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Apple Receives Patent For Accessing Sets of Apps With Different Passcodes 156

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the here-comes-another-decade-in-court dept.
wabrandsma writes, quoting Apple Insider "The technology, detailed in a patent awarded to Apple on Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, deals with so-called 'access inputs' that determine what apps, device services, and functions can be accessed by a user. Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,528,072 for a 'Method, apparatus and system for access mode control of a device,' describes a system that creates user access modes guarded by predetermined gesture inputs." Reading the patent, it appears Apple managed to patent allowing access to some programs without a passcode from the lock screen of a device while protecting others, so e.g. you can quickly swipe to make a phone call or control your music, but have to enter a code to read your email or access your word processor documents.
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Apple Receives Patent For Accessing Sets of Apps With Different Passcodes

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  • Some day .. (Score:5, Funny)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @11:29AM (#44756895) Homepage Journal

    I'll get a patent for posting on an Apple story.

    then y'all will be screwed!

    • by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @11:31AM (#44756921)
      Only the top left corner of each slashdot story is round though. Don't forget to specify that.
    • by gutnor (872759)
      So you don't think there is enough prior art ?
      • Re:Some day .. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @11:58AM (#44757177) Homepage Journal

        So you don't think there is enough prior art ?

        Prior art never stopped a suit being filed by a shi^H^H^Hgood lawyer.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      the correct usage in this case is "all y'all"

  • Prior art (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Yet another trivial and redundant patent...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by halfEvilTech (1171369)

      no kidding my current HTC Rezound has the ability to put apps on the lock screen to view without unlocking the phone. Otherwise unlock for full access.

      Prior Art indeed.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Prior Art indeed.

        Which is completely unrelated to the patent in question so it is in no way prior art.

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        no kidding my current HTC Rezound has the ability to put apps on the lock screen to view without unlocking the phone. Otherwise unlock for full access.

        Prior Art indeed.

        Maybe they could patent a phone which would let you have access to things if you bribed it

        I live a poor, miserable existence, but once the NSA found out I had a mobile phone, it's been living like George, Prince of Cambridge

      • Version 4.3 of the same software on a tablet can even have restricted user profiles with own postcode that can access a whilst of applications.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Yet another trivial and redundant patent...

      So how would New Zealand's anti-software patent handle this - Is this an ordinary sort of process simply moved to software or is it revolutionary technology, worthy of a patent (I know what it smells like, but to me it's about as revolutionary as the guard shouting "AUS PASSE!" in the old Castle Wolfenstein, where some guards don't care (or can be bribed.))

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I wish I would get a dollar every time someone shouts "trivial" in forums regarding patents.
      I would have enough money to buy me a McLaren 12C Spider in a jiffy.

      Listen up. If everything is trivial I have I real good advice for you : patent it yourself and become rich.

      Everyone shouting "trivial" is victim of hindsight bias.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindsight_bias

      • Umm . . . isn't this comparable to having different passwords for different things? Like email or /. accounts?
        • Passwords on accounts don't stop you accessing the software. Nor does it prevent access to apps that don't have a natural concept of accounts. Nor does it have the concept of groups or hierarchies of apps which are accessed with different unlock procedures.

        • Nope. This more like a boss-screen, one gesture gets you to one simple layer of apps, a different one gets you deeper into the phone. Unlock one profile for when the cops demand access, another for normality could be one use.

          Innovative it ain't as we've had limited/full/admin access on computers for ages based on passwords, e.g UAC, sudo etc.

      • "Everyone" is not a victim of hindsight bias.

        Trivialness (i.e. whether something is self-evident) is an important test. Some things are trivial and must be treated as such.

        The novelty (i.e. whether something is new to the world) is another important test.

        This patent fails on both of these aspects, I won't detail how since dozens of others have already done so in this thread.

