'Theater Mode' Could Be Coming Soon to an iPhone Near You

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It wasn’t too long ago that loud-talkers and seat-kickers were the biggest annoyances moviegoers encountered at the cinema. Today they also have glowing blue smartphone screens to deal with. If you're of the opinion that movie-goers shouldn't be checking their Facebook likes during the show, you may not like this latest rumor surrounding the iPhone: As AppleInsider reports, the first beta release of iOS 10.3 may feature a "Theater mode."

The rumor was recently shared on Twitter by a regular Apple tipster named Sonny Dickson. According to his tweets, the setting will be available through a "popcorn-shaped" icon in the Control Center when the software update is supposedly released on January 10.

Beyond that small detail, Dickson doesn’t specify what exactly theater mode entails. According to The Guardian people are speculating that it might be a quick way to silence notifications and dim the screen. But even if the setting is able to keep surrounding viewers from being disturbed, some theater purists still aren’t happy about the message it sends. Empire editor Terri White told The Guardian, "I find it absolute madness that anybody would want to do anything other than turn their phone off. You can’t fully give yourself over to a film and lose yourself in the moment, which is the amazing thing about cinema, if your phone’s buzzing on your thigh."

Some patrons may want to keep their phones on in case of emergencies. But as Tom Philip of GQ points out, there are few scenarios that can’t wait 90 minutes to be taken care of. "Unless you are a high-ranking government official keeping track of a foreign coup or have a loved one in absolute, imminent danger, turn your phone off at the movies," he writes. And even in those rare situations when checking a text can’t wait, nothing’s stopping theatergoers from stepping outside to do so.

If the rumors are true, Apple won’t be the only big name who's picked a side in the phone off-or-on debate. Last April AMC Entertainment's CEO floated the idea of allowing phone-friendly screenings for Millennials. The proposal was met with immediate backlash, and AMC dropped it soon after. As you can see from the tweets below, the reactions surrounding the new rumor aren’t any more positive this time around:

[h/t AppleInsider]