On Tuesday, Apple was awarded a patent on its Slide to Unlock feature that is on all of its touchscreen iOS devices.
Anyone who looks at all of the smartphones, tablets, and any other touchscreen device of today might be asking why this function is even able to be patented, but they would be forgetting how revolutionary the iPhone was. The iPhone had the first Slide to Unlock feature ever, and it was very revolutionary for the time.
In Steve Jobs’ words, “To unlock the phone, I just take my finger and slide it across. Wanna see that again? We wanted something you couldn’t do by accident in your pocket. Just slide it across – BOOM.”
Most of the other smartphones (which are mostly Android devices) just completely copied Apple’s Slide to Unlock design.
In Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs admitted his hatred for Android. He said, “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.” Well now Android is infringing on Apple’s Slide to Unlock patent so they will have to fix that.
The real question is whether Windows 8 will infringe on the patent. I mean, you do slide your finger across the screen to unlock the device, but it’s so much different from the iPhone. That’s one of the reasons I like Windows 8 a lot better than Android. It’s a bit more original.
It uses tiles instead of shiny icons and the whole Slide to Unlock feature on Windows 8 goes together well with the tiles, I mean it looks like a tile.
I don’t think that Windows 8’s version of Slide to Unlock should infringe on Apple’s patent, but this is what the patent document officially says:
“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.”
I’m pretty sure that based on those terms, Windows 8’s version of Slide to Unlock would infringe on the patent because of this line specifically, “…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…”
Even though the Windows 8 version of Slide to Unlock looks and acts completely different than Apple’s version, I think Microsoft should be cautious about a possible lawsuit, but I’m pretty sure Microsoft can’t be sued right now because they aren’t selling Windows 8 yet. Microsoft can still change the unlock feature, though I think that they will be able work something out.