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Microsoft Files Patent for "Inconspicuous Mode" on Phones

By - Source: Engadget | B 14 comments

"Inconspicuous mode" may dim down your display and sound automatically.

Smartphones can do a lot of things but the ability for one to inconspicuously check their phone during inconvenient times… say, during a movie? That hasn't really been done. Sure, there's always dialing back the brightness and the sound before the movie starts, but that requires foresight that a chronic text fiend might not have before the screening. And for some, maybe Les Mis is just so good that they have to tell everyone about it on Facebook.

Microsoft's potential "inconspicuous mode" is right up their alley, then. Recently, the company filed a patent with the USPTO, allowing a phone to switch from regular use to a dimmed display and muted sound. Other things considered in the patent are decreasing the number of notifications, changing background display to be something more discreet, and possibly even brightness detection to allow auto-switching into the mode.

According to a Microsoft spokesperson who spoke to Engadget, so far, there isn't an "inconspicuous mode" and the company "regularly applies for and receives patents," meaning there's no guarantee the mode will make it onto Windows phone. However, if it does, it certainly will be a neat feature, particularly for those moviegoers who really need active social media interaction for their full cinematic experience.

 

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 14, 2013 7:27 AM
    What's so hard about using your phone with the sound turned off? Or turning the brightness down? Or maybe just watching the movie your paid for? I don't get it.
Other Comments
  • -6 Hide
    halcyon , January 14, 2013 7:04 AM
    Could be useful...but needs to be on Android. Why couldn't Samsung have thought of this.
  • Display all 14 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    contentsmayvary , January 14, 2013 7:21 AM
    Prior art exists, such as:

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.GriggSoft.TheaterMode&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5HcmlnZ1NvZnQuVGhlYXRlck1vZGUiXQ..
  • 14 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 14, 2013 7:27 AM
    What's so hard about using your phone with the sound turned off? Or turning the brightness down? Or maybe just watching the movie your paid for? I don't get it.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 14, 2013 7:29 AM
    lol @ that hack job of an app. An app to dim the phone? And a _future_release_ of the app will include profiles? For a phone that ALREADY has user-settable profiles?

    I hope whoever wrote that is making money from fools, because to plop that app out there for free is to make a fool of the author.
  • 3 Hide
    fnh , January 14, 2013 7:51 AM
    I thought the dimmed screen feature on my Samsung Focus was already an 'inconspicuous mode'. Though an ability to match volume levels to ambient levels would be most welcome.
  • 0 Hide
    contentsmayvary , January 14, 2013 7:53 AM
    @Xperiabaddphone: Yeah, looks like a crap app. That's irrelevant. I bet it still works better than the NOT YET EVEN EXISTING feature for which MS has applied for a patent. :) 

    See, the point is that there is prior art for the proposed feature, but I guess all you heard was a whooshing sound just now?
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 14, 2013 8:11 AM
    Prior art does account for "quality" broadly defined. Don't know what patent process you're referring to here.
  • 0 Hide
    Camikazi , January 14, 2013 8:16 AM
    Motorola Smart Actions can do this and I'm sure there are a few other Smart Actions like programs that have profiles that can do this as well, nothing new.
  • 1 Hide
    house70 , January 14, 2013 10:30 AM
    "...and possibly even brightness detection to allow auto-switching into the mode."
    So, if your phone is in your pocket (not a very bright environment), you miss your notifications because the sound was muffled?
    That's gonna work out great.
  • 1 Hide
    chill1221 , January 14, 2013 4:04 PM
    Can people really not sit through a movie without the need to get on their phone? That's kinda sad if you think about it...
  • 1 Hide
    classzero , January 14, 2013 4:45 PM
    halcyonCould be useful...but needs to be on Android. Why couldn't Samsung have thought of this.

    Samsung will copy, er I mean innovate this.
  • -1 Hide
    halcyon , January 14, 2013 6:07 PM
    @Chill1221
    The young folks today often feel the need to be connecting to each other non stop. Weird but it's the world we're in.

    @Classzero
    Samsung's version would likely be able to differentiate between being in a pocket and being in a dark theater.
  • 0 Hide
    anti-painkilla , January 14, 2013 7:01 PM
    Does this even need a patent? It is just a new profile...
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