iPadOS 15.4 will let iPad volume buttons change function based on orientation

iPad Air 4 backside
iPad Air 4 backside (Image credit: Lory Gil / iMore )

What you need to know

  • Apple's iPadOS 15.4 will let people change the way their volume buttons work on iPads.
  • People will be able to have the function of the buttons change depending on the orientation of the iPad.
  • Apple's iPad mini already has this option, but other iPads will gain it with iPadOS 15.4 next week.

Apple's iPadOS 15.4 update will bring one of the iPad mini's best features to the rest of the iPad lineup — the ability to have the iPad's volume buttons change function based on the device's orientation.

Currently, an iPad's volume buttons are set in terms of what happens when you press them, regardless of how you hold it. That isn't the base with the iPad mini, however, with Apple allowing people to have the tablet change what each button does based on orientation. Now, with iPadOS 15.4, it appears that feature is coming to other iPads — it's been tested on an iPad Air and iPad Pro, for example.

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With iPadOS 15.4 installed, the new option lives in the Settings app, under Sound. A new option for "Fixed Position Volume Buttons" can be found at the bottom of the screen.

It isn't immediately clear when this feature was added but it seems that it was most likely in the release candidate version of iPadOS 15.4 that was made available earlier this week. The final version of iPadOS 15.4 will be made available next week alongside the release of the updated iPad Air. We can expect iOS 15.4 to ship at the same time — ready for the arrival of the updated iPhone SE.

This small change has the potential to be one of the best iPad features of the year, especially for people who find themselves pressing the wrong volume button when holding their iPad in a different way.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • That's cool. I guess I don't hold my iPad in assorted orientations enough to have noticed it didn't. I did immediately notice it on my iPad Mini and thought, how Apple, to consider the function of the volume buttons relative to the orientation.
  • I hope this can now be disabled on the Mini 6. Far from being “one of the iPad mini's best features”, I find it confusing and annoying.
  • Just got my new iPad Air M1 today and I’m pretty freaking upset about this update. I get that this fixes the volume controls for some people but now they’re just backwards for me. Brand new m1 iPad Air running 15.4 and for some lame apple reason I don’t have the option to toggle fixed volume controls. That setting just doesn’t exist for me. I’m about to return the whole ipad over this stupid update. At least my IPad Air 4 is still on 15.3. So stupid apple. At least give me the setting to fix it
  • So freaking mad. Going to rant some more. Like clearly they know a lot of people aren’t gonna like this change. They gave some people the setting to turn it off but for some **** reason apple shipped me an ipad with r’tarded volume buttons. F this