A new jailbreak utility called Stride, which is available in the jailbreak app store called Cydia for $2.99, brings natural drawing to iPhone unlocking. Rather than prompting users for a PIN or alphanumeric passcode, jailbroken iOS users can now draw their gestures on the phone’s display to unlock their devices. The feature is similar to what Google offers users of its platform, but goes beyond what is available on the Android operating system where users must confine their drawings by connecting any of 9 dots arranged in a grid. With Stride, users can draw anywhere on the screen–no dots to connect.
By allowing more free-form drawings, signatures, and doodles to unlock a smartphone, Stride can potentially enhance the security of a device as patterns may be easier to crack than natural drawings. Users have two ways to unlock their phones. The first is to use Stride to unlock the layer that would allow for PIN entry, giving users two layers of security, and the second would merely unlock the phone after the correct drawing has been recognized. If for whatever reason the system fails to recognize your drawing to unlock the device, you can tap a button to enter a PIN manually as a backup.
Pattern and gesture-based unlocking have proven to be a safe way to secure phones. Recently, in a crime case, the FBI had to turn to Google to decipher and crack the pattern unlocking on an Android smartphone where that security feature was employed by a user. Security experts, however, have argued over the reliability of pattern unlocking in the past. Experts caution users that fingerprints and oil traces left on the screen as a result of repeatedly unlocking a phone by gesture could be retraced by others, noting that users should wipe their phones clean periodically to avoid having their gesture or pattern unlocked retraced. To a degree, the oleophobic coating on the iPhone’s display should help to contain some of those concerns.
To use Stride, users do have to have a jailbroken device. As always, there are some inherent risks associated with jailbreaking, which may include other security vulnerabilities.