Apple confirms iPhone alarm bug, says wait for tomorrow and it'll fix itself

That pesky iPhone bug that caused one-time alarms not to go off in 2011 has been confirmed by Apple (phew!), as has the "fix" -- either set a recurring alarm or wait, as it corrects itself on January 3rd and works properly thereafter:

We're aware of an issue related to non repeating alarms set for January 1 or 2. Customers can set recurring alarms for those dates and all alarms will work properly beginning January 3.

But were they aware of it prior to New Year, i.e. could they have had time to release an iOS 4.2.2 bug fix and spared users the inconvenience? If not, given this is the second major bug in the iOS 4 alarm system, hopefully they're redoubling their QA efforts in that area so we aren't hit again this spring. Either way, are you happy with the statement? Should Apple have given greater assurance they're looking into it or maybe even expressed a little empathy for affected users?


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple confirms iPhone alarm bug, says wait for tomorrow and it'll fix itself


My alarms worked every so called bug has not effected my iPhone 4 from antenna gate on!!!!!!

This bug made me very mad, 2 days in a row I have waken up late due to my alarm not going off. Obviously they knew about it before New Year's, they couldn't prepare a quick fix for it?

Apple has become complacent. They have slipped off their pedestal and joined the rest of the field as just another careless tech giant. What an embarrassment.

Thank you. I knew people would be shunting and crying even more as soon as I seen this article. People need to relax

Same thing happened with my LCARS Clock for iPad. Date showed January 1,2010, but changed to 2011 on the 2nd. Reminds me of Y2K.

Just because it's not a big deal to you doesn't mean the same applies to everyone else. I'm sure I'm not the only one who relies on my iPhone to wake me up for things like work.

If you were almost fired for it then you need to blame yourself and not apple. Not for not waking up on time today but obviously your lateness is a problem if their to the point of almost firing you for being late

Well I guess that explains why my alarm mysteriously chose not to go off this AM. If I had known my iPhone alarm would not have been reliable, I would have set a backup. This is odd that Apple cannot get it together regarding alarms. Seems like such a simple part of iOS to have so many problems.
And "Jason" is quite the jerk for being so ignorant to blame others for obvious Apple problems.

How is it ignorant? Would you complain if a standard alarm clock, not on the iPhone, or any phone for that matter, had an issue are you gonna go off and make such a big deal about this? And how am i a jerk for saying the obvious tha if you almost got fired over this the more than likely you have a problem with being late? Never in my life have i ever heard of someone getting fired for being late once or twice.

Okay - first... There ARE some people who use their iPhone as their clock for alarms. So this crap about "get a real clock" or "no one to blame but yourself" has to stop. In order to get up in time for work - people set alarms. Some set a clock, some set their watches.... and some - set their phones. Would you be telling people whose watch suddenly didn't go and get a clock?
Second - yeah, it's "just an alarm"... but if they don't catch just the alarm, or really come off as complacent about that... What else will they be complacent about? Remember "You're holding it wrong..."?
Now - I don't think it's major... but if they had known about it - it would be great to hear it. And if they hadn't - it would be great to hear "We are aware of this issue - AND WE APOLOGIZE. We assure you it will be fixed so it does not happen again." Instead of "We're aware - it will fix itself."
A good company cares about their customers, and a company that cares about their customers - stays on top of things and apologizes when things go wrong and then assures their customers it will be better next time.

And it very well may fix itself. It's three days not like it would be three weeks for it to fix itself. And i myself use my iPhone as an alarm. I'm not one of those people who use old school alarms trying to make fun of people using their phones as an alarm. I just think it's ridiculous that everyone is getting so worked up over something. It's no different then if the power went out and you woke up late and were late for work because the time on your alarm clock reset or you still didn't have power when you were suppose to wake up.
The only thing im saying that there's no one else to blame but yourself on is getting fired for being late. If you almost getting fire because your late because of this,, you being late must be a common issue, and that you should blame yourself

I read about this but I still forgot and I woke up realizing hey why didn't my alarm go off. Luckily it wasn't the most important thing to get up to though :). They should look into it further since this is the second time that it has happened.

Others have mentioned it, and I agree...Apple is getting complacent. Another possibility is that they are/were ill prepared to become a market leader. If this pattern and their non-customer service type responses continue, Apple may become irrelevant.

