Apple has been granted a patent by the USPTO for a handheld that identifies users based on how they hold their device, as first noted by Engadget. The technology uses capacitive sensors to pick a user and load their profile with customized settings and preferences. A more important application would be creating virtual button panels positioned according to how the user is holding the device, meaning the user could hold it any way he or she wants. This could reduce human error, such as touching parts of the user interface accidentally.

The patent describes the technology as "a sensor arrangement comprising a grid of capacitive sensing points configured to generate a pixilated image of a hand of a user in contact with the handheld device; and a controller configured to determine an identity of the user based on the pixilated image of the user's hand generated by the sensor arrangement, and configure the handheld device in response to the identity determination according to user settings stored in a user profile associated with the determined identity."

Last month, Apple applied for a patent titled "Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device," allowing the company to identify users based on their images, voice recordings, and even their unique heartbeat patterns. The technology would allow the user to be flagged as an unauthorized user. Then, Apple's software could activate the device's camera, capture geotagged images, as well as log keystrokes and phone calls, which could be sent to a remote server. The user's sensitive data could also be backed up to a remote server and then deleted remotely, once unauthorized access is detected.