Let Apple keep its one-function slide to unlock – Android’s been doing it better since day one. And not just in the basic screen unlock – the pattern lock screen that replaces a PIN or password with a custom 9-dot pattern is a popular way for security-conscious users to quickly and easily access their phone. Now Google has been granted a patent on that particular action, and one more for good measure.

Not only does the patent make sure that pattern unlock won’t find its way into the next version of iOS (cough, notifications, cough) it might show some of the future of Android as well. In addition to the standard unlock, Google submitted art for “Automatic Derivation of Analogous Touch Gestures From A User-Defined Gesture.” According to the submitted diagrams, drawing patterns at a different location, or perhaps just different patterns entirely, would allow the user to perform phone actions while staying locked. For example: right now when the pattern lock is used, it’s impossible to pause or advance a music track without first putting in the pattern. But if the patent goes into practice, you cold draw shifted or moved pattern to pop up a basic music widget and pause the song, then put your phone away, without ever fully unlocking the screen.

We haven’t seen this feature in our numerous hands-on features with the new Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich, but considering the care that’s been added to this patent, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if it showed up in the next version of Android. As someone who uses the pattern unlock on every phone I use and test, I can say that it’s an exciting little development. Android Jelly Bean, anyone?

[via 9t05Google]