The United States Patent and Trademark Office today published an Apple patent application (via AppleInsider) describing methods for detecting the behavior of the person who is currently using the device and comparing them to past patterns. While the January 2013 patent application, "Generating Notifications Based on User Behavior", speaks relatively generically about such notifications, the invention's utility in providing device security seems clear.
This security method goes beyond the standard PIN-based security by examining cues such as grammar and vocabulary usage, motion sensor data, and gesture input to identify a user. Any changes from the recorded pattern of usage will send an alert that a new person is in control of the phone.
The phone then can either request that the person enter a password or Touch ID scan to confirm their identity or send a notification to a third-party service that alerts the original owner that their phone may be compromised.
A method for determining behavior associated with a user device, comprising: receiving behavior data identifying multiple types of user interaction with the user device; comparing the behavior data with patterns of behavior data associated with the user device, wherein the behavior-data patterns are generated from previously-received behavior data of an original user; determining a current user is potentially different from the original user based on the comparison of the behavior data with the patterns; and transmitting a command to the user device to lock the user device until the current user is verified as the original user.
Apple may be exploring this technology in response to increasing civil pressure to provide advanced security measures for its iOS devices. In the United States, a growing number of politicians, district attorneys and law enforcement officials on both the local and federal levels are asking mobile phone manufacturers to build a kill-switch feature that dissuades theft into their devices. While federal legislation makes it way through Congress, Minnesota earlier this year became the first state to require a kill switch in a mobile phone.