I agree they should look into it further. I use my alarm for workday to get up. I had 8 alarms set for repeat, and they were going off all day yesterday. So I can still trust mine to work.
As far as fixing it. It will be over tomorrow. No need to waste time and money to fix something that you won't even have a fix for by the time the problem resolves itself. A week from now. Huge difference, tomorrow no big deal.

@Lime - It is quiet likely that this bug will reappear at another time, say 1/1 and 1/2 of 2012. Not to mention that this is their second alarm clock related bug. Do you still think that Apple should ignore it?

Like Bjblyth, I just want to know how the heck such a bug, only affecting two days, can even occur. Should I be worried that the calculator app has bugs that only affect certain factors? I probably will be, until Apple explains the logic of this to someone.

How is it "obvious" that my lateness is a problem, when you know absolutely nothing about where I work, or who I work for? My boss is very, very strict and does not tolerate it. This is the first time I've been late in the 5 years that I've worked there, so I think I have it together. I don't have a second or third alarm clock that I use, so it's completely fair to blame Apple. But thanks for the concern!

My boss owns the restaurant, she can fire me for almost whatever she wants. It sucks, but it's the harsh reality.

Ya know it happened to me... But we should set our real alarm clocks every night just in case. These phones ARE computers, and computers are not perfect. It's our own fault for not being diligent and responsible, not some application on a phone.

Biggest issue for me here is losing trust in the device. That is twice within 3 months that a condition exists where your alarm clock will fail. That means the device cannot be relied on for that purpose any more. Not everyone checks sites like TiPB every day to see what hoops to jump through for tomorrow's alarm clock settings to work.

Does anyone no the technical reason why it doesn't work on the 1st & 2nd but fixes itself on the 3rd. Just curious.

I think it would have been nice if Apple had brought this to our attention prior to the problematic dates. That is what is bad about the whole thing!

Apple is handling this quite poorly, in my opinion. Their public relations need to be improved. As well as their alarm clock programming.

It is now the 03.01. In Australia and the bug has NOT fixed itself automatically. Thanks. Apple.

seriously why are commenters going after each other when clearly it's apple's mistake. It may not be huge depending on how reliant you were on the alarm, but Apple still made a mistake not finding it sooner and at least sending an e-mail with the workaround.
Yes, it is a mistake on Apple's part considering they already had a similar alarm clock problem previously.

Well my iPhone 4 has been ok except for the charging jack and the home key but an hr later I have a new one and apple refused to transfer my contacts as I have a pc and the alarm doesn't bother me I keep my phone off at night unless im traveling then I might use the alarm I still say my white 3GS 32 gb was better than this phone oh well let me know if you guys get an update or a fix thanks best of luck to you guys. Also please let me know of any more glitches the signal has been great for me

It is a bug and Apple miserably failed their customers - period!
I did not want to wake up on those two days at all so it did not bother me at all but would have otherwise!!

Jason, "your" is possessive (your inability to spell is frustrating) "you're" means "you are" (you're not going to be taken seriously if you use "your" incorrectly).
Apple has to watch these small issues because their reputation stands on a platform of "simple, done right." I don't mind being late once, but Apple should maintain its standards.

So apparently some of you believe you can't be fired for one time being late. That in itself is ridiculous, but did you also consider that without an alarm, one might sleep through all or most of their shift making them more likely to be considered absent as apposed to late. Also, what about people who needed to wake up to catch a flight. One missed flight could easily be considered a lot more significant then one late arrival or one no show. Imagine the rich doctor, who undoubtedly uses his iPhone simply because it's more expensive than an alarm clock, missing his early surgery. That's just one of a billion possible examples of things significantly more significant than a late show at a restaurant which is in itself plenty significant. Now why should this not be considered a big deal? Some people's time is a lot more valuable than others, such as the ones not concerned with their iPhone alarm not working.

I'm on Christmas break, so I had nothing to wake up for.
I still found an incredibly easy fix, though. Download the "Alarm Clock Free" app or something similar and just use it. Bam. Working alarm, and problem solved. My alarm clock pro app woke me up with music this morning. :)

Its the 3rd now & My alarm still didn't go off this morning but I'm still on holiday so I don't mind.

That sucks, maybe you guys should get a second alarm for that matter. Try to be simple, get a reliable clock if waking late will suck up your day =) No software or hardware is perfect, redundancy will cover for imperfections.

Alarm "fixed itself" here in USA Eastern as promised. Still want an explanation as to how this happened.
If not hearing an alarm can allow you to sleep through your entire shift; you need to get your stupid ass to bed earlier. If you are that tired, you must work as effectively as a zombie, which would explain why your employer is so eager to find an excuse to fire you. A valuable employee will always be forgiven most any mishap of this sort. If you presence is a true life or death matter (i.e. you don't bus tables in a restaurant) I'm sure you've learned not to rely on ANY alarm clock.

Having worked in software for years I have seen programmers be dufus's and blunder something as 'simple' as an alarm. As a result, I have my iPhone as a backup to my wired alarm clock and vice versa. It's like defensive driving, assume the worst, plan for system failure.
Yea it sucks. Yea sorry for those that were late to work. Doubt you'll rely solely on one tool without redundancy in the future eh?

I set my alarm for 8:30am this morning (it's a bank holiday here in England but I wanted to check that it worked). It didn't work. So much for this "it'll be fixed by the 3rd Jan" rubbish. I go back to work tomorrow. Time to buy a clock radio!!

I'm using an app called Night Stand HD for my alarms and din't have an issue. It was free when I got it (not sure about now though) so why not try something like that for now as a workaround?
PS Don't feed the trolls

Uh...even if the alarm suddenly works today, for people to say the bug is "fixed" is foolish. The bug still exists and could reappear at anytime. Apple needs to truly fix this and issue an update. Of course, the media and iFans are all saying that its fixed, and the non-techies will praise Apple for their quick reaction.

Didn't work for me this morning (1/3). Great fix Apple!! Maybe I should have held it differently?

Didn't work for me either this morning, 1/3. Fortunately, I was at least aware of the issue (NOT from Apple) and ready for it. Watched as the time came and went with no alarm going off. Double checked to make sure it was still on, and it was. Still broken.
Hope they fix this ASAP. My iPhone is the alarm I use everyday.

Somebody ought to tell Steve that it didn't "fix itself" this morning, Monday. It's a good thing I've got a pretty reliable biological clock as a backup.
This annoying bug can be easily fixed. For those of you who want a one time occurrence, just delete the current alarm and re-create it.

Since Stevie J doesn't believe problems are real unless they get a flood of people directly contacting the company about it...
Is there an email address I can send a note to or a form I can submit to tell them it's still not working for me? For the life of me, I can't find an easy way to submit a 'bug' to them without calling, unless I'm a registered developer. And I have no desire to call and waste my time on hold on the phone just to say "Alarm isn't working, +1".

Mine worked just fine this morning on my 3GS as well as my wife's on her 3G. She's running the latest firmware and I'm one FW behind due to lack of the Jailbreak for it.

Jan 3, 5:03a CST alarm did not go off. Set the alarm for "5 minutes later" after I did get up and it worked. So maybe it has to fail once and then it works?

I will say this again as I've always said. Apple does not give a rats ass about its customers and what they want. All they want is $$$$$$$$ Steve jobs is a greedy sumbitch

Are all of you saying the new, one-time-only alarms you are creating today, don't work? I find it even harder to believe that some people are experiencing continued issues while others are not, than I do that Apple programmed an alarm clock with a bug only affecting two specific days out of ALL POSSIBLE DAYS.

My girlfriend's iphone alarm did not work today either. January 3. She was late to work and not too happy.

@FLskydiver Why is it hard to believe? People have different devices, different iOS versions, different times the alarms are set to, different time zones. There are a lot of variables at play.
It's still not working for myself a 'saved' alarm entry at 7:00 that I set to on/off depending on the day.

Does it, or does it not work, with a new one-time alarm you create today, for say, two minutes from now??
If your old alarm isn't working, than obviously, especially one created on the 1st or 2nd, than obviously you should make a new one and erase the old one.
If new alarms don't work, than the problem isn't over, and THAT is worth mentioning for sure.
Of course, until we get a full explanation as to why alarms made on (or for) Jan 1 and 2 failed, we'll never really know if the problem is over at all.

I was not aware of the problem until this morning when my alarm did not go off. I started a new job today and you could imagine my frustration when my 630 am alarm did not go off and I woke up at 720 am. Apple should have notified customers via email before the issue affected them. The only way I'd have heard of this beforehand would be by scouring the blogs.