Apple seeking face unlock patent yet again

by: Kristofer WoukSeptember 24, 2012

It looks like things are about to get interesting. Despite Google being awarded a patent earlier this month for face-to-unlock features, Apple appears to be applying to patent almost the exact same thing. Who wants to bet that this ends up being settled in a court somewhere?

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Apple applied for a very similar patent in December of last year. At that time, face unlock was already present in phones running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Things have only gotten more confusing from there.

While Google had been using face unlock for nearly a year, the nature of the patent awarded to them earlier this month is slightly different in nature. In addition to simply unlocking a device, this patent describes a technology that can identify different users and log them into the correct account. While that technology might not be too useful on a phone, which typically only has one user, both computers and tablets could benefit from it greatly.


Apple’s patent doesn’t seem to mention anything about multiple users but it does go step beyond simply unlocking the device. Apple describes using a system of sensors to determine whether the phone should be unlocked. For example, if the camera recognizes its owner’s face, but isn’t being held, the device would not unlock.

Even with the minor differences, this still doesn’t seem far from what is described in the patent awarded to Google earlier this month, especially when there are already Android powered phones doing almost exactly what Apple describes.

It isn’t clear whether Apple is applying for this face unlock patent to keep the right to use the technology themselves, to keep Google from using it, or for another reason entirely. No matter what the case, given the recent state of things, it would be surprising to see this situation end without some sort of lawsuit.

How do you think this will end?

  • Sounds about right for all of Apples Patents.

  • kay yon

    … That’s essentially just plagiarism of Google. Taking an idea and changing it a little bit (this is definitely not innovative) doesn’t make it yours. Yet another hypocritical action by Apple. What’s worse, Apple will most likely sue Google for “taking” their idea.

    • Good word dude…. i hope iZombie read ur comment.. and realize what apple called an ‘innovation’..

  • Apple can come and seek patent to my iPen****!

  • Rath Mam

    Apple should file Judge Koh face recognition patent only not people face.

  • KB26

    Apple calls samsung copycats, I’m sure you can tell the difference. Rounded corners? Gimme a break.

    THEN FRICKEN APPLE DOES THIS SHIT. “We’re innovating a revolution.” WHAT THE HECK.

  • Ogtomasx

    Apple people are fuckn scrubs copying everything and claiming as Theres someone has to show them a lesson, They hate shoo bad on android that has real enovation… Apple sucksssssssss

  • Ogtomasx

    Apple how about you stuck this sDick…….!!!!! S3 rules android # 1

  • Ogtomasx

    Apple how about you suck this sDick…….!!!!! S3 rules android # 1

  • Apple logic is patent that other companies have patented and say ‘No, it has the apple logo on it’ in court. And judge koh agrees with apple because F**k logic.
    What has this world come into?

  • Of course there will be a lawsuit. Apple with have a tantrum, throws its toys out of the cot, complain to Mama that Andy hit him first and Andy will be punished. Sheesh!!

    /sorry, I may have some unresolved childhood issues/ :)

  • tBs_Battousai

    That’s it, I’m going to patent
    “a rectangular device that can be fitted between two rooms (or room like spaces) that can be adjusted to allow people to move between those two spaces or closed to deny movement”

    This is taking the P*ss now…

  • Piyush

    Apple sucks.

  • The official Jelly Bean update (I9300XXDLIB) has been released YESTERDAY
    for the international Galaxy S3. I haven’t seen any article regarding
    this ROM release… did you miss that by any chance?