Google patents Android pattern unlock

ChazUK

macrumors 603
Original poster
Feb 3, 2008
5,390
24
Essex (UK)
http://9to5google.com/2011/11/18/google-patents-android-pattern-unlock/

One of the treats that immediately set apart the first version of Android from Apple’s iOS software (besides the notification center invoked with a pulldown gesture) is the pattern unlock feature on the lock screen. Whereas Apple opted for a slide gesture (“We wanted something you couldn’t do by accident in your pocket”, said Steve Jobs at the iPhone unveiling), Android introduced a concept of drawing a custom shape to unlock your device.

And while some Android manufacturers replace this built-in capability with their own enhanced solutions, pattern unlock is in fact a norm on most Android phones. Apple, of course, patented its Slide to Unlock thing and yesterday the United States Patent & Trademark Office granted the search giant a patent for Android pattern unlock.

----

Google was also granted another patent titled “Automatic Derivation of Analogous Touch Gestures From A User-Defined Gesture” (patent ID: 20110279384) which specifically details methods to decipher custom gestures drawn anywhere on the lock screen, regardless of their shape, size, position, etc . The search company credits James B. Miller et all with the pattern unlock invention. To retrieve additional information, type in a patent number of 20110283241 into the USPTO search engine here. Another drawing from the patent grant is right after the break.
Considering some if the fury Apple gets over some of its patents, It'll be interesting to see how people respond to this news.
 

*LTD*

macrumors G4
Feb 5, 2009
10,703
1
Canada
It'll be interesting to see how people respond to this news.
Don't really care, to be honest.

A patent granted is a patent granted. They applied for it, they got it. Fair play to Google.

There's no reason to be in a fury over anyone's rightfully-obtained patents, whether it's slide to unlock, pattern unlock, design patents, etc.
 

ChazUK

macrumors 603
Original poster
Feb 3, 2008
5,390
24
Essex (UK)
Don't really care, to be honest.

A patent granted is a patent granted. They applied for it, they got it. Fair play to Google.
I do feel it's a little odd considering Google's past calling out of patents.
Remember this?
A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a “tax” for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers.
Lots of people tried to belittle Apple's patent for "slide to unlock" by posting things like this:

I wonder if this changes their opinions of unlock patents?
 

Gav2k

macrumors G3
Jul 24, 2009
9,217
1,606
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

Why would there be fury over this?

Apple use slide
Bb use keys
Nokia and Sony use a key combo as well
If its running android it can use a pattern so everyone is ok!
 

roadbloc

macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
8,784
213
UK
My dad's Android phone is unlocked in a pretty much identical way that my iPhone is; slide a graphic sideways across the screen. Some patent that is... it's really stopping Google.

Personally, I think the pattern unlock is pretty cool. Apple should have grabbed and patented it before Google.
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
The patent is NOT about pattern UNLOCK

This patent is NOT about unlocking with a pattern. (That's been around since the late 1990s on PDAs!)

It's about using patterns to cause actions WHILE LOCKED.

For example, you might want to silence the phone ringer while it's in your pocket. Or change music tracks while listening over earbuds.

With this patent, you define a pattern for those actions. So, without looking at the device, you could blindly draw a circle on its screen to silence it. Or draw a quick arrow to the right to jump to the next track.
 

*LTD*

macrumors G4
Feb 5, 2009
10,703
1
Canada
I do feel it's a little odd considering Google's past calling out of patents.
Remember this?


Lots of people tried to belittle Apple's patent for "slide to unlock" by posting things like this:
Image
I wonder if this changes their opinions of unlock patents?
"Lots of people" post lots of things on internet forums. Including me.

Some of it's legit and has some basis in reality, and some of it is just a lot of unreal fluff that gets picked up as a meme by one or another minority interest group and spread around.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
I would not be surprised if this patent is filed under the protection category at Google. Pretty much a way to keep from getting sued by some patent troll.

