I have just started to discover the power of Google Maps and BlackBerry Maps on my Bold 9000. These applications work so seamlessly with other applications in the BlackBerry Smartphone. On recent trips to different towns I started to use the GPS to navigate the way. The first and most annoying thing I have noticed is that the company I work for has a (good and required) security policy that auto locks my device after 10 minutes. “So how am I suppose to use this GPS without touching it and violate the distracted driving law?” The first thought to mind was an idea that when using a GPS program the device would ignore the auto lock command. After security ran through my head I knew this would be a bad idea for a few reasons. If you have your device in your window at a gas station and you’re filling up your tank, along comes Mr. Thief and sticks their hand in and yoink your unlocked device is gone. The BlackBerry will stay unlocked as long as the GPS is up when not in use. The other bad idea to that would be a BlackBerry smart thieve would just activate your GPS after they stole your device to keep it unlocked until they we able to retrieve what they required.
I had to come up with a better idea then just keeping the BlackBerry unlocked. The idea came to me the other day and it was so simple I almost ignore my own idea. The idea was better found by changing the question to “Why does RIM have to switch the screen off when the device is locked?”. RIM could still lock the device after 10 minutes according to policy but a program could still update the screen. With this method the phone would continue to be secure but users would not need to worry about policy auto locking the device when they are using programs like GPS or media info showing when driving. This would need to be an open API that had a simple binary value of 0 or 1 The user could even set this in the program with a check mark with the simple question of “Show application if device is locked when active” If this application is active when auto lock triggers the screen will continue to display its information. All developers could then design their application for a screen saver type of mode to show their application screen. This would not only be great for GPS, BlackBerry Music player but applications for Geocaching, you could set your coordinates into the program you know you have to walk for a few KM so you holster your BlackBerry . You could pull it back out 20 minutes later going down a trail and still see the map or compass direction on the device without needing to unlock it just to see how far you still have to go. Any key press would bring up the unlock dialog as usual when the device is locked.
I would like to see any input others have on this and how we could make a better secure device but keep our functionality.
Update 2011.02.24 – So from installing BES 5 I have learned that there is a new security policy you can set that specifies if 3rd party applications have the ability to reset the timeout count. Since setting this I am able to GPS, watch podcast videos without the screen locking up. YES!!!. This is again a work around and I don’t know how I feel about the device possibly staying unlocked as long as a user has a 3rd party application running. There is also a forced timeout that cannot be reset that you can specify so that no matter what after x minutes even if there is activity it will lock the device. My Initial thoughts are still a good one, force the lock of the device after 10 minutes but leave the screen up to continue to display GPS or Album Art etc but only for non sensitive programs like music or GPS apps. Thanks commenter “Torch 11” for making me look!