Since the iPad launched, the button at the top of the right-hand side of the iPad has been used as an orientation lock. Under the iOS 4.2 betas, the button has been changed to a mute switch – and apparently that change is going to become a permanent one when iOS 4.2 is released to the public next month.
According to a report at 9to5Mac, Steve Jobs has confirmed the permanent change in another of his direct email exchanges with a user.
So in iOS 4.2, the top right button will be a Mute button and the Orientation Lock will be toggled via a button in the Multitasking Bar, just to the right of the iPod controls.
When I first saw this change in the first iOS 4.2 beta I thought it might be a nice change, but I’ve come to agree with those who commented on it here – it’s not a good change. Orientation Lock is much more commonly needed on the iPad, and the hardware button is a far easier way to get to it for quick toggling.
Also, there’s already a perfectly good and quick way to mute the volume on the iPad – just by holding down the Volume down switch for a second or so.
Obviously Apple are able to change hardware button functions via software updates, so hopefully they will reconsider this one at some point.