Unlike Apple which started throwing lawsuits around for its slide to unlock patent.

kdarling did make a nice post explain what exactly Google's patent really is instead of the started confusing on the internet.
 

vvswarup

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2010
540
215
I would not be surprised if this patent is filed under the protection category at Google. Pretty much a way to keep from getting sued by some patent troll.

Unlike Apple which started throwing lawsuits around for its slide to unlock patent.

kdarling did make a nice post explain what exactly Google's patent really is instead of the started confusing on the internet.
The classic anti-Apple Fandroid party line! Google just wants to make the world a better place, and they're forced to do things like apply for patents to stay on that mission. If Apple does the same thing, they become evil.

Just who did Apple sue over their slide to unlock patent?
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
The classic anti-Apple Fandroid party line! Google just wants to make the world a better place, and they're forced to do things like apply for patents to stay on that mission. If Apple does the same thing, they become evil.
IMO, no gestures should be patentable. It just tells me that the examiners have too little touch screen experience. (I'd love for a reporter to check into the USPTO examiner backgrounds.)

The difference so far is that only Apple uses such minor patents to try to get sales injunctions against competing products.

Just who did Apple sue over their slide to unlock patent?
Apple has sued at least HTC and Samsung while including that patent. So far, it hasn't been too useful.

For example, in one recent Apple v. Samsung case, a Netherlands court tossed the Apple patent out as too obvious, considering that basic slide-to-unlock existed years before the iPhone.

Since that ruling, Apple has pulled back from relying on it. (Apple removed it from their Samsung lawsuit in Australia, as it would probably weaken their case.)
 
Last edited:

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
The classic anti-Apple Fandroid party line! Google just wants to make the world a better place, and they're forced to do things like apply for patents to stay on that mission. If Apple does the same thing, they become evil.

Just who did Apple sue over their slide to unlock patent?
Wow someone is insulted. Go read threw the many patent threads here.

While there are a lot of crap patents out there people in the industry pointed out that often times those patents just get filed away only to be used if they are sued. AKA defensive patents.

Apple pretty much went sue happy. I believe they also sued Nokia with the slide unlock patent as well after Nokia brought the 3G suit again Apple. Mind you the law suit from Nokia at Apple was about a disagreement over FRAND pricing. Apple still sued with the slide to unlock patent and some other crappy ones.

Yes the patent system needs to be fix but my bigger issue is when they start suing over these crap patents.
Apple already has an established history of using crap patents for law suits. Google does not. In some ways Apple has become like the patent trolls. Just they are a patent troll who makes stuff.
 

vvswarup

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2010
540
215
Wow someone is insulted. Go read threw the many patent threads here.

While there are a lot of crap patents out there people in the industry pointed out that often times those patents just get filed away only to be used if they are sued. AKA defensive patents.

Apple pretty much went sue happy. I believe they also sued Nokia with the slide unlock patent as well after Nokia brought the 3G suit again Apple. Mind you the law suit from Nokia at Apple was about a disagreement over FRAND pricing. Apple still sued with the slide to unlock patent and some other crappy ones.

Yes the patent system needs to be fix but my bigger issue is when they start suing over these crap patents.
Apple already has an established history of using crap patents for law suits. Google does not. In some ways Apple has become like the patent trolls. Just they are a patent troll who makes stuff.
The Nokia case has absolutely nothing to do with this. You said it yourself. The disagreement was over FRAND pricing. Apple wanted to negotiate the best licensing deal they could.

As far as I'm concerned, if you invest resources into developing something, you have every right to protect the fruits of your labors, simple as that, which includes seeking redress in court, which is your constitutional right. That's all that Apple has done.

And as for Apple being a patent troll, well as you said, if Apple "makes stuff," then by definition, they can't be a patent troll. In my book, a patent troll is one who accumulates patents with no intention to use those patents to bring an actual product to the market. Apple is using patents to protect a product that they brought to the market after spending millions of dollars on developing it, which they have every right to do.

