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Operating Systems

Apple considering facial unlock for iOS devices

You could unlock your next iPhone or iPad just by looking at it, if a recent Apple patent becomes reality.

The battle between Apple and Google for world phone domination is pretty full-on at the moment, and so it's natural that they both should be using some pretty similar cutting-edge features in their software. It would seem that Apple is now looking at integrating facial recognition into iOS as a method of unlocking a device, according to a patent it recently filed, Apple Insider reports.

The facial recognition unlock was seen in Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Google's Android operating system -- although it's not without its flaws.

Apple's patent shows a system of cameras that recognise when your face is in the frame. The technology could set up the device for your user profile, so could work with multiple accounts on the same device. Apple claims it's different to previous incarnations of facial unlocking: "robust" ones that use so much processing power they slow your phone right to a halt, and security ones too picky about getting the lighting exactly right.

Apple could apply the technology to a huge range of products, as it lists it as being suitable to work on "smart phones, tablets computers, laptops and the like." Anything with a front-facing camera, really.

Of course, Apple could integrate it into its forthcoming TV, meaning you could unlock it just by looking. And then control it by speaking and waving your hands around, of course. Now that really would be the "simplest user interface you could imagine," as Steve Jobs said.

Google's own facial unlock came in for some criticism when it was revealed it could be bypassed by using a photo of a face. Google then referred to it as a 'low security' option. 

Is unlocking a device using facial recognition a good idea? Have you used it on Ice Cream Sandwich? Let us know below, or on Facebook.