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Apple’s Bonehead Move with iOS 4.2.1

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Sometimes you can improve things too much. And go really wrong. That’s the case with at least one feature in Apple’s iOS 4.2.1 update. I broke my rule of not doing a major update during a big project and installed iOS 4.2.1 in between rehearsals for our annual Christmas show. The update itself went off without a hitch. I didn’t have any loss of media or any other issues.

Where Apple got stupid is in changing the screen rotation control from the hardware switch on the device’s side to one that is now only accessible from the multi-tasking dock. I use my iPad mostly in portrait mode but there are some Apps that work better in landscape mode. To keep the iPad from rotating unexpectedly or to allow it to rotate used to be a simple flick of a switch. Now it is a more cumbersome process that involves a double button press, a slide to the right, and a button press. It doesn’t sound like much, but it turns out it is. At least for me.

I thought when I first heard of this that it would be a matter of simple retraining. I was wrong. While I still enjoy my iPad and was able to do what I needed to do in rehearsal last night (taking notes, sending emails, etc…) the experience is drastically different for me. From what I’m reading around the web, I’m not alone. For a company that usually makes the user experience a great one, this is uncharacteristic.

Bonehead move.

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

32 Comments

  1. Brandon Griffiths

    11/24/2010 at 2:27 pm

    I totally agree. Couple that with the fact that the “mute” could be performed by just holding down the “volume down” toggle and this makes less and less sense.

  2. Brandon Griffiths

    11/24/2010 at 2:27 pm

    I totally agree. Couple that with the fact that the “mute” could be performed by just holding down the “volume down” toggle and this makes less and less sense.

    • Matt Fleming

      11/30/2010 at 3:23 pm

      Just jailbreak it. Honestly. I mean, don’t yet, but as soon as an untethered is available for 4.2.1, do it. Jailbreaking contains very few risks if you’re careful, and there is already a tweak out to restore the screen rotation switch’s original function.

      Free your device from Apple’s inane shackles. Jailbreak ftw.

  3. jessiegray

    11/24/2010 at 2:40 pm

    I don’t agree. As long as the device still does what you want it to do, a few extra button presses is NOTHING compared to the benefit of multitasking and folders for the iPad. The pros heavily outweigh the cons in this situation and I don’t see why anyone should target something that isn’t completely simple to them and bash Apple as a whole. The whorible support for AirPrint is a much worse problem I think.

    • Olu

      11/24/2010 at 2:57 pm

      You jessiegray, obviously one of those little pea brain apple apologist.

    • Olu

      11/24/2010 at 2:57 pm

      You jessiegray, obviously one of those little pea brain apple apologist.

      • billgates

        11/24/2010 at 3:04 pm

        I suppose you are one of those winbloze morons?

      • billgates

        11/24/2010 at 3:04 pm

        I suppose you are one of those winbloze morons?

      • jessiegray

        11/27/2010 at 11:36 am

        Turns out the only Apple related product I own is an iPhone. I don’t like Macs at all. And no I’m not a diehard Apple fan. I just don’t see the point of complaining about adding a couple extra button presses when you gain so much functionality in other areas of the device. If it takes more than a few movements of the finger it obviously isn’t worth it at all….. =/

  4. jessiegray

    11/24/2010 at 2:40 pm

    I don’t agree. As long as the device still does what you want it to do, a few extra button presses is NOTHING compared to the benefit of multitasking and folders for the iPad. The pros heavily outweigh the cons in this situation and I don’t see why anyone should target something that isn’t completely simple to them and bash Apple as a whole. The whorible support for AirPrint is a much worse problem I think.

  5. kb27973

    11/24/2010 at 2:56 pm

    Some people just have to bitch…….

  6. kb27973

    11/24/2010 at 2:56 pm

    Some people just have to bitch…….

  7. Anonymous

    11/24/2010 at 2:58 pm

    Actually, I think their bonehead move was making the hardware switch the orientation lock in the first place. I thought it was a good idea at the time, but it created an inconsistency in the hardware configuration between the iPad and the existing iDevices, which became a problem once they added orientation lock to all of them. Long-term, consistency between the iDevices will pay off.