And as for Google, let's see how "defensive" they'll be when someone threatens Google search. That's when their true colors will come out.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
The Nokia case has absolutely nothing to do with this. You said it yourself. The disagreement was over FRAND pricing. Apple wanted to negotiate the best licensing deal they could.

As far as I'm concerned, if you invest resources into developing something, you have every right to protect the fruits of your labors, simple as that, which includes seeking redress in court, which is your constitutional right. That's all that Apple has done.

And as for Apple being a patent troll, well as you said, if Apple "makes stuff," then by definition, they can't be a patent troll. In my book, a patent troll is one who accumulates patents with no intention to use those patents to bring an actual product to the market. Apple is using patents to protect a product that they brought to the market after spending millions of dollars on developing it, which they have every right to do.

And as for Google, let's see how "defensive" they'll be when someone threatens Google search. That's when their true colors will come out.
Well we will have to see. Bing seem to be the best threat out there to Google search. I find Bing to be good enough if you want to use it but it is not enough better than Google search to really make people switch. Bing the first real threat I have seen in a long time and Google nailed MS for using Google own results to improve Bing searches and mostly made it a PR nightmare.

Google does not have a history of doing stupid law suits like Apple.
Apple current list. No matter how you cut it Apple has thrown out some pretty bad ones.

Lets see the current list.
Slide to unlock (HTC, Samsung and Nokia)
Pinch to zoom I believe was another.
Suing over a black slab.
Apple suing Amazon over "App Store"

Right now Apple is the one tossing out some pretty crazy patents against Samsung and HTC.
 

vvswarup

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2010
540
215
Well we will have to see. Bing seem to be the best threat out there to Google search. I find Bing to be good enough if you want to use it but it is not enough better than Google search to really make people switch. Bing the first real threat I have seen in a long time and Google nailed MS for using Google own results to improve Bing searches and mostly made it a PR nightmare.

Google does not have a history of doing stupid law suits like Apple.
Apple current list. No matter how you cut it Apple has thrown out some pretty bad ones.

Lets see the current list.
Slide to unlock (HTC, Samsung and Nokia)
Pinch to zoom I believe was another.
Suing over a black slab.
Apple suing Amazon over "App Store"

Right now Apple is the one tossing out some pretty crazy patents against Samsung and HTC.
Well you've said it about Google. Bing threatened their core business, not by out-innovating Google, but by piggybacking off of Google. Google cried foul, rightly so, I might add. Google spent millions, if not billions, on developing their search algorithm. It stands to reason that they will fight tooth and nail to protect their investment.

As for those other examples, let me address a few. The HTC lawsuit did not involve slide to unlock. It involved a patent granted 15 years ago. The Samsung case also did not involve slide to unlock. It involved other patents.

As for "suing over a black slab," let me give you my two cents on it. With smartphones and tablets, Apple is a game-changer. Let me be the first to tell you that Apple did not INVENT the underlying technologies in either product, but no one packaged them together in the way Apple did it, which counts for something.

In both spaces, Apple did the heavy lifting. With smartphones, Apple took the risks and defied the BlackBerry cookie-cutter. Everyone laughed at the fact that the iPhone didn't have a keyboard. Today, some of the best phones on the market don't have a keyboard (e.g. HTC EVO 4G).

With tablets, it's the same story. Everyone danced with Windows XP, then Vista, then 7. Apple put out a tablet with a touch-friendly UI, which was panned as a "giant phone" in the media. They did not care to see the fact the iPad had a touch-friendly UI. They felt that full Windows was the way to go. Apple proved them wrong, if their sales numbers are anything to go off of, and now everyone is following Apple's MO-touch-optimized UI. Windows 7 tablets have all but fallen out of favor.

There is a clear pattern of events in both cases. A set of norms get defined in a particular industry. Companies in that industry design products based on those norms. Along comes Apple with their new product, which defies each and every one of those norms. The media criticizes those products. Then, Apple sells their product in record numbers. Afterwards, Apple's competitors decide to ditch the old norms and try Apple's approach. Apple' product as well as competitors' products combine to unseat products build based on old norms.

