Is there really anything more irritating than sitting in the theater, 40 minutes into a movie you've been waiting to see for months, only to have some jerk two rows down checking their phone every five minutes? No, there isn't. So when rumors began to circulate about a new feature on the upcoming iOS update which will allow users to text, surf, and play with ease while watching the latest blockbuster, most were less than enthusiastic.
The rumor started after a credible #Apple source, Sonny Dickson, tweeted that the iOS update 10.3 beta 1 will come with a "Theater Mode," which will feature a "popcorn-shaped Control Center icon." Some have hoped that activating the mode would turn the iPhone off for a good two hours, but alas, this will probably not be the case. It's speculated that the mode will dampen screen lighting and turn off sound — something akin to a cross between Airplane mode and Night shift. While Sonny made no indication of how the mode would work, a 2012 article from Apple Insider reported that Apple had patented a technology which would "disable noise and/or light emanating from wireless devices (such as at a movie theater)."
So what's the problem? Well, let's think about this. Movie theaters are dark, and dark for a reason. Any small light source, however "dampened," is detectable and distracting. Secondly, while sometimes you just have to answer that call or reply to that text during a movie, you definitely do not need to browse Facebook or Tweet a running commentary — and while ticket prices are creeping up, why pay $12 to see a movie you ain't even gonna watch? Just the fact that this mode exists will encourage users to reach for their devices every time Facebook tells them to. It could even promote piracy, making filming movies or snapping pics easier than ever.
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Don't We Already Have A Theater Mode?
Cinemas, studios and cinephiles have all reacted to the new update, and as predicted, none of it is positive. Annapurna Pictures (Sausage Party, Her) tweeted:
Others have taken to mocking the concept, saying that the iPhone already has a theater mode that can be used at a moment's notice:
One Slate article even argued that an update might be good for theaters, encouraging people to use the mode instead of lighting up the room anyway — others disagreed:
While Apple want you to use your smartphone at any and all opportunities, some places should stay sacred. Sonny also tweeted that the iOS 10.3 beta 1 update is expected to be rolled out on January 10, so we will have to wait until then to see if this rumor has any weight to it. In the mean time, why not be a decent member of society and utilize that other theater mode while catching a movie this year.