Apple Awarded Patent to Unlock Smartphones with a Selfie

Hate the hassle of unlocking your phone with your fingerprint or number code? You may soon be able to do that by taking a quick selfie. Apple has been awarded a patent for an unlocking mechanism that uses facial recognition to protect a person’s phone.

U.S. Patent #008994499, labeled “Locking and Unlocking a Mobile Device Using Facial Recognition,” gives Apple the ability to help people protect their phones with a picture of their face. Under the system, a mobile device will store an image of the owner’s face and use that as a reference point when the person tries to lock or unlock the phone. If the phone does not recognize the user, the phone will automatically lock, which could help reduce the incidence of smartphone theft in the future.

There is another version of the software that will unlock a device based on the movement of the owner. The device captures an initial image of the user and then another after some sort of motion, and compares the two to determine if the owner is still using the phone. If so, it unlocks the device. If not, it remains locked.

Facial recognition locking is more a matter of security than convenience. Using your fingerprint to open your phone is simple to do, but criminals have already found ways around that option. With facial recognition, there would be no denying who the owner of a device was and prevent an unauthorized user from getting into it.

There is no information available on when or how the patent will be applied, but its existence alone indicates some potentially exciting changes coming to the smartphone industry.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.