Apple has finally been awarded the patent for iOS’s “Slide to Unlock” gesture after several years of waiting, having applied for the patent in 2005 – two years before the release of the original iPhone. The patent is credited to Scott Forstall, Apple’s Senior VP for iOS.
Apple has been using the Slide to Unlock geesture since the original iPhone was released in 2007, requiring you to use a slider at the bottom of your screen to unlock the device, and the gesture has become a well-known part of iOS.
USPTO officially granted Apple the patent earlier today, meaning that no other company can use the gesture in their product without infringing on what the patent office recognizes as Apple’s intellectual property. From the patent document:
A device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device. The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which the predefined gesture is to be performed in order to unlock the device. The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture. In addition, there is a need for sensory feedback to the user regarding progress towards satisfaction of a user input condition that is required for the transition to occur.
In short, the patent means that Apple now has a foothold on using gestures to unlock devices, putting other systems that use similar gestures at risk of possible legal action from Apple.