    • by meerling (1487879)
      The only thing I see different from various pre-existing things is the input method, and that's not new either, so the whole thing falls under the pre-existing and bloody freaking obvious category. Again the patent system fails to follow it's own rules.
  • by ragefan (267937)
    So basically they re-invented having different accounts having access to different apps. Only its on a mobile device, and it deserves a patent?!
    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @11:38AM (#44756977)

      So basically they re-invented having different accounts having access to different apps. Only its on a mobile device, and it deserves a patent?!

      Well, yeah. Maybe you haven't noticed the furious nerd rage over the past, I don't know... FIFTEEN YEARS about stupid patent law? Anyway... a patent was recently awarded because someone figured out how to use the speaker/mic combo on a mobile phone to transmit data acoustically. You know, like... through the air and stuff. For credit card transactions. You might well guess... they got a patent.

      Nevermind that this technology debuted in the 1960s, pretty much right after the second computer was built and someone got the idea that they should be able to exchange data... and look, here's this phone thingie...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Theaetetus (590071)

        Anyway... a patent was recently awarded because someone figured out how to use the speaker/mic combo on a mobile phone to transmit data acoustically. You know, like... through the air and stuff. For credit card transactions. You might well guess... they got a patent.

        Nevermind that this technology debuted in the 1960s, pretty much right after the second computer was built and someone got the idea that they should be able to exchange data... and look, here's this phone thingie...

        I'm pretty sure they weren't using mobile phones in the 1960s for communicating credit card transactions, and the acoustic couplers they used were really sensitive to environmental noise, hence the data rates measured in baud. Maybe - and I'm going out on a limb here - just maybe, this is a different implementation than they had in the 1960s?

        "But the basic idea is the same!" you cry... to which I point out that in every Slashdot story when someone talks about patenting an idea, people rush to correct them

        • For patent protection the implementation and idea must both be new. E.g. I can make a new machine that makes bullets. I can't patent the generalised process of making bullets or bullets themselves, these ideas and physical implementations already existed. I can patent the specifics of my implementation of a new machine though, because there are very different new ideas that have gone into my machine.

          Software patents are by definition ideas. There is nothing physical there, only lines of thought transcribed

    • by Dupple (1016592)

      It sounds rather a lot like an Access Control List to me. I fail to see what's new about it

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Purely to play devil's advocate, because I agree that it sounds like a stupid patent ...

        If you get access to a different set of apps based on which passcode you enter, it's more like a context aware ACL -- when you're fully logged in you get everything, when you're 'partly' logged in you only get a subset.

        Of course, I'm pretty sure the last release of Android lets you have profiles in which your kids can only access some of the apps, and you can access all of them. So I'm not entirely certain this is any d

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          Purely to play devil's advocate, because I agree that it sounds like a stupid patent ...

          If you get access to a different set of apps based on which passcode you enter, it's more like a context aware ACL -- when you're fully logged in you get everything, when you're 'partly' logged in you only get a subset.

          Of course, I'm pretty sure the last release of Android lets you have profiles in which your kids can only access some of the apps, and you can access all of them. So I'm not entirely certain this is any different than that.

          But it can definitely be likened to something like sudo, which we've had for years. This doesn't sound like it's much more than things we already have, but with a tablet. Which pretty much sums up my opinion of software patents -- a system and methodology for doing something exactly like a well-known real world analog, but with a computer.

          That would assume that you are logged out when your phone's lock screen is displayed. If that were the case, then you wouldn't receive all of the various notices and alerts from your account. But, since you do, then you are still logged in. It would be more akin to having to access a higher level password in an application to access certain functions. The user id hasn't changed, just the access level. For normal use, these functions are available (receive calls, control music, etc.) To access other appli

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            This ability has existed since the 1960s. What is a bit novel is that Apple is using gestures for entering passcodes

            Of course, my problem with that is we're treating gestures like they're different from a password or any authentication token.

            I'm of the opinion that password, fingerprint, security token, gesture are all substantively reduced to "sequence of bits which can be used to verify access".

