Steve Jobs: iPad 4.2 mute switch not changing, not user-definable

Ever since the iOS 4.2 beta for iPad came out, some people have been a little upset about the hardware orientation lock being changed into an iPhone-like mute switch. There's been talk (hope) of getting a settings option that would allow for the user to choose between orientation lock and mute, but now that's been dashed by an email response purportedly from Apple's top dog himself, Steve Jobs:

The question:

In IOS 4.2 for iPad is the switch on the side going to be the mute and not screen orientation lock from now on?

Jobs' answer:

Yep. Sent from my iPhone

The follow up:

Are you planning to make that a changeable option?

Jobs' answer:

Nope. Sent from my iPhone

When Apple first announced the iPad, it was shown to have a hardware mute switch. Just before its release, Apple updated their spec page, relabeling it as an orientation lock. Now they've flipped the switch again and it looks like there's no going back. Remember though you can still access the orientation lock just like on the iPhone and iPod touch by double-tapping the home button and then swiping to the right.

Are you a proponent of the mute switch or do you wish it was left the way it was? Tell us your thoughts on the switch being switched in the comments below.

[ 9 To 5 Mac ]

by Brian Tufo


Your source for everything iPhone and iPad. More news, more how-tos, more app and accessory reviews. iMore.

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There are 56 comments. Add yours.

mv rob says:

I much prefer this as an orientation lock and use it constantly. I prefer using the volume button for any and all volume adjustments

Al says:

Who cares? It takes one second to flip the switch, it takes one second to lock orientation via software. One week after 4.2 is available people will be used to it and no one will care anymore!

Cookie says:

Simple solution, jailbreak, if theres enough demand for this feature, it will appear in cydia (if it isn't already).

Doug says:

I like it the way it is. A mute switch makes more sense on an iPhone, so you can quickly silence the ringer and other alerts. But an orientation switch makes more sense on an iPad, which doesn't ring!

ken says:

I agree Cookie-
Im sure someone is already working on a JB tweak.

ww2_honor says:

I get the whole like short response E-mail's since he's a busy man and I admire him for responding himself, but I think his answer are just a little douche-like. I mean he only says one word? Does it take that much time to give a little more info, like "No because it wouldn't work out software wise (which isn't true but is just an example)". I don't know maybe that's just me, and he should get rid of the "Sent From My iPhone" signature because those are a little douche-like too lol.

arin.failing says:

I honestly think this one is conjured up. As Ww2_honor stated, they are quite brief... even for Jobs. Sure, I wouldn't put it past him to be a bit of a douche, but we've never seen answers this short before. It just seems a little suspicious. Has anyone seen the "from" field in these emails?

jtz5 says:

What is his email address? I have never received a response from him on Bluetooth questions, so I want to make sure I have the correct email. Thanks.

kayno says:

They are keeping things consistent across the board.. I think it better this way, users wont be confused.

joeblow84 says:

I prefer the hardware switch remaining as orientation lock on the iPad since I rarely have to mute it.

Mactacular says:

Using the beta right now it is way better using the software lock than the switch. It was also sometimes hard to get to depending on the case. In addition you now get brightness control without going to the settings menu. Overall it is a huge improvement.

Chris says:

Should stay as is! It already has mute by holding down volume button - for express lowering of volume. Orientation lock quickly accessible is key! Use it all the time! Yuk to this change.

Jay says:

"I don't have to change myself to fit the product [iPad] - it fits me" - Jony Ive
Apparently not...

Exit says:

Agree with mactacumar, depending on the case you use it can be awkward and cumbersome to enable the switch. All in all I don't feel like it's a takeaway, who knows once we get facetime delivered to the iPad we may need the mute switch!?

