It looks like the crafty folks at Google have decided to "head Apple off at the pass", when it comes to Apple's slide-to-unlock patent disputes. Google engineers and/or patent experts have just filed for a patent on a new way to unlock devices.
In case you haven't followed the Apple vs. the "world" news much, Apple is suing Samsung and Motorola for various violations of a "slide-to-unlock" patent, that many people feel is a bogus patent to begin with. Google isn't having any of that though, and instead of needlessly fighting potentially wasteful battles on that front, they are "going over the top" and skipping the issue altogether in the future. Their new patent application is for an "Input to Locked Computing Device" method of locking and unlocking your device. Here's a quick quote from Engadget's article with some more details,
Clever Google. Very clever......the application claims a method for a device unlocking process using one or more user inputs while simultaneously executing a command -- like calling a specific contact or opening an application. Those user inputs can take the form of passcodes, touch and drag, or audio commands. While the application's drawings depict such a system on a phone, it claims an unlocking system for desktops and laptops as well, so it could easily find its way onto a Chromebook or two.