  8. Anonymous

    11/24/2010 at 2:58 pm

    Actually, I think their bonehead move was making the hardware switch the orientation lock in the first place. I thought it was a good idea at the time, but it created an inconsistency in the hardware configuration between the iPad and the existing iDevices, which became a problem once they added orientation lock to all of them. Long-term, consistency between the iDevices will pay off.

  9. Anonymous

    11/24/2010 at 3:40 pm

    Nice wallpaper!

  10. gmich

    11/24/2010 at 7:17 pm

    Would it be that hard to make the button user configurable — either/or?

    • GoodThings2Life

      11/25/2010 at 3:44 am

      Hahahaha… user configurable options?! Umm, that’s typically a Microsoft feature… typically.

  11. Andrew Beery

    11/25/2010 at 12:42 am

    Oh I soooo agree… I loved the easy to get to hardware switch to enable/disable rotation. I will jailbreak my iPad the moment a program is posted that allows me to undo this boneheaded move by Apple… why this is not a used definable option to totally beyond me.

  12. Tim Davies

    11/25/2010 at 1:32 am

    I agree! This is my number ONE reason not to upgrade….I really want some of those new features, but I use that rotate lock way to much to give it up! Once 4.2.1 is jailbroken I’ll upgrade, because I know a fix will be available on cydia soon!

  13. HG

    11/25/2010 at 3:42 am

    I use the switch myself, so I am actually going to wait to upgrade. Don’t really need all those new features yet, so able to do most without upgrading.

  14. Ronwilliams Dci

    11/25/2010 at 7:41 am

    The golden rule about updates is “Know well before installing”. Updating software in middle of a big project… Gutty decision lad. And you paid for it. I hope that you have learnt the lesson.

  15. Ronwilliams Dci

    11/25/2010 at 7:43 am

    The golden rule about updates is “Know well before installing”. Updating software in middle of a big project… Gutty decision lad. And you paid for it. I hope that you have learnt the lesson.

  16. Ronwilliams Dci

    11/25/2010 at 7:45 am

    The golden rule about updates is “Know well before installing”. Updating software in middle of a big project… Gutty decision lad. And you paid for it. I hope that you have learnt the lesson.

    iphone application development

  17. Ron William

    11/25/2010 at 7:47 am

    The golden rule about updates is “Know well before installing”. Updating software in middle of a big project… Gutty decision lad. And you paid for it. I hope that you have learnt the lesson. Sorry for repeating

  18. Ron William

    11/25/2010 at 7:47 am

    The golden rule about updates is “Know well before installing”. Updating software in middle of a big project… Gutty decision lad. And you paid for it. I hope that you have learnt the lesson. Sorry for repeating

  19. Anonymous

    11/25/2010 at 8:59 am

    I have had the beta for a while and you do not get used to it. I would have preferred them to consistently put a software rotation lock, like the iPhone has, and still left the hardware one in tact. The button is now useless. They might as well take it off in iPad 2, because the volume toggle works well and quickly for muting.

  20. Andrew Beery

    11/25/2010 at 6:43 pm

    OK an application called unmute is now available for jailbroken iPads… I jailbroke my iPad and installed it… works great… I get the unified email and multitasking and still have my unrotate button!!!!

  21. Anonymous

    11/26/2010 at 10:02 am

    In addition to being furious over the loss of a physical screen-lock switch (which I used very frequently) for something as insignificant as a system notification mute (which I never noticed; in fact, that system notification mute now messes with my alarm clock)… I’ve also noticed that everything on my iPad is running much, much slower. It’s about as responsive as a 12 year-old Windows computer now.

    Between this and antenna-gate, I really have to wonder what’s going on over at Apple?

  22. Spanky340

    11/29/2010 at 9:54 am

    I’m equally miffed with this stupid decision by Apple.

    By changing the functionality they’re say that they got it wrong the first time.

    They didn’t – but they got it very wrong the second time!

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