Possible Apple ‘theatre mode’ could help people use phones in cinemas

4 Jan 2017

Person using phone at the cinema. Image: Nestor Rizhniak/Shutterstock

In what would surely be a very controversial move from Apple, the possible addition of a ‘theatre mode’ option in the next iteration of iOS would allow someone to look at their phone during a film in the cinema.

While complaints surrounding the latest versions of iOS rumble on regarding its battery life and other niggling problems, we are already being told about some other possible new features for iOS 10.3.

But worryingly for cinemagoers, there is one addition that could make future trips to the local theatre a nightmare if you can’t stand the idea of someone looking at their phone in the cinema.

According to Apple insider Sonny Dickson, this latest possible feature will be called ‘theatre mode’ and it will appear on screen as a popcorn icon.

Little is known regarding the exact details, but suggestions would indicate something similar to the existing do not disturb feature, with additional darkening of the screen.

While Dickson himself has not commented on what exactly this feature would do, possibilities could be found in a relatively recent Apple patent that was posted in 2012.

Fixing the 30pc bug

As part of that patent, the feature could be controversially controlled by the cinema itself.

The patent reads: “While the user is in the movie theatre, the mobile device deactivates its cellular communications interface and/or automatically sets the device to a silent mode.

“When the user leaves the movie theatre, the portable device enables phone communications and/or restores the ringer setting to the setting utilised prior to the device’s deactivation.”

The first beta version of iOS 10.3 is expected to be released on 10 January, according to Dickson, but a smaller update is also likely to drop, to fix important issues.

The biggest issue for many users is the so-called ‘30pc bug’ that has seen a large number of iPhone users suddenly finding their phone dying, despite it showing 30pc battery remaining.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic