Does This Sneaky Apple Patent Mean Future iPhones Will Be Snoop-Proof?
Have you ever been standing in a packed MRT train in peak hour, scrolling through your photos and messages to keep the boredom at bay, and felt someone peeping at your iPhone? 🕵️
Of course you have. It’s like you have a hidden sixth sense that detects snoopers, giving you goosebumps as you swiftly lock your display again.
With all the personal data we keep on our phones, privacy has become a major concern for many people in Singapore. Embarrassing selfies and messages from your bestie are just the beginning: things like passwords, banking details, medical information and confidential work documents are also at risk. It’s enough to make you feel on edge about using your phone, tablet or laptop in any public space. 🧑💻
We admit screen snooping hasn’t been much of a problem since March 2020, when we all mysteriously turned into hermits. Does anyone remember what real people look like? Just kidding, we’re fine. Really. 🤥
But life WILL eventually return to normal – which means snoopers will be back, eager to find out everything you don’t want them to. So what is Apple doing about it?
Here’s the scoop. Someone found out a patent Apple quietly applied for back in 2019 has been approved. The patent contains a big clue about how gaze detection could be used to make secure iPhone, iPad or Mac displays that are harder for prying eyes to read. 👀
Gaze detection: What it does and how it could improve iPhone privacy
Gaze detection is a tech that, well, detects your gaze. It’s a way for your device to know which part of the display you’re looking at, which is already used for things like unlocking your iPhone with Face ID. 🔍
Gaze detection might sound a little weird, but experts reckon there are a bunch of possible uses we’ll see in the near future. Rumors suggest the tech could be used to check if you’ve read messages and notifications or even control text input when you’re filling in a form or editing a document. But the patent we’re talking about describes how new Apple phones and other devices could encrypt any text you aren’t looking at.
Imagine you’re reading an email on your iPhone and it knows which part of the message you’re up to. As you read, it automatically jumbles up the letters on other parts of the email, making life hell for any snoopers who are trying to read at their own pace. From your perspective, everything looks normal and you use your iPhone the same as always, but for people who aren’t registered with your Face ID? Snooping is a whole lot harder. 😵
When will iPhones get this new privacy feature?
Here’s the kicker: companies file patents all the time when researching and developing new tech, but the inventions don’t always end up seeing the light of day. It’s a way for the company to say “this tech could work, let’s file a patent in case we want to use it”. This patent for gaze-based encryption is very much a real application filed by Apple, but it doesn’t confirm if or when we’ll see it.
That said, we reckon Apple’s recent focus on protecting privacy beyond Touch ID and Face ID suggests there’s a good chance this feature will reach Apple iPhones, iPads and Macs in the near future. They’re already developing gaze detection for Face ID and rumored products like Apple Glasses, so half the work is already done.
Carrie is a problem-solving adventurer at Circles.Life. While she’s off-duty, she wears many other hats: does photography that #SparkTheOrdinary at @carriesimitaiji, writes on her lifestyle blog carriesim.com, and spread body positivity on her Instagram account @carriesim.