updated 07:07 am EST, Fri January 11, 2013
Mode automatically reduces screen contents, brightness
Microsoft has filed a patent application for a mode that will make a smartphone less obtrusive in certain situations. The application for "Inconspicuous Mode," filed in July 2011, would reduce the amount of information on screen, as well as lowering sound volumes and altering other phone settings, depending on the environment the phone finds itself in.
Screen brightness and sound would instantly be lowered, or in the instance of audio, potentially turned off altogether, when the mode commences, and the example home screen supplied by Microsoft shows a reduction of on-screen information from the full time and date, appointments, update notifications and even the wallpaper, down to just the current time and a symbol showing the handset is in the Inconspicuous Mode itself. While invokable by the user, the mode could be automatically triggered by certain world conditions, such as being in a dark room like a movie theater or bedroom, but ZDNet writes the user can still override all or part of the mode when needed.
As in previous patent applications, it isn't clear if the mode will make its way into production devices, but considering it is software-based and requiring relatively little in the way of hardware requirements, it is possible that if Microsoft does not add the system to Windows Phone, an independent developer may create their own version on other platforms.