iPhone location patent may change settings automatically

A new patent, supposedly filed by Apple, details how users' iPhone's settings may be changed according to their location.

Apple's 'smart lock' patent - described as 'Location-sensitive security levels and setting profiles based on detected location' - will unlock the device and change its settings, including those related to security depending on where users are, using GPS data or a known Wi-Fi network the iPhone may be connected to at a certain location.

Apple said in its patent application with the US Patent Trademark Office: "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."

The patent could also be used to automatically unlock a device when usres reach a particular place, such as their home or place of work. When the user leaves this place, considered 'secure', it would automatically lock again, preventing unauthorised access to their device.

However, users need to specify the places they would like their iPhone to change its behaviour, keeping the service more secure than if it were to identify their home or workplace automatically as Google Now does.

The patent also hints at the ability to load a user profile depending on the location. For example, if a user's children normally uses their iPad while they're at home, it can be set up to load their profile when the user gets home from work. If the user would prefer that just their business applications appear on their iPad while they're at work, it could load this profile up when the users sets foot in their office.

Although the patent has been filed, there' no guarantee users will see this feature on their devices in the near future. After all, Apple files hundreds of patents every year - many of which never see the light of day.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.