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.