            So if the USPTO gave a patent to do this with each of these approaches as a separate patent, we'd end up with a

          • It would be more akin to having to access a higher level password in an application to access certain functions.

            sudo make me a sandwich http://xkcd.com/149/ [xkcd.com]

      • by Twylite (234238)

        Sounds more specifically like Role Based Access Control [wikipedia.org] (RBAC). You can define RBAC with a Subject (identity-based access control with roles) or without a subject. In the latter case authentication is tied to authorising a role, rather than authenticating a subject who has (or can authorise) a role.

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        It sounds rather a lot like an Access Control List to me. I fail to see what's new about it

        Because Apple said it's new, that's what.

    • Mobile and cloud computing present special challenges. Google is a particular problem for me. Consider chromebook. I have one password, my google password, and that logs me into the computer but it also gets my e-mail, and my google wallet. Anyone can remotely access my google docs if they have my password. Even worse is that I use my google mail account for all my banking and purchases (amazon) and other sites. So anyone who gets in can do a password reset on those, which will send the new password t

      • by The-Ixian (168184)

        This is off topic but your points about having "all your eggs in one basket" are well taken.

        I ran in to a similar problem about a year ago when I lost control of a couple of domains that I no longer used. I had been using those domains for years, tinkering with various Google services and whatnot and unfortunately for me, I didn't unlink those domains from those services before they were picked up by someone else.

        Over a period of about a week, I was in a battle to wrest control of my Google

    • by Kumiorava (95318)

      I think the novel idea here is that if you enter different passwords into same account you get different functionality. Especially useful on shared home iPad or computer or tv where you don't have need for separate accounts. Don't know if there is any prior art to this, but it sounds like a clearly different compared to user accounts in traditional sense.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        ..they're separate accounts just with different word for "account".

        or they're just accounts with secret names and no password.

        or they're just passwords which protect certain functionality.

      • by TheCarp (96830)

        It certainly didn't seem like a terribly novel idea to me when I was writing code to implement it a few years back. The project never went anywhere but, it seemed to me to just be the most obvious way to implement a "duress" password that could be used to set off an alarm. Slightly clever but, I assumed it had already been done since it was so freaking obvious.

        • I seem to recall at least one Star Trek TOS episode where giving an alternative countersign alerted the Enterprise crew that you were in some kind of trouble such as being held under duress. Isn't that the same thing, more or less?

          • by TheCarp (96830)

            I don't remember the episode, but if there was one, it was likely where the kernel of the idea made it into my wetware. Of course, its not even original for them. There was a controversy just a few years back where some US soldiers were photographed with Hillary Clinton and one or two of them (I forget) was showing a hand signal which is intended to convey that same message.

            In fact, looking for the article on that shows that this idea is so unoriginal, there is a wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/w [wikipedia.org]

    • I was watching "Men that Made America" this weekend. It was covering JP Morgan and how he forced George Westinghouse to give up his rights to A/C by threatening him with patent litigation after Westinghouse (and Tesla) won the Niagara Falls power generation project. Westinghouse was 100% in the right...but, he knew he didn't have the financial resources to beat JP Morgan in court. He turned the rights over to JP Morgan. That is how GE became synonymous with A/C power production.

      Even if this is prior art

      • Fine, grant the patent.
        But if it is ever used in litigation by the holder it should be subject to re-certification by the USPTO. The USPTO will have to verify to the court that it meets current eligibility criteria. If it does, the law suit may proceed, if it does not the patent is revoked there and then.
      • Not to nitpick, but "alternating current" is usually abbreviated as "AC", whereas "A/C" is used for "air conditioning". Took me a minute to figure out that you actually meant the former.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Oh look, more "X but on a Y!" patents. So innovative.

    • No. Different accounts would mean that the apps would have different context depending on which account you used. For example if I had a document open in a word processor when logged in as Bill, then logging in as Ted would not have that document open. Even if the two accounts happened to have edit permissions to that same document.

