updated 08:25 pm EST, Sat February 19, 2011
Apple patents Safe Deposit Box for Mac OS X
Apple has quietly filed for a patent that could hint at Mac OS X Lion getting a built-in cloud backup feature. The app, labeled Safe Deposit Box in the patent, would at a minimum let users drag and drop files into an optionally encrypted space that would keep them safe without needing a whole-volume protection system like FileVault. Preferences, however, would let users not only keep a local copy but push it out to a "server bank or cloud storage" for off-site backup.
If users wanted, they could prioritize files through a rating system that would automatically determine what level of security and backup they get. Security would be relatively fine-grained as well. It could lock down files on a basic level with encryption, but it could also deliberately obfuscate the file name and only associate it with the original for the verified owner. Apple would give users a degree of flexibility over how long the Safe Deposit Box would stay open with a timeout monitor that could force users to login again after a set point in time.
As with most of its patents, Apple isn't necessarily going to use the technology, but its specificity as a Mac OS X app would imply it has been in active consideration. It was filed in August 2009, just as Apple was releasing Snow Leopard, and might be in time for the summer 2011 release of Lion.
The service could potentially obviate the need for cloud backup tools such as Carbonite on the Mac and would give Apple an edge over Microsoft. Users on Windows 7 have official tools such as SkyDrive but don't have a full OS-layer remote backup so far. [via Patently Apple]