Does HTC's Face Unlock Patent Mean Android In-Fighting?

Illustration for article titled Does HTC's Face Unlock Patent Mean Android In-Fighting?

HTC has been awarded a patent for a technology that would let you unlock your smartphone or tablet with your face. However, Face Unlock is already a feature on Android that first appeared on Ice Cream Sandwich. Does this mean a war is brewing among the Android crowd?

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The patent covers the use of "biometric data" to enter a device. That could be either the image of your face or a fingerprint.

Interestingly enough, HTC actually filed the patent back in November 2008. Google's rollout of Android 4.0 began last October. There is, however, a slight difference between HTC's patent and the Ice Cream Sandwich feature. They both allow you to type in a password to unlock your device if it doesn't recognize your face. But HTC provides that the unknown mug be stored on the list of faces allowed to enter the phone.

Considering how patent-happy OEMs have been lately, this could signal a fight. If there is a battle, it would likely be between HTC and direct competitors like Samsung, rather than with Google. Though if anything, HTC would probably look to profit off of licensing fees.
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DISCUSSION

MichaelScrip
Michael Scrip

War? It's only just begun...

Amazon forks Android... rebrands it (no mention of Google at all)... and sells a ton of tablets.

You can create a store outside of the Google universe to sell apps and whatnot... totally bypassing Google's 30%

Samsung just announced their own ad network to go head-to-head with Google.

Damn... in a couple years we won't even recognize Android... and what will Google have to show for it?