The folks over at Engadget noticed that Google(s goog) has applied for a rather interesting new patent. According to the USPTO application, it is a “location-based security system for portable electronic device.” What this means is an awesome new way to automatically ramp up your phone’s security depending on where you are.
Here’s how it works. Without needing to enter any location information, your phone or tablet will be able to determine where you are and whether it’s a familiar area in which you’ve used the device before. It is unclear how many times you’ll have to use your device in one place before it becomes familiar, or whether you can designate familiar areas manually. But when you’re in a familiar area, like your home or office, you’ll be able to use an authentication process of your choice, like the traditional “swipe to unlock.”
If you’re trying to access your device somewhere new, however, you can set it to use a different (presumably more secure) authentication process, like requiring a code to unlock. Of course, you’ll have to give consent to Google’s location services in order to use this tool.
Google may have been late to the game with Android Device Manager, an app/website that helps you locate a missing phone. But this new patent would place it a step ahead of the other mobile operating systems. Instead of having to wipe a lost device remotely, your phone will automatically protect itself, no matter where you go. There are apps out there like Tasker, which you can program to automate your Android device to do things like this, but they aren’t all that intuitive. Building this function into Android would increase security for everyone.