One change that came with iOS 4.2 that has gone down like a lead balloon with many iPad users is the switch of the Orientation Lock hardware button (the one just above the volume control on the top right-hand side of the iPad). It is now a mute switch rather than an orientation lock.
This is despite the fact that for a tablet device like the iPad, one that even Steve Jobs talks about as an ‘intimate’ device and that many of us use while laying in bed or on a couch etc, the orientation lock is a hugely useful control. One that most of us would like to have as easily accessible as possible – just as it was originally via a hardware button.
Now that same hardware button is a mute switch, and not even a very good one at that. It’s a mute switch for system sounds only – so if you toggle it off you won’t hear a sound when you send a mail or receive new mail, for example, but you will still hear audio in a game or a music app. So it’s a half-assed mute switch positioned directly above the volume control, which provides a perfectly effective real mute switch – just hold down the volume lower part of the volume control for two seconds and you mute all sound.
This change by Apple just seems flat-out dumb from every angle. Gizmodo has a good post up on this subject, noting that all of their staff who tested the new iOS 4.2 in its beta stages hated it. And offering a scathing verdict on the new method used for toggling the orientation lock:
Now, users should click twice on the home button, slice their finger left and tap to lock the screen. Who the hell designed this bloody behavior? The developers of Mortal Kombat? Why not use the tap, tap, swipe left, swipe down, draw circle, double-click FINISH HIM! combo? Because that would be just as stupid as changing the widely known—and widely beloved—behavior of this switch to the mute function, which was already well served by the volume keys.
Gizmodo has also proposed a ‘petition’ against this change. Here’s how that works:
So here’s the deal, if you are one of the six million iPad users out there who, like me and everyone with iPads I know, loved the lock button to actually lock the screen, please write:
Hey #Apple, change the #iPad switch back to screen lock!
Write it in the comments or in your Twitter or Facebook pages. And please pass this petition around, spam your friends with iPads. We need the screen lock back where it belongs.
I’ve already tweeted it, and I really hope if enough people do this, or express their views via Apple Support discussions and feedback forms, maybe we’ll see this change reversed in a future update.