Apple patents individual device user identification

For those that have taken the jump and jailbroken their iPhones now may be the time to fear, Apple late last week applied for a patent which may allow them to remotely disable users iPhones for "unauthorized use," or to instead simply catch the thieves that stole an iPhone.

Slashdot reports that Apple filed the patent labeled "systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device" on Friday and outlines a way to detect a user that has jailbroken an iPad or iPhone, or, stolen it from its owner. The patent goes to point out that many different methods could be used for identification of Jailbroken devices, including recording voice, detecting heartbeats of users, taking photos of surroundings, grabbing the GPS co-ordinates, hacking attempt detection and more.

It also covers sending a notification to a service such as Facebook, email, or a "cloud service" (which we would assume is MobileMe) to notify the user of suspicious behavior, and outlines that when unauthorized use is detected, "functions of the electronic device can be restricted." These functions include contacts, calendars, browsers, all applications, the ability to erase data and store it until the user is identified.

The patent is actually aimed towards catching theives of Apple devices by recognizing odd behavior, but it seems odd that the company is interested in whether or not the device is jailbroken, and also wants to be able to access photos of the device at random. The patent implies the behavior is ongoing and that the components of the device could be accessed at any point to determine "suspicious" behavior.

What are your thoughts on the feature? Handy? Scary? Let us know in the comments!

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It's a good idea, but I wouldn't like it if Apple started like taking over components and taking pictures and all this stuff on my phone.

How about some privacy here, Apple?

Wow, I'm amazed how to rewrite a new story to appeal to apple haters on Neowin. Should be ashamed of yourself Neowin. The patent had nothing to do with Jailbreaking and you very well know it.

evo_spook said,
Wow, I'm amazed how to rewrite a new story to appeal to apple haters on Neowin. Should be ashamed of yourself Neowin. The patent had nothing to do with Jailbreaking and you very well know it.

In that case, don't blame just Neowin. All the Tech News places are stating it. Anyone have a linke to the patent? I'm willing to read through it myself. I'm not an Apple hater either. I own an iPhone and I like it. I just don't care for a lot of Apples practices. Unformtunately they still do have a very strong product in spite of the competition or how many Android phones are out there...

I'm guessing that this will benefit Enterprises more than anyone else. Jailbreaking makes sense because that might be what someone does when they find a lost iPhone/iOtherDevice...

It better be opt-in or elae may have to deal with a consume back lash from which they never saw. Companies have become more and more intrusive and bold I might say over many different markets. I personally think they set themselves up for it by messuring success in the notion of a blind "more! More! MORE!" They are at the end of their rope in many cases trying to find ways on monitizing often making consumers pay. And what has happened to all that legislation to protect us against such things... they were lobbied away minimally over the years... check and mate says big Corps...

I don't know this for sure, as I have never seen it, but in my local area there was an individual who stole loads of iPhones (mine included) and jailbreaked them straight away so the restrictions networks tried to put on them when they were reported missing wouldn't apply... or could be got around - not that I am giving Apple the benefit of the doubt here - just that jailbreaking is something that thieves do.

Matt Hardwick said,
I don't know this for sure, as I have never seen it, but in my local area there was an individual who stole loads of iPhones (mine included) and jailbreaked them straight away so the restrictions networks tried to put on them when they were reported missing wouldn't apply... or could be got around - not that I am giving Apple the benefit of the doubt here - just that jailbreaking is something that thieves do.

What restrictions could that be? Since if the network blocks his IMEI, or puts limits on his cell plan..there's no way he can get around that. Depending on where you live, the network may also share your IMEI with other carriers to prevent you trying to use it on their networks.

Even if the phone gets locked or so by this method, whats to stop someone putting it into DFU and restoring the phone?

Matt Hardwick said,
I don't know this for sure, as I have never seen it, but in my local area there was an individual who stole loads of iPhones (mine included) and jailbreaked them straight away so the restrictions networks tried to put on them when they were reported missing wouldn't apply... or could be got around - not that I am giving Apple the benefit of the doubt here - just that jailbreaking is something that thieves do.
jailBROKE!

fs

/- Razorfold said,

What restrictions could that be? Since if the network blocks his IMEI, or puts limits on his cell plan..there's no way he can get around that. Depending on where you live, the network may also share your IMEI with other carriers to prevent you trying to use it on their networks.

