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Today in Apple’s history: Apple invents ‘unlock slider’


December 23, 2005 Apple is filing a patent application for its cult gesture “slide to unlock” for the iPhone.

At the moment, the iPhone remains a secret research project. However, the ability to unlock the device by sliding your finger on it signifies Apple’s great ambitions for its smartphone. Cupertino wants the iPhone to be easy to use, intuitive and technologically ahead of the competition.

‘Slide to unlock’ sums up the iPhone’s philosophy

Given all that the iPhone can do, it sounds silly to say that the “unlock slide” left a gigantic impression on me when I first saw it. But it is.

During the 1990s and 2000s, as mobile phones became ubiquitous, a surprising amount of time and money was invested in finding an elegant solution for unlocking phones. These patents bore awkward titles such as “Apparatus and Method for Preventing Unintentional Operation of Manual Input Devices”. But everyone mentioned the same thing: how to stop the terrible “ass dialing”.

Most smartphone manufacturers have circumvented the problem of unlocking by implementing specific push-button sets. It is unlikely that users will accidentally enter these combinations and initiate an unwanted call. But the iPhone, of course, came with only one button on its main screen: the Home button.

With the “slide to unlock”, Apple devised a method that immediately conveyed the simplicity, elegance and superior touch recognition technology that the company wanted to demonstrate with the iPhone.

Drag iPhone to unlock movement: Clean, simple genius

Apple's sliding unlock movement: great things start with simple sketches
Great things start with simple sketches.
Photo: USPTO

As with the best elements of the graphical user interface, “unlock slide” served as a metaphor for real-life action. The gesture mimicked pulling the latches back over the door to unlock them. The sensitivity of the movement and the way the screw would immediately return to its starting position if you failed to perform the movement properly gave it the kind of “fiddle factor” that former Apple design chief Jony Ive always loved.

With iOS 10, Apple has finally sent the cult gesture of “sliding to unlock” to a digital pile of junk. The enthralling feature when Apple introduced the original iPhone in 2007 showed that the days when Apple introduced Touch ID biometric authentication with the iPhone 5s 2013 are numbered. Apple followed suit with the Face ID face recognition system in 2017. .

Nevertheless, the “slide to unlock” patent appeared in the long-running lawsuit between Samsung and Apple, which ended in 2018.





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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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