By Travis Johnson

This is rumour and conjecture at this point, but it’s a solid rumour, as it comes from frequent Apple tech source Sonny Dickson, who alleges that the new iOS will come with a silent, low light function to allow cultureless heathens to use their devices in cinemas, theatres and the like.

This is part of iOS 10.3, due to start hitting the public from January 10. Apple have neither confirmed or denied the leak, and other sources remain somewhat skeptical, but the function does fall within the realms of plausibility, if not social responsibility.

The issue of phone use in cinemas has been forefronted in the past year when American chain AMC pondered the notion of hosting special smartphone-friendly screening sessions to appeal to younger demographics, but it’s an issue that stretches back over a decade. FilmInk policy remains a firm “Not even if the place is on fire”, but we will concede that, with the ubiquity of the smartphone and similar devices, we may by a fading voice from a more civilised time.


The very notion of a Theatre Mode raises a number of interesting questions. How dim a screen is dim enough? Does the existence of such a mode override the social contract to be quiet and still in public performance and exhibition spaces (live music notwithstanding)? Is not the very action of using your phone disruptive of those around you, regardless of light? Are we in fact a society in terminal decline?

This is a contentious issue, obviously, and we’ll stay up all night with this story if we have to. In the meantime, what do you guys think?

  • Pauline Adamek
    6 January 2017 at 9:34 am

    Ugh. No. Just no. Light in a dark room is very distracting, even dimmed light.

    Why can’t ppl just watch and engage in the damn show for 1-2 hours, and quell their device addition?! Some even light up their phones during live theatre – it’s disgraceful and so disrespectful to the performers, let alone all the ppl around them.

  • Baz
    6 January 2017 at 9:49 am

    Theatre Mode should be enabled automatically as you enter a venue that transmits a specific identification signal.
    The end result being your phone becomes a brick until you leave.

    Stick that in your iOS.

  • James
    6 January 2017 at 10:42 am

    Drives me nuts at the cinema; it’s no problem at the drive-in however.

  • JenM
    6 January 2017 at 2:04 pm

    that can be good for deaf people – you can read subtitles/captions without disturbing other people…

  • Nick
    6 January 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Unless you are deaf, as Jen’s very good comment points out… if you’re using your phone in a theatre you’ve obviously wasted your money on the ticket and should just leave.

  • Spod3
    12 January 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Just install mobile phone jammers that cut off all signals in cinemas. You can buy these now if you know where to look.

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