Even if the phone gets locked or so by this method, whats to stop someone putting it into DFU and restoring the phone?

as far as iam aware you wont be able to restore it in DFU mode. if you have the latest ISO
and set the keypad lock with a code insted of just swipe to unlock you can not reset the
lock code, only apple can IIRC.

so it makes sence that apple would also block the ability to restore/reset in DFU mode.

but if the IMEI is blocked its practily game over for the Oik that stole you phone.
unless he has the equipemen to re program the IMEI. which is ilegal in most contrys.

I honestly think this is only a patent filing and not something end users will see much of. and besides, if it does detect a jailbreak and you need a repair. Just restore, most Genius Bar guys will be cool about it.

I remember once going in with a broken phone and the while the diagnostic was running he was showing me the winterboard setup on his phone

All this Apple hate and fear from people, who presumably, do not use their products and are thus unaffected.. how bizarre.

Anyway, privacy laws would probably ensure that any of these scary tactics would require user consent. Does anyone seriously think that Apple could get away with forcing this on people? No one has stopped to consider the lawsuits etc that would result?

As far as I can see this just looks like they want to patent the ability to do these things, which could then be packaged into some software or service that the user can choose to use for their own security if their phone gets stolen. A bit like using LogMeIn to trace a stolen laptop... but naturally it's Apple so everyone needs to jump on the scaremongering hatewagon *rolls eyes*

Jailbreaking an iPhone or iPad sounds like the first step for someone who has stolen it, so it seems quite logical to want to detect that.

Laura said,
All this Apple hate and fear from people, who presumably, do not use their products and are thus unaffected.. how bizarre.

Anyway, privacy laws would probably ensure that any of these scary tactics would require user consent. Does anyone seriously think that Apple could get away with forcing this on people? No one has stopped to consider the lawsuits etc that would result?

As far as I can see this just looks like they want to patent the ability to do these things, which could then be packaged into some software or service that the user can choose to use for their own security if their phone gets stolen. A bit like using LogMeIn to trace a stolen laptop... but naturally it's Apple so everyone needs to jump on the scaremongering hatewagon *rolls eyes*

Jailbreaking an iPhone or iPad sounds like the first step for someone who has stolen it, so it seems quite logical to want to detect that.

Get out of here with your logic and common sense. There's no place for that in Apple news pieces.

Laura said,
All this Apple hate and fear from people, who presumably, do not use their products and are thus unaffected.. how bizarre.

Anyway, privacy laws would probably ensure that any of these scary tactics would require user consent. Does anyone seriously think that Apple could get away with forcing this on people? No one has stopped to consider the lawsuits etc that would result?

As far as I can see this just looks like they want to patent the ability to do these things, which could then be packaged into some software or service that the user can choose to use for their own security if their phone gets stolen. A bit like using LogMeIn to trace a stolen laptop... but naturally it's Apple so everyone needs to jump on the scaremongering hatewagon *rolls eyes*

Jailbreaking an iPhone or iPad sounds like the first step for someone who has stolen it, so it seems quite logical to want to detect that.

The whole thing reminds me of credit card fraud detection. You opt in(nobody forces you to buy mobileme) and then they let you know when your credit card is being used in a way that isn't normal for you(apple emails you that your iphone is being used in a suspicious way..insert your burnt out you are holding it wrong joke).

This is even worse than the Windows Genuine Advantage Program. You guys complained about Microsoft. Now, open your eyes and see who is evil now?? Apple can have your heart beat counts, voice, may be even faces etc. Damn. I hate Steve Jobs. Why? Why they choose this road? Everyday, the hate towards Apple is increasing.

So evil! Did anyone see the movie: THE REPO MEN

satus said,
This is even worse than the Windows Genuine Advantage Program. You guys complained about Microsoft. Now, open your eyes and see who is evil now?? Apple can have your heart beat counts, voice, may be even faces etc. Damn. I hate Steve Jobs. Why? Why they choose this road? Everyday, the hate towards Apple is increasing.

So evil! Did anyone see the movie: THE REPO MEN

I wouldn't worry about it from Apple it'll be Google that takes over the world, Google the official name for skynet hahahaha, this is coming from a proud Android user, Google search engine fiend and someone who is learning the Google Go! programming language

As an apple somewhat fan boy, I believe this is over the top, its like installing windows on a mbp and getting banned from future mac os x updates

End of the day, the user has bought the device, thus making it their own and no longer owned by Apple. So why should Apple try to punish people for modifying their own property? That's like saying to a guy buying some meat and telling him he can't bbq it, it can only be fried.

JustinN said,
End of the day, the user has bought the device, thus making it their own and no longer owned by Apple. So why should Apple try to punish people for modifying their own property? That's like saying to a guy buying some meat and telling him he can't bbq it, it can only be fried.

+1

JustinN said,
End of the day, the user has bought the device, thus making it their own and no longer owned by Apple. So why should Apple try to punish people for modifying their own property? That's like saying to a guy buying some meat and telling him he can't bbq it, it can only be fried.

You can have your cake!! But you can't eat it!!!

JustinN said,
End of the day, the user has bought the device, thus making it their own and no longer owned by Apple. So why should Apple try to punish people for modifying their own property? That's like saying to a guy buying some meat and telling him he can't bbq it, it can only be fried.

It's indeed your hardware, but not your software. Like any Windows user, you're only purchasing a *license* to use the OS, with various terms that will invalidate your license. If I recall correctly, Microsoft doesn't loook fondly on people modifying Windows 7 either and have protections in place that will mark the OS as invalid if it's discovered that it has been tampered with.

This is not about the hardware. This is about the software, more specifically, iOS usage terms.

Northgrove said,

It's indeed your hardware, but not your software. Like any Windows user, you're only purchasing a *license* to use the OS, with various terms that will invalidate your license. If I recall correctly, Microsoft doesn't loook fondly on people modifying Windows 7 either and have protections in place that will mark the OS as invalid if it's discovered that it has been tampered with.

This is not about the hardware. This is about the software, more specifically, iOS usage terms.

In which case, why not just send them an automated email stating that if they do not revert back to the official firmware, their warranty will become void? Nobody is profiting from jailbreaking their phone, they are merely removing limitations which are being forced on them. I had an iPhone for nearly 2 years, and was annoyed at how much limitations were being forced on me, so in the end moved to Android, and couldn't be happier, as I can write my own apps, do whatever I like to my device.

thatguyandrew1992 said,

Sleep with one eye open....

Apple iPhone Event - June 2011
The reinvented iPhone 5 can detect your heartbeat.

Apple iPhone Event - June 2012
The reinvented iPhone 6 is so revolutionary that it can end your heartbeat before the world ends in the end of 2012!

Nihilus said,
"detecting heartbeats of users"

...what?

Ha. Probably means the only way to steal an iPhone is to get totally buzzed so your heartbeat is slower than usual.

Wow. That's very "Big Brother"... I don't think I'd be buying a phone with those capabilities regardless of whether I would jail break it or not (I've never jail broken a phone for the record). This could be far too easily abused IMO...

M_Lyons10 said,
Wow. That's very "Big Brother"... I don't think I'd be buying a phone with those capabilities regardless of whether I would jail break it or not (I've never jail broken a phone for the record). This could be far too easily abused IMO...

At least it's not done by random underground companies that *will* abuse the spy features, like has happened on Android phones due to their open nature.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworl...roidgameisaspyappindisguise

Northgrove said,

At least it's not done by random underground companies that *will* abuse the spy features, like has happened on Android phones due to their open nature.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworl...roidgameisaspyappindisguise

You make that statement like it's only ever happened to Android handsets and not to any other system ever. Yes Android is open to abuse but so is everything else, if it's electronic it can be abused in some manner, stop scaremongering

Here is just another reason why people will or should switch to an Android phone. Also I am no where near anti-Apple at all, if anything, it is anti-iPhone due to what Apple has done over the years to control the user and not let them do what they want with their own phone.

mistical said,
Here is just another reason why people will or should switch to an Android phone. Also I am no where near anti-Apple at all, if anything, it is anti-iPhone due to what Apple has done over the years to control the user and not let them do what they want with their own phone.

No, Android is even worse, since they haven't got as controlled approval system for the apps. Over there, even trojans have already been distributed. And there is no antivirus tool for Android phones.

Northgrove said,

No, Android is even worse, since they haven't got as controlled approval system for the apps. Over there, even trojans have already been distributed. And there is no antivirus tool for Android phones.

There IS antivirus application for Android - http://www.droidsecurity.com, so ?

Northgrove said,

No, Android is even worse, since they haven't got as controlled approval system for the apps. Over there, even trojans have already been distributed. And there is no antivirus tool for Android phones.

There are many antivirus programmes for Android, including one released by Kaspersky. I currently have AV on my Android and have no problems with it at all, it checks all the software downloaded and apps that are loaded it even checks whether a media item is clean or not.

As for this, I can see a class action suit in the future if Apple banned x amount of handsets preventing owners from using them until the somehow? identified themselves to Apple, all just because those users had jailbroken their handsets

Northgrove said,

No, Android is even worse, since they haven't got as controlled approval system for the apps. Over there, even trojans have already been distributed. And there is no antivirus tool for Android phones.
Apple app approval is a joke, there are lot of apps using restricted apis and lot of hidden codes behind that beautiful game, Did you know recently apple approved a flashlight app which was actually a tethering app behind that white screen.

Unbelievable. i hope apple realizes that the bulk of apple iPhone buyers intend to jailbreak their phones now that it is legal and that by spying and restricting jailbroken devices will significantly hurt sales?
ANDD, spying on users application usage, methods etc.
i dont see how this is even legal?

danoxx said,
Unbelievable. i hope apple realizes that the bulk of apple iPhone buyers intend to jailbreak their phones now that it is legal and that by spying and restricting jailbroken devices will significantly hurt sales?
ANDD, spying on users application usage, methods etc.
i dont see how this is even legal?

Actually a bulk to not. Most users do not jb.

danoxx said,
Unbelievable. i hope apple realizes that the bulk of apple iPhone buyers intend to jailbreak their phones now that it is legal and that by spying and restricting jailbroken devices will significantly hurt sales?
ANDD, spying on users application usage, methods etc.
i dont see how this is even legal?

Jailbreaking (ie rooting) was never illegal in the first place.

It's against Apple's TOS only, which is standard practice to avoid paying for supporting users who f up their device.

danoxx said,
Unbelievable. i hope apple realizes that the bulk of apple iPhone buyers intend to jailbreak their phones now that it is legal and that by spying and restricting jailbroken devices will significantly hurt sales?
ANDD, spying on users application usage, methods etc.
i dont see how this is even legal?

It's nothing new. Blizzard Entertainment are doing similar things for all World of Warcraft and Warcraft III players in the world, monitoring them and their computers to be able to suspend them if they use hacks.

Northgrove said,

It's nothing new. Blizzard Entertainment are doing similar things for all World of Warcraft and Warcraft III players in the world, monitoring them and their computers to be able to suspend them if they use hacks.

its nothing like WOW at all, blizzard suspend users for hacks because it gives them an advantage over other users which is a problem because others are forced to become inferior in the same shared task.

jail breaking only gives the user an advantage, nobody else is rendered forcefully inferior.

so apples reason for baring phones and blizzards reasons for banning accounts are completely different.

Sticktron said,

Jailbreaking (ie rooting) was never illegal in the first place.

It's against Apple's TOS only, which is standard practice to avoid paying for supporting users who f up their device.


the thing is, apple is trying to make sure that your device is f'd up if you jailbreak it by disabling everything if they detect jailbreaking

Did anyone at Apple see the news about the school that took pictures using the students webcams? It's not going to be different, just because you put an "i" infront of the feature. iStalker. iPreventStealing

Maybe this was the reason they added a camera to the front. No, it wasn't for facetime or because it was a most requested hardware feature... no... it was so they had a 100% chance of getting a picture of the surroundings. If this was added to the phone below iPhone 4, you could just keep it on its back to be safe from "pictures of your surroundings".

GPS tracking? Can you disable GPS like you can in Android?

Next up from Apple, the "Dark Knight" feature, where they can hear from every phone, and generate 3D views from it.

You can disable GPS. Applications have to get explicit permission to use it in the first place, and can't just turn it on without user authorization first.

My guess is that this will never see the light of day. Just an application, covering all the bases, with no intention of actually using it.

The question becomes, which is worse: spying on users (I assume it's opt-in, but creepy nonetheless) or patent trolling?

Simon said,
The question becomes, which is worse: spying on users (I assume it's opt-in, but creepy nonetheless) or patent trolling?

Patent trolling no doubt. Companies collect data on their customers all the time, nothing new here. Plus, there *should* be a warning or an opt-out.

With this extremely widely covered patent, they can effectively sue any future company that decides to use it, gaining them potentially billions.

Simon said,
My guess is that this will never see the light of day. Just an application, covering all the bases, with no intention of actually using it.

The question becomes, which is worse: spying on users (I assume it's opt-in, but creepy nonetheless) or patent trolling?

One word: iTrojan

Recon415 said,

Patent trolling no doubt. Companies collect data on their customers all the time, nothing new here. Plus, there *should* be a warning or an opt-out.

With this extremely widely covered patent, they can effectively sue any future company that decides to use it, gaining them potentially billions.

When is the Government going to step in and outlaw the practice of making users OPT-OUT of anything. They need to tell these companies that when there is a OPT-IN or OPT-OUT option that the OPT-OUT is set by default.

This goes back to the days when ATT made customers OPT-OUT of the 900 service. Everyone should have been OPTED-OUT and made to OPT-IN if they wanted the 900 service.