Apple look likely to replace iPhone passcodes

It has emerged that Apple are likely to use a new security system based on image recognition, rather than the traditional passcode unlocking feature on both the iPhone and iPad. Detailed information on a patent which Apple applied for in 2011 to protect the idea has been published this week by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The proposed new technology could show a random picture of one of the owner’s contacts, and ask for their name from a list or by voice recognition. Other ideas have been proposed, for example number sequences associated with a particular picture, such as a date or the last digits of a memorable phone number.

Other patents related to facial recognition have also been filed. Whilst this has already been implemented in Android phones, there are some concerns over handsets unlocking on being shown a photo of the owner. A recent acquisition of the biometrics company Authentec has also led to speculation over the future use of fingerprint recognition.

Such ideas have been developed after concerns that the current passcode system could be too easily bypassed by thieves. Apple devices are commonly misplaced or inadvertently left in public places. A thief sitting on a bus, for example, might notice the four characters that an owner enters into their smartphone. Further, it may be possible to make out fingerprints on a tablet or phone display that might indicate recently selected keys corresponding to a password.

This certainly indicates a new generation of mobile and tablet security, and highlights the innovative technological development necessary to keep up with changing consumer requirements.