At this point, seeing or hearing other audience members using their cell phones during a theatrical film screening is just something most people have come to live with. The majority of people still find it rude and annoying, but the practice doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. With that said, should the focus of potential solutions shift to making phone use during a movie less obtrusive, instead of continuing with seemingly failed attempts to discourage their use in theaters altogether? It's a valid question, if not a popular one.
For instance, just last year, AMC Theaters floated the idea of allowing texting during select movie screenings, in a bid to lure in more customers. The plan was met with a considerable amount of backlash and criticism, leading AMC to abandon the idea for the time being. Still, one assumes that efforts to better integrate phone usage during theatrical screenings will continue, and it might be only a matter of time until texting at the theater is considered more socially acceptable.
According to a Tweet sent out by regular Apple scooper Sonny Dickson, the tech giant may soon be set to try its hand at, if not solving the problem of phones being used in theaters, making the habit less conspicuous. According to Dickson, Apple's upcoming iOS 10.3 update will include a new feature called Theater Mode, that will be triggered by pressing a popcorn-shaped icon in the iPhone control center.
iOS 10.3 to feature a new Theatre mode - will include a new popcorn-shaped Control Center icon.
— Sonny Dickson (@SonnyDickson) December 30, 2016
Here's another idea: JUST TURN YOUR PHONE OFF FOR TWO HOURS AND WATCH THE MOVIE https://t.co/q9eMrik1CW
— Alamo Drafthouse NYC (@AlamoNYC) January 3, 2017
Dickson didn't elaborate as to what exactly Theater Mode does, but speculation is running rampant that the feature is tied to a recent patent filed by Apple concerning how iPhone use could be made better suited for the dark theater environment. The patent describes Apple's potential theater mode as muting sounds, disabling notifications for incoming calls and messages, and making the screen dimmer. Then, upon leaving the theater, the mode could be disabled and all settings and functions would return to normal. It's worth noting that all of those goals can also be accomplished by simply turning one's phone off during the movie, which didn't go unnoticed by Alamo Drafthouse (above).
For its part, Apple has yet to confirm or deny Dickson's claims concerning a potential Theater Mode. Judging by the reaction toward AMC's idea of encouraging texting during some of its screenings, though, it's hard to imagine that if they move forward with such a mode, Apple won't soon be inundated with angry messages urging them to reconsider.
Screen Rant will have more information for you on Apple's Theater Mode plans as they are made available.