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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