Future Apple devices may be able to dynamically modify user interface elements, security levels, and other types of behavior based on location, according to a new patent application published Thursday.
Referred to as “Location-sensitive security levels and setting profiles based on detected location,” Apple’s application describes a setup in which both the hardware and software of your iPhone, iPad, and whatever other mobile devices Apple releases in future can seamlessly work together to automatically adjust various UI and device behavior settings.
While this a broad area, the most interesting element of the application are the potential security settings, which would allow iOS devices to intelligently demand differing levels of security authentication depending on whether users are at home, or out and about — meaning that unlocking your iPhone in the confines of your house could involve a simple four-digit passcode, while unlocking it in a public area may require Touch ID.
This could possibly work alongside an Apple patent published back in March, revealing how Cupertino is exploring different types of biometrics — including palm prints, face-recognition, retina scans, and voice signatures — which can be requested in various combinations before users are able to access their data.
Location could be determined by a variety of different means, including cellular tower data, recognition of a home Wi-Fi network, GPS data or even closeness to other smartphones, among others. At least two location aspects would be required for the system to be able to function with the kind of accuracy needed for this to work.
New locations could be automatically measured using a “location context” module, which would apply security settings based on a predefined scale. Public areas — recognized through the presence of mobile Wi-Fi hotspots — could also demand higher authentication requirements for apps containing sensitive information, such as Address Book or Calendar.
Apple’s “Location-sensitive security levels and setting profiles based on detected location” patent application was first filed December 31, 2012.
Source: U.S. Patent & Trademarks Office