A new Apple patent application could see future devices from the company automatically lock themselves, alert their owners or even Apple should they be either used by an unauthorized person or modified in a non-permited way. Spotted by ArsTechnica, while the patent abstract describes a security-minded application - unauthorized use of the device, such as an iPhone, resulting in its rightful owner being notified via email, voicemail or other service - the full text also suggests that hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, swapping SIMs or moving the device away from a preset area could also trigger either lock-downs or selective feature blocks. In addition to full or partial blocks of this sort, the device could also take a photo of the person using the handset.
In a worst-case scenario, it's suggested, Apple could use the system outlined in the patent to monitor iPhone jailbreaking and unlocking, automatically blocking the handsets by remote, and even taking photos of the person modifying the smartphone. The patent also describes various methods by which the Apple device could track an "authorized" user, including voice analysis, heartbeat sensors, cameras, accelerometers and preconfigured codes.
However, full blocking would not fit in with the recent DMCA ruling that jailbreaking is legal, though Apple has said that doing so will void the warranty of the device. This new system could therefore alert Apple that such a modification has been made. Of course, there are practical applications as well: it could automatically change features and even user profiles depending on the person holding the device, handy for those wanting to share a single iPad among multiple members of the household.