Three Suggestions For Improving the iPad’s Lock Switch [Opinion]

Three Suggestions For Improving the iPad’s Lock Switch [Opinion]

When the iPad was first announced, the little “lock switch” was originally intended to be a mute toggle.  When the product launched, it was a “screen orientation lock”.  Apparently it’s headed back for mute purposes.  I think it’s a shame, as I see several paths to more usefulness.

I’m an avid iPad user, it’s my email in the morning, my podcast viewer on the bus (TED Talks all the way), my email/web/calendar browser in the office, a note taker at meetings, gaming on the bus ride home, Netflix videos in the evening, a bit more email at night, and possibly some more gaming if I can’t sleep.  It’s also how I show off pictures of my kids, occasional kid-entertaining-meltdown-avoider, and, again, email. I’ve had the iPad since day 1, minute 4 of it’s availability, and absolutely love the device.  And in the past 6 months, I’ve never once used the orientation lock.

And I can safely predict I’ll not use the mute switch either.  Why?  Because push & hold volume down for one second == mute!

Here are the three simple ways I’d improve upon the usefulness of that switch/button/toggle, in no particular order.

  1. Screen Lock
    How many times have I, or my wife, or my kids, been watching a video or photo slideshow and accidentally touched the screen or home button?  Don’t know, I can’t count that high on my fingers and toes.  It’d be great to be able to use the lock switch to prevent any input whatsoever.
  2. User-configurable
    Apparently Steve Jobs already weighed in on this one, but it seems like it’d be great to let the user choose between Orientation Lock, Mute, and Screen Lock (see how I snuck that in there?) as the action for the switch.
  3. App-configurable
    This probably would be a little messy, as it puts a lot more power in the developers’ hands and creates a lot more possibility for confusing users, but what if  the developer themselves could build features around the button?  Not sure what we’d see as a result, but I like the idea of putting the coders in control of it.

Here’s to dreaming!

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About the author

Jeremy Toeman

Jeremy Toeman is the Chief Product Officer for Dijit Media, a venture-funded startup whose vision is to create the ultimate “four screen” social entertainment experience. Jeremy has over 11 years experience in the convergence of digital media, mobile entertainment, social entertainment, smart TV and consumer technology. He has a proven track record of designing and delivering award-winning products and technologies to the connected home. Prior to Dijit, Jeremy was a founding partner of Stage Two, a firm providing product design, UX, and marketing services to consumer technology companies, including Boxee, VUDU, Clicker.com, and others.

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