      That is not what's happening here.

  • by Laxori666 (748529) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @11:36AM (#44756957) Homepage
    Constantly protecting and promoting innovation! Why, without patents, there's no way Apple would be going out on a limb to develop such advanced technology as needing one type of access method for some functionality and another type of access method for others! And if anyone should dare to steal this brilliant idea, or to develop the same exact one by accident because it is bleeding obvious, then let them be sued into oblivion for unfair whatevery. This will surely help us consumers by giving us less choice and higher prices.
  • Is this really any conceptually different than different privileges for different accounts? Or account exclusion on different tables in a database?

    It would also seem to just be moving the privileged chain to another level from UN/PW to current user/passcode.

  • P.A.T.E.N.T (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RedHackTea (2779623) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @11:40AM (#44756999)
    Prevent Any Tangible Evidence of New Thought
    or maybe
    Penetrate Anally To Ensure No Talent

    I don't know, just spitballing here. Any takers?
  • by Hardhead_7 (987030) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @11:50AM (#44757093)
    On Android, I have a lockscreen widget and the camera app is accessible without unlocking.
    • by MrManny (1026106)
      While I agree about the.. questionable nature of the patent, it was filed in 2010 -- i.e. before that functionality became part of Android. (Though if you could access the camera from the lockscreen with third-party apps, feel free to disregard my silly comment.)
      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        While I agree about the.. questionable nature of the patent, it was filed in 2010 -- i.e. before that functionality became part of Android. (Though if you could access the camera from the lockscreen with third-party apps, feel free to disregard my silly comment.)

        I'm pretty sure that even my Treo let me answer the phone while the screen was locked and a few other features, too. And that was long before Android or iOS.

  • Reading the patent, it appears Apple managed to patent allowing access to some programs without a passcode from the lock screen of a device while protecting others, so e.g. you can quickly swipe to make a phone call or control your music, but have to enter a code to read your email or access your word processor documents.

    I doubt that highly, as this is excatly how Windows has behaved since Vista in 2006.

  • Either the patent office has the most computer-illiterate patent reviewers or there is an intentional just approve anything mentality there, at least where Apple is concerned. I wonder if Samsung had applied for this patent if it would have been approved?

  • patent for accessing something without access code on a mobile device? or stuff that kinect does, but on a touchscreen instead of air ? and instead of "gesture" its now an access code represented by a gesture ?
  • by sootman (158191) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @12:54PM (#44757877) Homepage Journal

    1990s: "... on a computer!"

    2000s: "... on the Internet!"

    2010s: "... on a mobile device!"

  • @enaBLE (capability) wHEEL
    Password: ******

    There are other (and even older) examples; that is just the one that occurred to me first...
    Some versions of Unix support capabilities, of course. Here we are using the word "capability" in a more abstract sense like the non-technical word "permission"; the system need not be capability-based. So it seems to me that all that Apple has patented is the use of the lock screen and PIN as the UI to enable the capability: the password determines which capabilities

  • I know my android already has some of this for alarms and music, and I would indeed like to see it expanded - I want my email to be protected, but I want to be able to hit pause on my workout program easier.

  • So I need to throw away all my devices that support parental controls and multiple user accounts?

  • Pre touchscreen phones often allowed you to direct dial emergency services even if the phone was password locked.
    • by John Allsup (987)
      Not to mention that this is obvious to anybody with half a brain.  The US patent system is idiotic.
  • On netbooks, I was doing this for years. (since 2009 in fact). So the only change is how the non-password software program is initiated.

    With the netbook, it was simple. No initial password. Use the unprotected apps as you wish, When you need access to the protected ones, its just one access/password to enter. Thereafter, all code is free, subject to Linux rules.

    La de da to Apple. See the lawsuits fly. Time to buy made in New Zealand products before the trade barriers go up.

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