Maniacfive says:

Ugh, terrible decision,I rarely use the volume controls but when I do have to mute its easy as is. However I use my orientation lock all the time. Handling the iPad via the edges as I do, having the lock on the side is both convenient and sensible. Having to double tap the home button, swipe left, tap lock orientation is neither convenient nor ergonomic.
Definitely one thing that would make me consider jailbreaking my iPad. Something I've never felt the need to do before for any of my iOS devices.
@Damien if Apple are genuinely concerned about users being confused by a switch on an iPhone doing one thing and a switch on the iPad doing another, I fear for what they will develop next. Perhaps an iHandholder to walk me through my everyday life without being confused. :)

autochef says:

Maniac hits it right on - "neither convenient nor ergonomic." I consider that very odd for Apple in particular, for whom "elegant" typically seems to be a driving force. Why make something more complex to use? Frankly, if your case is in the way, somebody designed a case very poorly. I have only loosely considered jailbreaking before, but this makes it much more of a priority for the way I use it.

nicole says:

I don't have an iPad, but it makes more sense to me to use the button for orientation lock. How often would one want to mute their iPad? I can't see much use for it since it's not a phone.

Stingray5NC says:

Maybe the point of this is to make it easy to mute the device during a Facetime call (I'll eat my hat if the next iPad doesn't have a front facing camera for this purpose) or when it's hooked to your stereo? They wouldn't make such a fundamental change to a hardware button without some very good reason, and that probably hinges on unannounced product plans.
If there's a lot of demand, they might add an option, but I suspect this will end up being the kind of thing a lot of people complain about before it happens, then after using it for a week everybody has forgotten and nobody cares about anymore.

Xultar says:

Dumbing it down for idiots. If u hold down the volume it mutes. What a stupid change.

Farbod21 says:

Bad change. I dont use that button now. I did before.

sfditty says:

Orientation lock is only a double-click, swipe, click, and another double click away, much more useful than having a button in a position where you hold the device that you don't have to think about. Ridiculous, as I use the feature all the time. All for a mute button, where there is already a very functional and intuitive way to mute? Like others, I'm now forced to look into jailbreaking when 4.2 comes out, which is something I would otherwise not even consider. Someone should email a link to this thread to Steve Jobs.

robnaj says:

I think that it should be the way it is now only because that is the way it is on the iPhone and iPod what I would like to see are more widgets. But if you want choice go get an Android tablet or a Windows 7 tablet and have fun with that have al the choice you want.

Webvex says:

The change could be more of a programming issue rather than usability. That is, if devs are writing apps that expect certain functionality from that switch and it's different between devices.

firesign3000 says:

I take any of these supposed em-mails from Jobs with a huge block of salt. I'd wager that 99.999% of them are BS.

firesign3000 says:

em-mails? Stupid crappy Dell keyboard.

as400man says:

Poor design change on Apple's part. It should at least be a user preference rather than an outright change. The existing behavior is much better for iPad than a mute switch. I also use the rotation lock far more than having a mute switch.

K says:

It is very annoying to use the software version although it doesn't take as much time as people stressing. The volume buttons on iPad work rather quickly so I guess making the orientation switch into a mute switch isn't a big deal. If you hold down the volume rocker down, within one sec, the volume level is at 0 and if you hold it up again, it goes back up to 100%. This isn't that big a deal..

ghostface147 says:

I received the nope response when I asked him a question about the mac app store. When I asked about the proximity sensor rumor from apple australia, he gave me a sentence, followed by something in parentheses. is his addy.

Chaotic Buddhist says:

Well, looks like I won't ever be updating my iPad to 4.2 then. That switch is used daily by me and it's a heck of a lot easier to flick that than to dig into the control screen to hit it there.

Greg says:

palmpad homebrew would be able to change that no problem. HAHA

iPlagiator says:

i think it makes more sense being a mute switch.. cause if u want to mute some anoying sound like keyboard clicks, u have to go through all the settings and uncheck it.. but.. its a matter of taste. to be honest i never use that switch

mwrg says:

Jailbreak app forthcoming I'm sure.

Maniacfive says:

@iPlagiator I would agree with you, but using your example of keypad clicks, they are something that people either turn off once in settings and then forget they ever existed, because they hate them. Or, like I do, keep them on, but if I'm in public, i flick the phone to silent. Nobody needs to hear my keyboard clicks, nor my message alert tone, nor my obnoxious ringtone for that matter.
But thats a phone. True I click my phone to silent more than i click my ipad to silent, because its a phone. if my keyboard clicks on the ipad are liable to annoy someone else then any sound from my ipad is going to annoy someone else, but how often am I going to have to flick between the two? I'm either at home, or I'm am 'iPad Douche' in starbucks. ;) Muting the iPad is a one time kinda thing.
Orientation can change from app to app! If all app developers included a way to force their apps to use a particular orientation then this would be a non issue. but, they don't.

youngmanwinters says:

A mute switch on the iPad makes No Sense Whatsoever! The orientation switch is much more useful. Portrait orientation takes away Screen space, I use My iPad in Landscape- View 99% of the time, but I like to have the option of quickly changing it back and forth. The New process explained isn't complicated, it's just tedious, and time consuming. Time is a huge factor for Me..

Gordon says:

If they want consistancy I'd rather see the iphaon change to suit the ipad. It takes almost exactly the same time to use the volume controls on the ipad to mute as it does the switch on the iphone. That way we'dbe getting more hardware functionality, not less.
I want unified email, but i may hold off upgrading to 4.2 until there's a jb solution to this stupidity.

OrionAntares#CB says:

And instances like these are why I dislike Jobs and his "vision" for iOS control. These thing have me rooting more and more for HP to manage something truly amazing with webOS because right now it offers the interface simplicity of iOS with the customizability of Android, but easier, and better multitasking then both.

Jay says:

They have to do this because they believe 90% of apple consumers are retarded and can't adjust to change. The sad part it's true. I use that switch all day and for them to change it just to prevent confusion is ridiculous.

kleutgens says:

I preferred it the way it was, being an orientation lock. Need to lock orientation a lot and too many actions for me to do in software. Who needs a mute switch on an iPad?! Really annoying!

toddfsu says:

What? Holding volume down mutes it.
Easy access to the orientation lock is much more important! When you're holding the giant thing... your arms get tired... you end up tilting it forward and your book/movie/app spins upside down. The button allows you to quickly use the last bit of energy to tilt it back, and lock it down fast and easy.

evie says:

I'm squarely in the mute camp. I've been wanting a decent mute button since the beginning. I keep mine locked in landscape most of the time, and won't mind unlocking it from software. But having to lower, then raise, the volume buttons when I need to turn off sound briefly is very annoying. A rare case where Steve and I agree.

Johaen says:

I for one find it quite annoying when I'm only trying to turn the volume down halfway, and have it muted instead. I welcome this change.

Edie says:

This can actually come in handy for Facetime calling.

gquaglia says:

Typical Jobs. Douchey to the end.

kingweb says:

Steve Job's arrogance is what fuels the jailbreak community!

W0LF says:

IMHO I don't want a mute switch - it's not a phone. Orientation all the way... Long live the orientation switch!

rj5570 says:

I would put $$$$ on it that the reason it was originally changed from mute to orientation lock was that they were hoping to release the iPad with 4.0 on it but was held back so they changed the spec sheet and the function of the iPad switch to orientation from the original mute ideal.

west3man says:

Johaen, why do you think that would change? I only read that the orientation lock would become a mute switch, not that the volume button behavior would change.
Evie, why not just hold the volume button down? It mutes pretty quickly - too quickly, as Johaen notes.
General: Really awful logic in these comments.

Johaen says:

@West Because it doesn't make sense. Why would the volume button mute it if there's a switch?

James says:

I use the lock switch all the time, i wish i had the choice.

R Paul singh says:

I want my old orientation switch back. Don't need mute button.

Jonathan Porter says:

The mute switch does not appear to mute audio from iPod or YouTube. I wonder if its to prevent push notifications and calendar alerts from waking you and the missus up in the middle of the night - like they used to now and then. If so i think its better.

Laura says:

Just want to add my two cents worth. Can't stand when I'm reading and the page keeps rotating! The volume can be turned down all the way and take care of any unwanted noise. Please change it back!

Mike C says:

I agree with the rest of the common sense population, being able to stop auto orientation is ideal. You can already mute by pushing the home screen twice and swiping to the right. I want my switch back or for it to a least be my choice.

Erik B says:

Not happy about the switch in this switch. I liked the ease of locking rotation when I was reading or watching a movie or just browsing.
Plus the mute does not seem to mute anything except alerts... a mute switch should mute everything

Richard says:

I haven't upgraded to IOS4.2 yet and I probably won't bother now having read this. The orientation switch was useful. You could already mute by holding down the Volume Down button which was right next to the orientation lock switch anyway.