Last summer, the ongoing debate about texting at the movies reared its head when it was reported that AMC Theatres were testing the waters on allowing texting at movies, because as head of AMC Entertainment honcho Adam Aron put it bluntly, “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.” The exhibitor quickly back-pedaled on those plans, and a made a firm commitment to keep their no-texting policy in place, but it looks like the conversation about this issue is far from over.

Rumors are flying that Apple will include something called “Theatre Mode” in their next iOS update. As the name suggests, it would be a mode that would block all notifications and incoming calls, but dim the screen on your phone or device to allow you to send a text, presumably discretely, without bothering anyone around you. Apple has had a patent on this kind of feature since 2012, describing how it works thusly: “While the user is in the movie theater, the mobile device deactivates its cellular communications interface and/or automatically sets the device to a silent mode. When the user leaves the movie theater, the portable device enables phone communications and/or restores the ringer setting to the setting utilized prior to the device’s deactivation.”

At quick glance, it sounds like Apple has figured out a solution to a problem, except that turning your phone off, or turning on the Do Not Disturb function all currently does the same thing….except for the texting part. But that raises the question: why does anybody need to send a text during a movie? If there’s an emergency, you’d be leaving the cinema anyway, and if you need to check on the kids at the home or find out what’s for dinner, I think it’s up the person who needs to send the text to leave the cinema to take care of business, and return when they’re done, rather than force those around them to endure the interruption to their viewing experience.

The argument might be that Apple’s “Theatre Mode” will work so well, that someone sitting beside you won’t notice you rummaging for your phone, holding the dim screen to your face, and then using your thumbs in a flurry to type out “lol this movie sux.” And even if it does work nearly invisibly, there will be those audience members who think that if someone else can send a text, so can they, and it won’t take much for non-iOS devices to also start lighting up cinemas.

This generalization that millennials are unable to sit still for two hours sells an entire demographic short; believe it or not, people of all ages enjoy the moviegoing experience just fine. There are some who will say that people live tweet TV shows, so why not movies? Well, when someone is live tweeting a TV show, they are interrupting their own viewing, not that of everyone around them.

At any rate, this is still just a rumor, but we’ll know for sure when the beta version of Apple’s iOS 10.3 rolls out on January 10th. [Daily Mail]

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  • Javier Alvarado

    Dumb idea.

  • David Hillier’s suitcase

    I’m not sure what it’s like in other countries, but in England multiplex style cinemas are becoming unbearable with kids using their phones and chatting loudly during films. Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but when did it become socially acceptable to talk and text during movies?