In smartphones and tablets, it was Apple that defied industry norms. They took the risks of defying industry norms. Competitors did not take those risks since Apple was able to prove that defying industry norms could be a winning strategy.
 

KnightWRX

macrumors Pentium
Jan 28, 2009
15,046
4
Quebec, Canada
The HTC lawsuit did not involve slide to unlock.
Yes it did.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/02/apple-vs-htc-a-patent-breakdown/

Patent #7,657,849: Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image

This one's cute 'cause it's brand new -- seriously, it was just granted on February 2. It's almost exactly what it says on the tin: it covers unlocking a touchscreen device by moving an unlock image. It's broad enough for us to say that it covers virtually every unlock behavior we've seen on phones, not just the iPhone's slide-to-unlock implementation.
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
As for those other examples, let me address a few. The HTC lawsuit did not involve slide to unlock. It involved a patent granted 15 years ago. The Samsung case also did not involve slide to unlock. It involved other patents.
It included other patents, but as mentioned above, Apple's HTC lawsuit did include the slide-to-unlock patent.

So did their injunction case against Samsung in the Netherlands. That's the one where the Judge ruled that it was trivial and likely invalid.

(As that article noted, "Apple is suing HTC over it in Delaware, and Motorola in Southern Florida.")

With smartphones, Apple took the risks and defied the BlackBerry cookie-cutter. Everyone laughed at the fact that the iPhone didn't have a keyboard.
Apple took no risks because they didn't have any legacy phones to support.

If you meant using a touchscreen and/or not including a keyboard, you must be new to smartphones?

They didn't all look like Blackberrys before the iPhone. There were many touchscreen smartphones, including one with a WVGA "retina" display announced at the same time the original iPhone was.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
38,002
4,310
Los Angeles
I want to whistle a secret melody and do a certain dance move to get my phone to unlock. Is that method still available? :)
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,418
124
Location Location Location
Considering some if the fury Apple gets over some of its patents, It'll be interesting to see how people respond to this news.
I actually think the patterned unlock is quite clever.

Key combination locks aren't clever. I hope none of the tech companies got a patent for this. :eek:

Slide to unlock isn't new, either. Even though Apple's implementation is a software version of it, I can't believe they got a patent.


Drawing a pattern on a screen (granted, there are only 9 discrete points that you must draw over) is quite a neat way to handle passwords.
 

jsolares

macrumors 6502a
Aug 8, 2011
844
1
Land of eternal Spring
As for "suing over a black slab," let me give you my two cents on it. With smartphones and tablets, Apple is a game-changer. Let me be the first to tell you that Apple did not INVENT the underlying technologies in either product, but no one packaged them together in the way Apple did it, which counts for something.
Whilst i think they're suing tablets over the black slab thing, how would you feel if LG sued apple over the same thing? go look at how the LG Prada looks.

They didn't even packaged things originally, so what does that count for?
 

Yumunum

macrumors 65816
Apr 24, 2011
1,452
0
U.S.
The Cyanogenmod ROM already has this. It's pretty cool, and works well. Custom gestures are the bomb
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
I actually think the patterned unlock is quite clever.
Interestingly, such gesture unlockers were popular addons for PDAs starting around 2000.

A mini-industry sprang up to provide them. Some of those companies survive today in the handheld security field.

There were lots of research papers written about what the best patterns were to use, that were both secure and easy for the user to remember.

Then, after a couple of years, it became apparent to everyone and their dog that finger grease left a line pattern on the screen, and that gesture unlocks were probably a bad idea for government and other secure use.

However, for personal use... and for non-security purposes like simple slide-to-unlock... gesture unlockers are back again.
 

vvswarup

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2010
540
215
Whilst i think they're suing tablets over the black slab thing, how would you feel if LG sued apple over the same thing? go look at how the LG Prada looks.

They didn't even packaged things originally, so what does that count for?
Go ahead. I would support LG's right to protect their investment. If they believe Apple ripped off their IP, then LG has every right to seek redress in court. I would not vilify them for exercising their rights.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.