The specific thing that’s making people upset is Apple’s decision to change the iPad’s screen-orientation lock switch — on the right side of the device, above the volume up/down button — into a volume-mute switch.
This makes the iPad’s hardware button functions consistent with the iPhone’s, but seems like a dumb move on Apple’s part.
The screen orientation lock is a popular, useful thing to have on the iPad, ideal for keeping the screen image from flopping around while you’re reading on the couch, in bed, in a stunt plane, etc. We use it all the time.
On the other hand, a “silent mode” switch — while very useful on the iPhone, which has a ringer that goes off for phone calls and text messages — is hardly useful on the iPad, which rarely emits unintended sounds, and quickly mutes itself by holding down the volume-down button for a second.
iPad owners will now have to double-tap on the iPad’s “home” button and flick their screen to a hidden menu to lock and unlock their screen orientation. Good luck doing that sideways, half-asleep in bed.
In this case, Apple seems to be making the rare move of putting the customer’s needs after Apple’s own desire for consistency across its device lineup. In other words, