Microsoft files patent for "inconspicuous mode" on phones

Often you'll find that Microsoft has some interesting ideas for what it wants to put into their smartphone technology, and occasionally this tech makes its way into a patent filing. Way back in July 2011 (and only made public today), Microsoft filed a patent for an interesting "inconspicuous mode" for smartphones, which appears to remove many of the distractions of the "standard" mode to be "less obtrusive".

The unsurprisingly complicated patent filing describes a system where, when the phone is placed into inconspicuous mode, the screen brightness may be dimmed, sound events may be disabled, and information/notifications could be removed from view. The patent references a scenario where you may be in the cinema, and to prevent disturbing other cinema patrons, you would enable this inconspicuous mode.

Apart from manually enabling the mode, the patent also describes how the phone could use various sensors to automatically turn it on; for example it could use the ambient light sensor to sense when the phone is in a dark room, after which it enables inconspicuous mode. The homescreen or lockscreen may feature simply the time on a dark background, removing other distractions from view.

Now this is just a patent filing which doesn't appear to have been accepted just yet, and even then it's still unclear if this sort of mode would ever make it into a future mobile OS. The images, such as the one above, definitely depict Windows Phone as using the inconspicuous mode, but again there's no guarantees we'll ever see it in the flesh.

Source: USPTO via: Engadget

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

1.4 million Xbox 360s sold in US during December

Next Story

Amazon moves your old CDs into their cloud with AutoRip

34 Comments

View more comments

rfirth said,

Some people don't have the pleasure of the ability to leave their phones at home. Some people are on-call 24/7.

If your job is so important (first responders come to mind) that you can't turn your phone OFF for the duration of a movie, then you should choose an activity where if you have to check a status or leave the venue doing so doesn't impact the 100 or so other people that paid to see the show.

thenonhacker said,
But that will make the whole phone look invisible, making it harder to find.

I put my phone in Airplane mode the other day. Thoroughly disappointed.

apart from this, they need to focus on offering a way to better organize the home screen.

Right now the home screen is cluttered and has zero organization, besides clumping together things of similarity. Its just a big mess IMO.

LG optimus 7.

auziez said,
apart from this, they need to focus on offering a way to better organize the home screen.

Right now the home screen is cluttered and has zero organization, besides clumping together things of similarity. Its just a big mess IMO.

LG optimus 7.

Whaaaaaat?

seanv said,

Whaaaaaat?

Let me shorten that for you. More organization on the home screen.

Unless of course you consider changing tile sizes "organization". I look towards the iphone and android as examples - they offer multiple screens to pin different items, of which is your choice - customization.

Don't read this unless you don't want to hear me ramble on. But my homescreen I have to scroll down quite a bit, multiple times, to get to what I want. On-top of that, every tile is placed so closely together that it almost appears cluttered together, mix that with every one of them streaming 'live tile' information, and it turns into a confusing mess. People keep saying "make a tile a folder", instead I say just make multiple screens to pin tiles to. Ontop of the multiple screens, they should have a similar bar at the bottom to easily access most used items... like the iphone, like android.

There is a reason why WP is not selling as well as its competitors.

its just a big problem with WP, limited ability for customization and organization. Pair that with 'ease of access' to most used apps.

auziez said,

Let me shorten that for you. More organization on the home screen.

Your comment is longer than your previous comment which you said you were going to shorten.

thenonhacker said,
It's just the same. Scroll vertically or scroll paginated sideways.

well I'm just giving an example. Many others exist, just that I want more organization.

Like windows 8 you can clump together tiles for your own personal category, and like on xbox you have sections like "social" and such. Currently on wp, its just put everything together, seems like it could use something... not necessarily different screens.

auziez said,

Let me shorten that for you. More organization on the home screen.

Unless of course you consider changing tile sizes "organization". I look towards the iphone and android as examples - they offer multiple screens to pin different items, of which is your choice - customization.

Don't read this unless you don't want to hear me ramble on. But my homescreen I have to scroll down quite a bit, multiple times, to get to what I want. On-top of that, every tile is placed so closely together that it almost appears cluttered together, mix that with every one of them streaming 'live tile' information, and it turns into a confusing mess. People keep saying "make a tile a folder", instead I say just make multiple screens to pin tiles to. Ontop of the multiple screens, they should have a similar bar at the bottom to easily access most used items... like the iphone, like android.

There is a reason why WP is not selling as well as its competitors.


I agree to some extent with this, a solution i briefly thought of a while back is to use the unused left scroll. Right now we have scroll right to reveal the full apps list but nothing to the left, this could be another screen which leads to another screen etc. Or just allow some form of grouping where the boarder is thicker horizontally to signify a break.

I tend to disagree, i buy WP8 as the home screen is the best on the market. BUT as scroll right is used to find all apps, scroll left should be used for something special, quick access to phone and people for example.

if your home screen is a mess have a serious think about which ones you use so regularly they need to be on your home screen

foaf said,
I tend to disagree, i buy WP8 as the home screen is the best on the market. BUT as scroll right is used to find all apps, scroll left should be used for something special, quick access to phone and people for example.

if your home screen is a mess have a serious think about which ones you use so regularly they need to be on your home screen

Well, to me live tiles are perfection to what a phone should have... its why I love wp. But I seriously was let down by the limited change to the home screen on wp8, just was expecting something more, maybe I was just too optimistic.

But I agree with scroll left being used as something, I heard notification center was in the works... that's always an option as well I suppose.

duddit2 said,

I agree to some extent with this, a solution i briefly thought of a while back is to use the unused left scroll. Right now we have scroll right to reveal the full apps list but nothing to the left, this could be another screen which leads to another screen etc. Or just allow some form of grouping where the boarder is thicker horizontally to signify a break.

I completely agree with using up scroll left, or the grouping.

I did some mockups, posted them here: http://s1100.beta.photobucket....244.jpg.html?sort=3&o=0

Anyways, I liked what HTC did with one of their tiles... so I just made the time bigger to see what it would look like, as well I added the date next to it just to fill in the gap. Its only a mockup, but its basically just an example of how much they could change. also wouldn't mind custom backgrounds similar to w8

This feature would be handy as. Whilst watching the Hobbit I wanted to pull my phone out to see how much longer till it was over but the phones screen is pretty bright so I held off but with this feature I wouldnt have to, I could know exactly how much more torture im in for!

I wouldn't run out and buy a new phone for the feature any more than I would buy a watch but invariably on a 12-24 month basis phones get updated and would be a handy little feature to have, I put it in the same category as the reply via sms to incoming phone calls option.

BlackBerry's have done this for years its called Bedside Mode. Truns the screen black only leaves the time and turns off all notifications except any alarms you have set.

Commenting is disabled on this article.