A patent filing
published last week show that Apple is considering image and object-based passwords to make their mobile devices more secure.
The filing is a patent for "image-based authentication" and would require a user of a mobile device to identify an object or person on their lock screen in order to user their device.
According to the filing, in order to grant access to any of the services provided by a computing device, the computing device displays to the user one or more images that are stored on the computing device. The user would have to select the correct description of the object from a multiple-choice list
in order to gain access to the computing device. The image displayed would be different every time. As with password prompt questions on websites, the device owner would have to choose the images and answers when registering the device before use.
The computing device is not required to be connected to any network at the time of authentication. Authentication data that is associated with object(s) in each displayed image may have been established previously by another computing device and then provided to the computing device.
In January, Google published a white paper that explored the possibility of replacing passwords altogether with a physical key that would plug into a device's USB port in order to provide authentication. Rumor has it that Apple is also experimenting with fingerprint recognition sensors in a bid to eliminate text-based passwords and authentication.
However, the patent filing is dated August 2011 and appeared just this week. So we cannot be sure that the idea will find its way to market.