Apple has the patent on “slide to unlock”, but Google isn’t sitting on the sidelines when it comes to seemingly inconsequential user interface tricks. The Android OS maker has been granted a patent on its pattern unlock feature, or as the patent calls it, “Touch Gesture Actions From A Device’s Lock Screen.” This has been a staple of Android phones since the beginning, and now it’s locked down, more or less.
Pattern locking is a way for users to protect their phones with a custom pattern of dots that must be drawn on the lock screen. It has been shown in the past that the system is far from perfect, with finger smudges occasionally giving the pattern away. Some OEMs have also replaced the Android lock screen with their own custom UI, but pattern locking is usually lurking someplace behind the scenes.
Google also received a patent on gestures performed anywhere on a lock screen to initiate an action, like checking upcoming events. This might be a hint at future capabilities in Android.