Stay on target
I said it when I wrote about the awful decision to remove the headphone jack, and I’ll say it again now: I like my iPhone a lot. However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that since there are no more obvious improvements left to be made to the device beyond better specs, Apple is making its phones worse in the attempt to make them different. The latest terrible-sounding iPhone feature? A mode designed specifically for use in movie theaters.
Some recently discovered 2014 Apple patents have been causing quite a controversy among film fans. The documents propose the idea of having users press a popcorn-shaped button to put their iPhone in “Theater Mode.” This would dim the screen, turn off sounds, disable certain wireless communication, and even let theater owners know who is being a respectful audience member in exchange for some reward.
This sounds like a good compromise between people rudely using their phones in theaters and those who want a completely phone-free movie-watching experience. But for true movie fans, myself included, this isn’t a conflict to compromise on. Even a phone with a dim screen is still a distraction in a dark movie theater. It’s worse than 3D! Plus, the point of a movie is to watch the movie and fully immerse yourself in the art, not split your attention between watching and texting.
You know who else is disappointed in Apple for potentially encouraging using phones in theaters? Tim League, the owner of the Alamo Drafthouse premium theater chain, who tweeted some not-so-nice things about Apple in response to this hypothetical feature. That’s not surprising. As I learned when I visited the Drafthouse’s recent New York expansion, the theater takes its no-talking policy very seriously. The PSAs they make with celebrities may be funny, but the message is no joke. Talk or use your phone, and you’ll get kicked. The only “Theater Mode” is turning your phone off.
This is only the latest battle in the war between phones and movie theaters. Last year AMC floated the idea of ruining certain screenings by making them phone-friendly for millennials or whatever. Fortunately, the company walked back the pitch after everyone told them how stupid it was. Hopefully, the same thing happens to this iPhone Theater Mode. But whatever Apple does, please don’t use your phone in a movie theater.