MacMost Now 790: iOS Physical Buttons and Switches

Every iOS device comes with an array of physical switches on the body. You can use the Home button for various tasks, as well as the weak/sleep button. The side switch and volume controls can be used for more than just controlling volume. You can also combine the switches and use movement to activate some functions.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 790: iOS Physical Buttons and Switches.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's talk about the physical switches on iOS devices.

So since the release of the first iPhone each iOS device has featured no less than four switches around the edges. Let's take a look at what each one can do. Some of them might be able to perform functions that you did not even know about.

First, let's start at the Home Button at the bottom of the screen for every iOS device. The most basic thing that the Home Button does is that it takes you home. If you are inside of an app for instance you press the Home Button and it takes you back to the home screen. If you are on another screen of the home screen press the Home Button and it takes you all the way back to the beginning. If you double press the button it will actually show you the recent list at the bottom and you can flip through that and also get to various extra controls if you go all the way to the left. Of course if you press and hold the Home Button you get Siri.

In addition you've got a triple press. You can go into your setting under General and then go to Accessibility and you see at the bottom there is triple click home and you can set it to activate some of the accessibility features like voice over, resume, and invert colors or Assistive Touch. So if you need one of those then you can activate it easily with a triple press of the Home Button.

So we are not quite done with the Home Button yet, but for now let's go to the top where we have what's called the Sleep/Wake Button. So if you press the Sleep/Wake Button while your iPad is on and showing something, either an app or something here on the home screen, it goes to sleep. Now if you are already asleep it should wake up and give you the lock screen. There we go. You can see it is giving me the lock screen and now I can unlock it.

Now the Home Button and the Sleep/Wake Button can work in tandem to give you a screen shot. So you can get to anything you want. Say you are inside of an app and you want to take a screen shot of what's there. Press both buttons at the same time and you get a photo taking sound. Now when I go to my Photos app I can see that under Camera Roll I have a screen shot of what happened when I was pressing those two buttons. So you can do this to capture something going on or if you created something in an app and you wanted to kind of take a shot of it to remember it, you can do it.

So next we have the volume buttons that are on the side. Now the volume button on the iPad Mini are actually two separate buttons. But on a lot of iPads and other iOS devices they are a kind of toggle with one button on the top and one button on the bottom.

So you can see here as I raise and lower the volume I get an indicator on the screen showing me the volume level. On some apps, like the Music app, it won't show you that it will just change the volume there in the upper right hand corner. It is also kind of tricky because there are different volume settings. For instance there is different volume settings for when you have your headphones plugged in as for when you are using speakers. So you can plug in your headphone and adjust the volume and when you take the headphones out it is back to the level it was before because there is a different volume setting for using speakers and a different one for using headphones.

So here is something you may not know about the volume controls. They have a secondary function. That's when you launch the camera app on an iPad, or an iPhone, or an iPod Touch you can use these volume buttons to take a picture. So that means you can actually use them as a kind of shutter control instead of trying to clumsily find the button on the screen. It is a lot easier on the iPad Mini here and it is definitely a better experience when you are taking pictures with an iPhone.

So now let's talk about the side switch. Here on the iPad it is just with the volume control on the right. On the iPhone it's on the left. So it depends on the device you've got. But it is the one little switch that you can go into an On/Off mode. By default this is the mute button. But it doesn't have to be.

If you go into your settings and then you go into General you can see there is a setting there for Use Side Switch. This Use Side Switch setting you can use to lock rotation or mute. By default it is set to mute but I don't find it useful because the volume control is right there. It is very easy to hit that down button and very quickly mute what's going on. Lock rotation is much more useful, especially on an iPad where you might be reading in different orientations, for instance reclining or lying down, and you don't want it to switch orientation. Now whichever one you choose the opposite one will be available if you double press the Home Button and go over to the left and you can see there I've got a mute button at the bottom left. If I were to change this so the side switch is mute, then you can see that now that is the lock rotation button. So you always have the availability of the opposite function just by double pressing the Home Button and going over to the left. But I like to keep this one at lock rotation. I find it more useful.

So is that it for visible switches. Well not exactly because your iPad also has an accelerometer in it. With that you can do gestures, of course you know in games and everything and how you orient your iPad and use it. But you can also use it for some basic functions you might not know about. For instance shake to undo.

So here I am in Notes. I'm going to change some text here and then I'm going to Undo it. Undo it by simply shaking my iPad and you can see a little thing comes up Undo Typing and I can undo all the work I just did apparently. But it will work differently on different apps depending upon whether they use it for an Undo function. On some apps you shake for other completely different things.

Now if you have an iPad you may also use the Smart Cover. The Smart Cover is a kind of physical switch in and of itself. You attach it there and when you close the Smart Cover it turns off your iPad. You can change this setting pretty easily. If you go into the General category under settings there is the iPad Cover Lock/Unlock feature. So if that is kind of getting in the way a lot you can simply turn off that physical switch.

So there's a look at some of the physical switches you can find on some iOS devices and the different things that they can do.

I hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary at MacMost Now.

Comments: 6 Responses to “MacMost Now 790: iOS Physical Buttons and Switches”

    Roger Rossman
    6 years ago

    As usual, great tutorial. I didn’t know that pressing the home button three times gives you the settings screen.. Thanks..

    6 years ago

    Wow! Thank you!

    6 years ago

    Great tutorial as usual. Another use of buttons is ability to close current app on screen. Useful if app has locked up. Hold on/off button till swipe to turn off is displayed. Then click and hold home button for approx 5 seconds and current app on screen will close returning you to the home screen.

    6 years ago

    Hey Gary. Using an iPhone 4S with IOS 6.0.1 I don’t get the “use the side switch” option under Settings – General. Is there someplace else that this switch can be changed from mute to orientation lock?

      6 years ago

      You can apparently only switch that on the iPad. You’ll need to do it with the on-screen control on the iPhone.

    6 years ago

    Great podcast, I always think I’ll already know all of the topic, but end up learning a thing or two! Would love to see a similar podcast on the functionality options of the earbud controls! Many thanks Gary!

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