Apple’s iPhone Security Patent Points to Broader ‘Internet of Things’



Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) interest in the so-called “smart home” or “connected home” market was made apparent when it unveiled HomeKit at the Worldwide Developers Conference last month. HomeKit is a suite of tools that allows developers to more easily create iOS apps for various smart home products such as lights, thermostats, and door locks. However, the smart home is just one aspect of what has been dubbed the “Internet of Things” — an expanding network of wirelessly connected physical objects.

A recently published patent spotted by Apple Insider hints at how Apple might integrate the iPhone into the Internet of Things. In a patent titled, “Location-sensitive security levels and setting profiles based on detected location,” Apple outlines a system that would automatically adjust the “security level and/or other device behavior, configurations, or settings” of a mobile device based on location.

One of the benefits of a smart home, or the broader Internet of Things, is the ability of various connected devices to anticipate a user’s needs. For example, a smart door lock might automatically unlock when the homeowner approaches. Since smartphones are typically carried by users wherever they go, the devices provide an ideal way for objects in the Internet of Things to determine a user’s location.

Apple’s patent uses the same principle to automatically adjust the security settings on a user’s mobile device based on where it is located. As noted by Apple, the mobile device would use multiple “location aspects” to determine its location, including “geographic location coordinates; connected or visible networks and devices; characteristics of devices or networks that are visible to the mobile device; the presence of other devices nearby; physical connection to other devices; environmental characteristics of the location; or other features of the location.”