When iOS version 4.2 for the iPad was released, Apple changed the functionality of what was, until then, the “orientation lock button” (the one next to the volume control). Much to the annoyance of many users (including myself), it became a “mute switch”.

iPad Orientation Lock Switch

The iPad can be used in both portrait and landscape modes (the shape of the iPad is rectangular) and I use both. For example I prefer portrait mode when I read a book and take notes as it feels more natural, but I use landscape mode for watching a movie or a TV programme. With the orientation lock turned off, unless the iPad is in it’s stand or lying flat on a desk, it is very easy with a simple wrist action, to accidentally switch modes.

Prior to 4.2, once I’d run my chosen app, before going any further, I’d set the screen to the desired orientation and lock it into position by simply “flicking the switch”. To turn off the orientation lock, it was a simple matter of flicking the switch again.

To turn the orientation lock on and off under 4.2 I have to double-tap the Home button and slide my finger to the right along the Task Switcher until the playback, brightness, and volume controls come into view. To the left of the brightness control is the orientation lock.

iPad Orientation Lock Switch

Press it once to lock and again to unlock (when the lock is on a padlock appears in the middle of the button).

Before this change, if I wanted to mute the iPad, I could either press and hold the volume control button for 2 seconds or use the on-screen volume control slider.

iPad Volume Control

I am so used to using these methods to mute the iPad that I hardly ever use the mute switch now.

But the good news is that this week, Apple announced that in iOS 4.3 users will be able to choose, via a setting, how the switch functions.