Who's ready for some Friday morning hotness? Alright, it may not be that hot, but probable new features are always welcome in my book. Looks like the Big Goog has been awarded a new lockscreen patent, which could bring some new features to our good buddy pattern lock.

Pattern lock is no stranger to Android; in fact, it has been part of the mix since the beginning. With this new patent, though, the old dog may be learning a couple of new tricks, like custom gestures to launch specific apps.

In response to detection of the touch gesture, a particular action is executed on the mobile device while the mobile device stays locked. The particular action determined according to the pre-defined shape. In this way, detection of the touch gesture causes the particular action to execute while keeping the mobile device locked.

This feature is pretty rad because it would allow you to perform tasks by making a gesture anywhere on the lockscreen, not just in a specific area. There are quite a few possibilities here, like quick access to the dialer or SMS app, toggle Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or even silence the device in an instant, just to throw some ideas out there. Awesome.

And now, for a visual explanation:


[via 9to5Google; Thanks, Christian!]

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Chahk

    Oh, you mean EXACTLY like gesture unlock in CM7?

    • Ryuuie

      Except this is official. :P Besides, a lot of CM stuff is in ICS anyway.

      It's not like it's patented to CM, Google owns the patent on it now.

      Plus, Apple can't get all butthurt over it because they can't do it on the iPhone. :D


      Actually this is different. When you do the gesture to, for example, open your calendar, it opens your calendar but does not unlock your phone. If someone saw you do this gesture and took your phone, all they would be able to do is read your calendar, nothing else.

      • Randy

        Also, this seems to work on an "invisible grid", kinda like pattern unlock only invisible, whereas CM's gestures are free-for-all gestures.

        I think the addition of the grid will make it more accurate.

        • hm

          Accurate yes but a bit more restricted, there is a limit to the patterns you can draw on a 3x3 grid, especially if you can't repeat trails.

        • Hal Motley

          I agree with hm. This feature could really limit the combinations of the pattern lock. I think I prefer Cyanogenmod's method!

  • Tim

    I think a cool use for this would be to set custom messages for certain gestures, such as "I'm in class, hold on" or something similar. That way, you don't have to unlock your phone, open the SMS app, type out your response, hit send, etc.

    • http://www.twitter.com/teamROU Phil Oakley


    • dcvs

      That's supposed to be one of the features of ics's lockscreen, no? Think I read about it in one of the recent news, or something.

  • Integrated

    What Tim said!!!!!!!

  • Me

    So patents on obvious features that have existed for awhile is acceptable now?


      Have you ever seen Apple patents?

      Also, I don't think this has ever been a feature.

      • Randall

        Apple actually does have a patent in several countries for unlocking with a downward swipe, despite the fact that they did not origimate it. IIRC Sweden denied them. As such this move on googles part may be a way of protecting themselves. To bad they did not patent a pull down notification bar..

    • Ryuuie

      It's basically called "We are trying to listen to what consumers want and want to patent it before some patent troll does."

      If CM patented it, this would be a different story. But they did not and Google did. Now, someone like Apple or RIM can't come along and do it and make it so Android cannot.

      • zach

        And i seriously doubt they would attack someone for making a variant of it like Apple would. I think it was just for protection instead of a weapon

  • Tristan

    I believe there would be over 5,000 possible lock pattern combinations for a 3x3 grid assuming that lock patterns between 4 and 9 points are valid combinations.

    I gave up trying to do the math, you need a degree in Mathematics and brute force CPU power to come up with an actual number but I'm sure it's over 5,000.


    • Aaron

      985,824 possible combinations for patterns using 4 to 9 points, no repeats.

      • Topgun

        You get a gold star for the day!! :)

      • Tristan

        Sweet! I knew it was over 5000 =)


        What did you do? 4! + 5! + 6! + 7! + 8! + 9!?

    • carnegie0107

      9!/3!=60 480 possible combinations, though some of them would be impossible to draw because of the mechanics of the lockscreen pattern. For example, it is impossible to choose top-left, top-right, bottom-right, top-center as your pattern, because in swiping from top-left to top-right, the pattern crosses top-center, and you can't repeat it later as your fourth dot on the grid.

  • Zaeem

    Cyanogenmod is actually working ON Android OS's. I don't think Google care what CM do or don't do with this unlocking mechanism. CM will never be infringing upon any patents because they're a part of Google (an a REALLY informal way).

    Lets not forget that Google actually like the CM team.

  • Guest

    It's not a patent, it's just patent application... Very different things.

  • the man

    But I thought that Android is open source? So does this patent mean that only Android sources can include this feature?

  • Guest2

    As some one already mentioned, this is not a patent it is just the publication, furthermore they have already received a Non-Final rejection, of course this mean nothing as the case could still be allowed, but this is not close to being called a patent.