Apple to replace passcodes with image recognition in iOS 7?

A new patent application reveals that Apple is investigating alternatives to the traditional passcode unlock for its iOS devices

A newly published patent application indicates that that Apple is considering a new security feature for its future devices that would replace passcodes with an image recognition system.

The patent filing, which was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, covers a technology that would act as an alternative way to unlock a device, particularly for iPads and iPhones.

Users would be required to identify who is shown in a randomly selected photograph from the owner's contacts, by choosing the correct answer from a list of names. The user could either touch or click the name in the list, or use voice recognition to unlock the device, reports The Telegraph.

In the patent application, Apple explains that the passcode unlocking method used in its handheld devices "can be easily compromised".

"For example, a thief sitting on a bus may notice the four characters that an unsuspecting person entered on the person's smartphone," Apple described. "As another example, a thief may pick up a tablet computer in a public place and discover, based on finger prints on the display of the tablet computer, which characters were recently selected by the owner of the tablet computer."

Apple notes that users could also be asked to identify information relating to other images. As an example, Apple says that an image of the Golden Gate Bridge could be shown to prompt the iPhone owner to type the code '5341' because they were the last digits of the phone number of someone they met there.

"Thus, '5341' must be entered whenever that image is displayed as part of the authentication process," Apple added.

It is not yet known whether Apple will use the proposed technology in future devices, but it is possible that the company will introduce an image recognition feature in iOS 7, which is expected to launch towards the middle of 2013.

The emergence of the image recognition patent follows reports in January that Apple will be introducing a fingerprint sensor with its iPhone 6 that will ask as a new way of unlocking the device.

Speculation that Apple is working to add a fingerprint sensor into its products sparked in July 2011, when Apple acquired Delaware-based security systems company AuthenTec, which specialises in fingerprint scanners.

See also:

Three wishes for a better App Store

iOS 6.1 upgraders reporting big drop in battery life

Reports: Apple exploring watch-like devices

33 expert tips and tricks for iOS 6

Apple's rumoured iPhone 6 fingerprint sensor could spell trouble for competitors

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags iPadsmartphonestabletsAppleiPhonehardware systemsconsumer electronics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ashleigh Allsopp

Macworld U.K.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?