Apple was recently granted patent 8,528,072:

A method, apparatus, and system for accessing at least a portion of a device based upon an access input. An access input is received. The access input includes information for gaining access to one or more functions of the device. A user access mode of the device is changed from a first access mode to a second access mode based upon at least in part on the access input. An application is selected in the device in response to changing from the first access mode to the second access mode. At least a portion of the output of the selected application is provided.

It reads like they are talking about having different accounts having access to different apps. Sounds like they are talking about monitoring activities on a mobile device that is already done on a desktop, or other device, which should not deem this activity patentable. (We need to expunge all these "new inventions" that should not be accepted just because it's on a mobile device.

I know that Android has a way now to manage profiles and only let certain people have access to certain kinds of apps. Even though the original patent was filed in 2010 but again desktops have had functionality for different logins/privileges long before then.

Maybe apple is trying to get to the point of where people don't have to enter a password to "log in" to a device. Maybe they want people to use gestures to "log in". That doesn't make it innovative.

Wanted to see what anyone else thought? This patent was just granted on Tuesday so it is really new.

Claim 1 is:

  1. A method for changing the an operational mode of a device, comprising:

    receiving a first gesture from a user while the device is in a locked mode, wherein while in the locked mode all applications except an unlocking application are inaccessible to the user, wherein the unlocking application grants access to at least one application that was heretofore inaccessible, wherein the first gesture is associated with a first unlocked mode of the device;

    determining if the first gesture is recognized by the device;

    changing the operational mode of the device from the locked mode to the first unlocked mode using the unlocking application in response to the first gesture only when the first gesture is recognized, wherein while in the first unlocked mode at least a first application associated with the first gesture becomes accessible; receiving a second gesture from the user while the device is in the first unlocked mode, the second gesture associated with a second unlocked mode of the device; determining if the second gesture is recognized by the device;

    and changing the operational mode of the device from the first unlocked mode to the second unlocked mode in response to the second gesture only when the second gesture is recognized, wherein while in the second unlocked mode at least a second application associated with the second gesture becomes accessible, wherein the first unlocked mode allows access to applications in a first group of applications, the second unlocked mode allows access to applications in a second group of applications, and the first group of applications and the second group of applications are mutually exclusive.

  • Hi, clicking on the link provided goes to US 8,528,055 instead of to 8,528,072. Mar 6, 2014 at 20:41

1 Answer 1


Claims can be hard to parse for many reasons including the fact that they are required to be a single sentence. But claims are what the inventor and the USPTO regarded as new and protected. People often get up in arms over the abstract or even the title when the claims (roughly, all that counts) are much more restrictive.

In this case I do not see "mobile" in the claim so it could be applicable to a desktop device or mainframe. One gesture unlocks for one set of apps but another gesture unlocks it for a 2nd, mutually exclusive, set of apps.

  • but desktops have already been doing what they describe for ages yes?
    – geeksweep
    Sep 4, 2013 at 18:14
  • If "gesture" can mean moving your fingers in a pattern on a keyboard that produces a user name and a password then partly yes. I think the application is fairly clear what it means by a gesture and typing a password is probably not a gesture. It would also require a system that intentionally had a 100% mutually exclusive set of applications between two user accounts.
    – George White
    Sep 4, 2013 at 21:28
  • as far as I know the desktop has been doing that. It knows who can and cannot have access to certain applications based on who signed in. we have seen different kinds of access before based on sudo or user account control. Whatever the "gesture" means it is evidently from the reading, supposed to give access to the system...that is the input mechanism might be unique here but no different than a password or security token and certainly not innovative.
    – geeksweep
    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:37
  • 2
    The requirement in US law to get a patent are three: useful, novel and non-obvious. No "earth shattering break through" requirement. Adding that would be good but would be way way more subjective than the horribly subjective obviousness and many things are only breakthroughs after the impact is felt, not at the time of invention.
    – George White
    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:59
  • To get around this claim make a system where both gestures lead you a state that share authorization to run a common application. They both can display the time and date, for example. Not mutually exclusive sets of apps so your system doesn't infringe if you take the claim literally! If you think something is a silly claim, there is usually a silly way around it.
    – George White
    Sep 5, 2013 at 3:09

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