots are not customizable, (though there didn’t seem to be a need for that) Apple has made them customizable. This means you can move them around, changing the way the pattern would look. That’s not the only change here. Apple has also made “invisible” dots. These “dots” are essentially the empty spaces between the visible dots. The other way Apple has changed things up, is by adding speed and stops into the pattern. Meaning you can go from the first dot to the second dot fast, then stop for a second before continuing. The speed and stops will be configured into the code, and if not done correctly, will not unlock the device. These changes do seem more secure, but they also make things more confusing for the common user. The last thing Apple has added is a password strength bar. That is all they needed to do to apply for a patent.

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Patents are a natural aspect of the industry. It is only fair that everyone has the right to own their ideas. However the question we all are asking is why would Apple apply for this patent. Let’s not forget Apple is the first company to introduce the fingerprint scanner on their device. The main purpose-and biggest selling point-was for security on your device. This is how Apple sold the fingerprint scanner. As a security measure-and if we aren’t lying to ourselves-that was well received. On Apple it is called Touch ID, and should be an end all security unlock feature for the iPhone. So what’s the deal?

Let’s go back to that courtroom that Apple is in with Samsung currently. Slide to unlock seems like a basic and almost essential part of any smartphone. However, Apple had a patent, therefore have the right to pursue Samsung legally. It is entirely possible that Apple has only came up with this patent, to make sure that Android can’t go any further with the unlock pattern. Not to use the patent-but to hold it. If Apple’s new patent application makes it through the US Patent Office, it will essentially be like Apple has a toy. This toy is not something they will play with, instead they just don’t want anyone else to play with it. This is a common practice, and the only people who are truly affected, is the consumer.

What do you think? Will Apple make it through the USPTO with a patent filing on something that so closely resembles Android? Let us know down there in the comments or on our G+.