Apple's "Theatre Mode" is Problematic for Broadway

Chris Peterson

OnStage  Founder & Editor-in-Chief

On January 10th, Apple is releasing it's latest update, iOS 10.3, which will surely get a ton of attention. While it will make a number of improvements to the poorly received 10.2, it's new feature could be distressing for Broadway theatres.  

One of the new features is titled "Theatre Mode". While it's not known what that exactly entails, tech insiders are saying it's basically an enhanced version of "Dark Mode". 

According to "tech leaker" Sonny Dickson, "Theatre Mode" would mean one button will automatically turn off things like sounds, notifications for calls and messages, haptic feedback, and the screen lighting up, making it the perfect setting for use in a darkened theatre. To make it cute, they apparently are making the icon in the shape of popcorn.

An example of what that might look like is below: 


While this function would certainly eliminate that annoying glow in a dark theatre, it doesn't solve the real problem of cell phone usage in Broadway theatres which is, the usage. 

The biggest issue I have is that it does nothing to discourage the use of a cellphone during a performance, it actually encourages it. To be clear, this wouldn't be like "Airplane Mode" which disables your cellular connection, this just makes your usage more discreet. 

While somewhat surprising that Apple would do this it's, yet again, another attack on live theatre from corporate America. From AT&T to Old Navy to Wells Fargo, we have seen repeated advertised encouragement to disrespect the theatre arts. 

Again, until January 10th, this is all speculation. However Broadway and theatres all over the country are fighting a losing battle against cellphone usage during performances. If these rumors are true, then Apple has just given the opposition a nuclear bomb.