Microsoft patents location-aware sound & display smartphone settings

Microsoft has applied to patent some new technology that will remove all notifications and adapt settings on your phone according to where you are and what you're doing.

Dubbed Inconspicuous Mode, the setting will detect the user's location based on GPS, NFC, or even the Wi-Fi MAC address and switch off all settings including GPS, Wi-Fi and alarms if they're likely to be asleep or in areas where phones aren't permitted, such as a library, cinema or on a plane.

Additional options include the ability to remove items off the home screen, replace the background image and leave just the clock remaining on the standby screen so you're not distracted by anything else.

It can also sync with your calendar information, so if it knows you're going to a meeting at a certain time, it will switch off everything, dim the screen and mute your device while you're busy.

It's pretty similar to the Do Not Disturb mode on Android devices, although that takes a lot more effort to set up and doesn't de-activate connections depending on the place or events noted in a user's diary.

Inconspicuous Mode could be switched off when people leave a venue, a meeting ends or they manually deactivate it, although this seems to go against the automatic nature of the feature.

Microsoft filed the patent in 2013, but it has only just been approved. Presumably, the tech will only be applied on Windows Phone devices, although if Google or Apple wanted to implement a similar solution, they will no doubt have to pay Microsoft to license it.

It's not clear whether Microsoft will start rolling out the technology to existing Windows Phone devices or if it will make its debut on the next version of Windows Phone - set to be Windows 10 - later this year.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.