Say cheese! New Apple patent lets you unlock your iPhone with a selfie

Apple iPhone 6
When Apple introduced its Touch ID unlock system, in which users simply place their finger on the home button and the iPhone identifies them based on their fingerprint, it was a big step forward in security. According to Re/Code, the Cupertino company has patented a new way to unlock mobile devices: with a selfie.

Patent US 20120235790 A1, branded with the on-the-nose title “Locking and unlocking a mobile device using facial recognition,” suggests that the proposed technology could use the camera on an iPhone to identify a user, and then unlock or lock the device depending on what it saw. It’s one part convenience, one part security, and a step toward the biometric passwords that previously existed only in the sci-fi realm.

Apple describes a variety of potential uses throughout the patent, but they all revolve around the device snapping a quick picture and analyzing the image to determine who is using the phone. If the image is identified as the primary user, the device would unlock, saving the “hassle” of an additional swipe or password.

iPhone Unlock

The facial recognition could also extend beyond just the primary user. If an account is set up for a guest, the phone may be able to identify a friend or family member and grant them limited access to the device. Apple’s photo software iPhoto is already capable of identifying faces, so it seems like a logical step forward.

As some frustrated soul will be sure to point out, Apple is not the first company to dream up or attempt to implement facial recognition, just as it wasn’t the first to use the fingerprint identifier. Google Nexus devices have a “Smart Lock” feature for devices running Android 5.0 and higher that utilizes facial recognition to unlock the device.

Success with facial recognition is still rather spotty. According to a 2010 report by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the FBI’s facial recognition software fails 20 percent of the time. Often times, even “refined” facial recognition like Facebook and iPhoto come up with some wildly off base guesses.

Apple may have a patent on the technology for unlocking a smartphone, but it’ll have to prove that the software is actual capable of doing what it claims before anyone is going to trust it.

Mobile

FCC to help first responders pinpoint 911 callers in multistory buildings

When someone calls 911 from their cell phone, wireless carriers provide operators with an approximate location. Now the FCC wants the carriers to provide vertical location data to pinpoint 911 callers inside multi-story buildings.
Mobile

Free yourself! How to unlock a phone from the icy hands of your wireless carrier

Do you want to know how to unlock a phone through your carrier or a third-party service like DoctorSIM? Regardless of which way you want to go, we've compiled a list of requirements and methods for doing so.
Computing

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on the ways to watch all the March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Mobile

Latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone will pop up on April 10

Samsung will show at least one new Galaxy phone off on April 10, it has confirmed in a teaser tweet. The Galaxy A90 may make its first appearance, and it's rumored to have a pop-up camera and a notch-less screen.
Mobile

Leaked ZTE concept phones are crazy, possibly fake, and totally worth seeing

Renders of what may be ZTE concept phones may show how the manufacturer could avoid using the notch on future devices. They're crazy -- and maybe not even real -- but they're definitely worth looking at.
Mobile

The iPad Mini, Apple’s tiny tablet, makes a return with powerful specs

Apple has finally revealed the iPad Mini. With all-new and upgraded specs, support for the Apple Pencil, and a fantastically inclusive price, here's everything you need to know about the iPad Mini.
Mobile

The Apple iPad Air is the power-packed tablet for everyone

The iPad Air is the less serious cousin to Apple's iPad Pro range, and it's the perfect addition to your coffee table. But it's no less powerful. Here's everything you need to know about the iPad Air.
Mobile

Get excited for your Sony Xperia 10 or 10 Plus by getting it set up just right

If you've picked up one of the Sony's more affordable smartphones, you may be be wondering what hidden depths lie within. We've got some handy Sony Xperia 10 tips for you here to help you get to grips with your new phone.
Deals

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…
Mobile

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.
Mobile

These voice-changing apps will have you punking friends and family like a pro

Have you ever wanted to call your friends as Darth Vader or Alvin from the Chipmunks? If you want to play a prank on your friends, we have the best voice-changer apps for iOS and Android, whether you want to record audio or make a call.
Mobile

Apple’s new iPads are hardly new at all. Don’t waste your money

It has taken Apple four years to get around to updating the iPad Mini line, but the new iPad Mini is virtually identical to its predecessor. It’s joined by a confusing iPad Air with no obvious target audience. Is Apple just trying to sell…