Apple Said to be Testing Android-like Gesture Locks: Why You May Want to Keep Using a PIN

9to5Mac reports that:

Apple testing Android-like gesture-based lock screen for iOS

Apple currently provides a PIN numeric lock for the iPhone and iPad. Android phones have the PIN option plus an option to use a finger gesture over a 4 by 4 matrix of dots to secure a phone. Apple will probably have to offer this option just to give potential customers a checkbox to check off when comparing iOS devices to Android devices. However, I hope that most people will decide not to use this feature. Here’s what I learned after using a gesture lock on my Android phones for several months and speaking to other Android users.

1. The smudge mark left by fingers on a screen leave a trail that makes it easy to figure out how to unlock the phone if a very simple gesture is used. My informal discussions indicate that a significant percentage of people use a gesture that can be deciphered from the smudge trail. Frequent screen wiping can help reduce this problem. However, how many clean screens do you see on a daily basis?

2. Using a complex gesture reduces the probability of someone reading your smudge trail. However, it also makes unlocking the phone a slightly longer task that is prone to entry errors.

3. Depending on the quality of your screen, the condition of your fingertip (moist,etc.) and your current state of coordination, it can be a mulitple attempt task to unlock a phone. This can become very annoying.

After a few months, I gave up on gesture locks and went to a PIN security lock for my Android phones. I suspect many iPhone and iPad users will use the gesture lock for a while because of its initial novelty but will revert back to PINs eventually. I also suspect that some system administrators will enforce PIN only security locks for those who use their phones in an enterprise setting.