The inside story of the iPhone’s ‘Slide to Unlock’ gesture

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slide to unlock lock screen
Slide-to-unlock is one of the iconic gestures of the iPhone. It looks simple, but it was tricky to get right.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

iPhone turns 10 This an excerpt from Unsung Apple Hero, an e-book about UI designer Bas Ording’s career at Apple. Ording is responsible for a big chunk of today’s computing interfaces, but is little-known because of Apple’s super-strict privacy policies. Hit the link at the bottom of this post to get a free copy of the e-book.

One of the key design decisions that Apple’s Human Interface Team made early on while developing the iPhone was to go all in on big, simple gestures. They wanted to make a single, simple swipe accomplish as much as possible.

It’s a bit ironic. After investing so much in multitouch technology, which relies on multiple touch inputs, one of Apple’s key edicts was to make as many gestures as possible work with a single finger.

Today in Apple history: Apple invents ‘slide to unlock’

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Apple didn't invent the Slide to Unlock gesture.
"Slide to unlock" drew audible gasps from the audience when Steve Jobs first showed it off.
Photo: Jared Earle/Flickr

Dec23 December 23, 2005: Apple files a patent application for its iconic “slide to unlock” gesture for the iPhone.

Although the iPhone is still a secret research project at the time, the ability to unlock the device by sliding your finger across it signifies everything Apple wants the iPhone to be: easy to use, intuitive and technologically miles ahead of the competition.

iOS 7 Will Let You Slide Anywhere To Unlock Your Screen

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slidetounlock

 

Ever since the iPhone came out in 2007, users have always had to slide a finger along the bottom of the screen to unlock it. With iOS 7, Apple’s still has the ‘slide to unlock’ message at the bottom of the lockscreen, but rather than having to drag a little square across the screen to open your device, now you can swipe pretty much anywhere.

You can slide to unlock from the bottom, top, middle; you can even swipe from the top left corner down to the bottom right corner and iOS 7 will still unlock your screen.

It’s one of the most convient little features in iOS 7, so Gizmodo created a handy GIF to show all the new ways you can swipe to unlock, check it out below:

U.K. Judge Rules In Favor Of HTC In Apple Patent Case

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Apple's record in the courtroom takes a surprise hit.
Apple's record in the courtroom takes a surprise hit.

A U.K. judge has ruled in favor of HTC over claims that the Taiwanese smartphone vendor infringes four of Apple’s patents for touchscreen technology, including its famous slide-to-unlock feature. Judge Christopher Floyd decided that HTC’s smartphones are not guilty of infringement, and that three of Apple’s four patents are invalid.

Slide To Unlock Is Now A Crazy App Store Game

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slide-iphone-game

The screenshot above might look like the typical UI mess of an Android phone, but it’s actually an iOS reflex game called Slide To Unlock, in which the only goal of the game is to eponymously unlock slider after slider in all directions — up, down, left and right — but not through multiple dimensions, like time and space. It’s like a lock screen Simon.

iOS’s Slide To Unlock Sound Is Actually The Click Of A Vice Grip Opening

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lock_grip_vise_grip

As we all well know by now, the smallest decision in an Apple product can be the sort of thing that Cupertino designers can have spent man years deciding upon, experimenting with iteration after iteration until inspiration finally and serendipitously strikes. But this obsession with detail isn’t just visual: it goes right down to the sounds you never think twice about.

Here’s one great example, shared by sound designer Jim McKee on the 99% Invisible Podcast. The sound of your iPhone or iPad unlocking itself? It’s actually the sound a vice grip makes opening itself up.

German Court Rules Most Motorola Devices Infringe On Apple’s Slide-To-Unlock Patent

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Today a German court ruled that most of Motorola’s products infringe on Apple’s slide-to-unlock image patent with the only exception being the slide-the-circle gesture used in the Motorola XOOM. This ruling allows Apple to enforce a permanent injunction against the Motorola products found in violation. Motorola can still appeal the decision therefore Apple would be taking a very big risk enforcing such an injunction at this time. Should the ruling be overturned, Apple would have to reimburse Motorola for any lost sales due to the injunction. Regardless of Apple’s decision, one thing is for sure: Motorola will now have to make changes to their UI.