‘Context’ is the buzzword of the year in smartphone optimization. Google just bought Songza, the internet mood-and-time-sensing music streaming service. Bringing context into security design is the next step in the mobile world.
Smartphone users check out their devices for more than 150 times a day in average. To visualize a simple notification, the smartphone usually require to be unlocked. Smartphones are almost like any other personal computer, so they end up storing very sensitive personal information. Most users prefer to use some kind of locking feature which they have to go through every time they want to access the device. To put it bluntly, time is precious and unlocking is a burdening waste of the resource. But the now classical unlocking types are just one way of approaching the security issue.
Security patent application based on learned user behavior
Apple wants to tackle the problem in a novel manner. It will not be the Cupertino-based company’s first innovative approach to security. The last iPhone model features the fingerprint scanning method. Now Apple filed a security patent application for a new idea.
The level of security is context-dependent. Apple has in mind a security system based on recognizing familiar situations. The internet joke ‘Home is where the Wi-Fi connects automatically’ is taken literally by Apple for a good reason.
“Because some locations may be inherently more secure, such as a user’s home or office, these locations may be considered “safe” and require less stringent security. It can be desirable to have decreased security requirements when the mobile device is at a secure location. Conversely, some locations may be considered higher risk or “unsecure.” In these locations, it can be desirable to implement stronger security protections. When the mobile device is in an unsecure location (e.g., public location such as cafes or shopping centers), security requirements can be increased.” Apple states in the security patent application. The company applied for another patent a couple of months ago on the matter of synchronizing multiple devices through the same biometric data.
Google presented ‘personal unlocking’, their take on smart unlocking, at the recent Google I/O conference. Similarly, the security feature will be correlated to location. Probably they have a security patent application as well.
As we were saying, ‘context’ is this year’s buzzword. But why is it so? Mobile technology has seen tremendous improvements in the last couple of years, on both the hardware and the software sides. People might be overwhelmed by the new opportunities and now seems like the perfect time to search for any useful uses of the new technology, instead of searching for technological solutions to real-life situations.