The latest update to Apple's proprietary mobile operating system – iOS 10.3 – is just around the corner and with it a raft of new features are expected to be introduced to iPhones and iPads all over the world.
Foremost among these could be a much-touted 'Dark Mode' that will see the devices operate at a lower level of light than normal – and some concerns have been raised that this will effectively act as a 'Theatre Mode' used in cinemas and at stage plays.
The feature is intended to reduce the annoyance caused to film and theatre attendees caused by smartphones being checked by other patrons – illuminating their face and the space around them as they check for missed calls, text messages or social media updates.
Sonny Dickson – a consumer tech commentator who has leaked accurate information regarding Apple products in the past – indicated Theatre Mode would be introduced with iOS 10.3 and is something that can be switched on and off with a popcorn-shaped icon in the Control Centre, as is the case with Airplane Mode.
This was greeted with a degree of scepticism by another Apple rumour source AppleInsider, which speculated that the update would be tailored to iPads, rather than iPhones, which are more commonly used outside the home.
It was suggested that the function would work by disabling system sounds and haptic feedback, in addition to blocking incoming calls and messages and reduce initial screen brightness when a film is playing. It could also draw on a string of technologies patented by Apple starting from 2012, which might work together to allow for the automatic triggering of customised device settings based on a GPS position.
Sources do agree that the start date for the roll out of the update will be January 10th, so in any case users are likely to find out for themselves very soon.
Smartphone use in cinemas has proven something of a controversial issue recently, with AMC Theaters receiving a very mixed response when they announced the possibility of texting-friendly screenings of some films.
Chief executive officer of the cinema chain Adam Aron said: “When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don't ruin the movie, they hear 'please cut off your left arm above the elbow'.
“You can't tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That's not how they live their life,” he commented – although AMC has since backpedalled on these suggestions.