Apple Explores Auto-Adjusting Security and Other Settings Based on Device Location
Apple has applied for a patent that describes a method of adjusting security and other settings for mobile devices based on the location of the device (via AppleInsider). The location data gathered by the system also includes contextual information that helps to identify the phone's position as a familiar or unfamiliar place.
The system described in the patent titled "Location-sensitive security levels and setting profiles based on detected location" uses at least two pieces of data such as a saved Wi-Fi network or an identifiable cellular tower to determine the location of the device. Once identified, the software can change security options to match the environment, enabling Touch ID and disabling the simple passcode entry when a user is away from home, for example.
The security level and/or other device behavior, configurations, or settings on a mobile device can be modified based on the location of the mobile device. The location of the mobile device can be determined by analyzing location aspects present at a location, where any parameters or attributes of a location that can assist in identifying a particular location may be used as location aspects. In a setup process, the mobile device identifies available aspects at a location and can use the available aspects to determine a location context associated with a location. In a use example, the device identifies available aspects at a location and determines whether the available aspects match a previously defined location context. If the available aspects match the previously defined location context, device behavior, configurations, or settings on a mobile device can be modified.
Besides security settings, the system may also adjust the user interface, automatically modifying the home screen apps based on location. For example, the method could display Mail and other productivity apps at work and entertainment apps and games at home.
This location-based security patent application was filed in December 2012 and published July 3, 2014. If implemented, it would provide iOS device owners with another level of protection beyond what Apple' offers with its Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Touch ID was introduced last year with the iPhone 5s and is expected to expand to the iPad later this year. Apple also opened up an API for Touch ID in iOS 8 that will allow developers to use the fingerprint scanner for user authentication.