The U.S. Patent, titled “Systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device,” is a new security solution that could solve the problem of losing an iPhone or having it stolen. The patent involves using unique technology to identify unauthorized iPhone users far beyond anything that already exists in Apple’s iPhones. In short, the patent covers three main operations: the detection of an unauthorized user, the gathering of information on an unauthorized user, and the transmission of an alert notification to the electronic device’s owner containing the information.
So, for example, one way to determine if the person holding an iPhone is the owner is through heartbeat monitoring. But more conventional methods are also described in the patent, like taking a photograph or matching voice recordings. Another, possibly more effective way, would be through an unauthorized user’s actions. For example, detection could include entering the wrong password a certain number of times in a row, hacking the device, jailbreaking the device, unlocking the device, removing a SIM card from the device, or moving a predetermined distance away from a synced device.
When it’s determined that the iPhone user is not the device’s owner, the iPhone can go into information gathering mode where location, photographs, voice recordings, screenshots, keylogs, and Internet usage are all stored. Another option would be to restrict the phone’s functions and erase sensitive information when the user is identified as unauthorized (which you can already do through Find My iPhone).
The last thing that happens is an alert is sent to the device’s owner or the police, with a message saying “Warning, your electronic device may have been stolen.” This alert can be sent by text, email, instant message, or over the Internet and can include the information that the device gathered while in the hands of the unauthorized user.
But, like most Apple patents, it’s not clear if this new technology will actually be used in an upcoming product. With more recent iOS apps like Find My Phone, though, it’s clear that the company is focusing more on device security.
Personally, I just wish my phone would explode and take the thief’s hand along with it when I push the “red button” in Find My iPhone. That’ll easily have douchebags thinking twice before trying to jack my phone while on the subway.