Goodbye iPad Mute Switch, Hello iPad Orientation Lock Switch

Something has changed on's revamped iPad specs page -- the mute switch is gone and in its place, a physical hardware button for "screen orientation lock". That's right, now you can sit or lounge without fear of the iPad spinning around willy-nilly every time you shift one way or 'tother. However, you can't quickly turn the sound off. (We're guessing you're supposed to hold down the volume rocker for that function now).

We've long hoped for a Settings option for that, but hardware is certainly more convenient to rapidly turn it on and off at whim. Sacrificing the mute button though? Couldn't it be (will it be?) user assignable like the home button? And what's with the last minute change? Focus groups give feedback, or did Steve Jobs get tired of his screen flipping around, stormed down to the underground lab, and demand the change? Will it be confusing to have orientation lock on the iPad where mute is on the iPhone? Or will the 4th generation iPhone get the same change?

Are we reading too much into this, or is Apple not reading enough into what's being hailed as the next great leap forward in personal computing?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.