Windows Phone devices could get smart enough to silence themselves and adjust their own screen brightness depending on its surroundings. That’s if a feature now patented by Microsoft makes into Windows 10 Mobile or a future operating system update.
News of what could be an upcoming Windows 10 Mobile feature spread after Microsoft was granted a patent for what it calls Inconspicuous Mode early this month.
Essentially, Inconspicuous Mode will turn on and automatically pare down the information on the Windows Phone lock screen. When Inconspicuous Mode is on, the Windows Phone lock screen will show less information. For example, a figure included in Microsoft’s patent application shows a Windows Phone lock screen as it would normally look and another with Inconspicuous Mode turned on. The version with Inconspicuous Mode on just as a clock, a solid color background and the time. Gone are the date, appointments and pending notifications. The patent covers screen brightness adjustment too.
Microsoft seems to be developing Inconspicuous Mode as a natural way to stop the annoyances that stem from carrying around a smartphone everywhere. In theory, Inconspicuous Mode would be perfect for someone who is in a movie theater but needs to check the time. It’d be great for traveling on planes too, where too much light makes seat neighbors a bit uncomfortable in the dark.
A Windows Phone’s sensors will be able to trigger Inconspicuous Mode, but a manual way of turning Inconspicuous Mode on and off is included in the patent filing too.
Some outlets are speculating that Inconspicuous Mode could be one of the features we see in Windows 10 Mobile. That’s what most people are now calling the version of Windows 10 Microsoft plans to put on tablets and smartphones later this year. Whether it’ll actually appear in Windows 10 Mobile is unclear though. Every patent filed with the United States Patent and Trade Office has a date and company information included in it.
That information is how we know Inconspicuous Mode is a patent owned by Microsoft. According to the document posted by the U.S.P.T.O, Microsoft actually filed for a patent on Inconspicuous Mode back in March of 2013. As such, it’s hard to claim that this could be coming to Windows 10 Mobile with no doubts. Windows Phone 8.1 launched in April of last year, giving Microsoft plenty of time to include Inconspicuous Mode in their operating system if it was something they actually planned on doing.
Microsoft is scheduled to talk more about Windows 10 on Wednesday. Today, we know almost nothing about Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft has already said that Windows 10 and Windows 10 mobile devices will all have one app store connecting them. We know more about Windows 10 for tablets and notebooks, 2-in-1s and desktops because Microsoft made a barebones version of it available to enthusiasts last year through the Windows Insider Program.
Windows 10 itself will include a lot of features that were inspired by Windows Phone. Cortana, Windows Phone’s personal assistant, is coming to Windows 10. So too are utilities Windows Phone owners use every day, like Battery Saver and Storage Sense.
We do know with some certainty that Windows 10 Mobile will replace two entire operating systems Microsoft has today. They are Windows Phone and Windows RT. According to Microsoft, any device that got the Windows Phone 8.1 update this past summer and fall can expect an upgrade to Windows Phone 10 when it arrives. It’s unclear how Microsoft will handle Windows RT upgrades, but it’s believed the same goes for those devices as well. Windows RT is the battery-sipping operating system that comes installed on Windows tablets like Microsoft’s on Surface 2.