Apple applies for scary iPhone patents

Apple has applied for a raft of patents that will have human rights hippies frothing at the mouth.

The new technologies - which, according to Apple, are only to be used in the event that your iDevice is lost or stolen - could be used for more nefarious purposes if the device fell into the wrong hands.

Adding to Apple's already implemented Find My iPhone software, which tracks mislaid gadgets using their own GPS capabilities, and Remote Wipe, which does what it says on the tin, the company has unveiled potential new tricks which could identify a thief by taking his picture or recording and analysing his voice.

Unauthorised use could also be detected by monitoring the current user's heartbeat and comparing it to the genuine cardiac signal of the proper owner.

It's not clear what would happen if the proper owner was having a heart attack and trying to call an ambulance at the time.

The patents also outline a procedure whereby a device can phone home to Apple if it is jailbroken or has the SIM card is removed.

A combination of GPS tracking and data from the device's motion sensors will even be able to identify which form of transport a moving iPhone is currently in, whether it be a train a plane or an automobile.

Of course all of these possible patents are pie in the sky at the moment - but the very fact that Apple is registering the technology will have the tinfoil hat brigade reaching for their green crayons.

And they may have a point. Apple itself probably doesn't have any intention of using gathered biometric data or stealthily-snapped pictures or covertly recorded voice for anything other than the security and protection of its users. But that doesn't mean that your particular country's increasingly heavy-handed government security agency, and every two-bit hacker on the planet - not to mention every voyeuristic perv - won't have a field day with access to these functions.

Let us know what you thinq in the comments below. You can sign in anonymously and we promise not to take retinal scans using your own webcam... honest!