iPhone 5 set for gesture unlock screen

An internal Apple app has shown off the company's attempt to bring a swipeable, Android-style gesture unlock screen to the iPhone.

The iPhone 5 could swap its numerical unlock codes for a gesture-based unlock screen inspired by Google's Android operating system, based on screenshots released by the 9to5mac.com blog.

The nine-dot unlock gesture was spotted by the blog in an app called AppleConnect, which is only available for Apple resellers, corporate network users and other insiders.

Android users will feel a twinge of recognition at the appearance of the feature. Although the lock screen has been customised on many Android phones, the default secure lock screen uses the same pattern of nine dots. To unlock the phone, you must swipe your finger over the dots in a pre-set pattern.

Like the Android version, which requires you to connect at least four dots, the AppleConnect lock screen appears to demand that you use a minimum length.

Gesture unlock screens can be handy because they become second nature after a few tries, even more so than a frequently used PIN number. But they have a disadvantage -- they're almost impossible to describe if you want to lend your phone to a friend for a quick game of Trainyard.

Spotting the spots in an internal app is hardly an announcement that gestures are coming to all iPhones, but at least it shows Apple is thinking about swiping. We doubt the Cupertino kids would widely launch a feature that looks so similar to one of Android's most noticeable perks, without giving it a thorough appleification first. 

So, will Apple be adding the option to swap numbers for nubbins in its next software release? We may not have to wait long to find out. iOS 4.3 could be announced at this Wednesday's Apple event, so keep it Crave to find out.

Photo credit: 9to5mac.com.

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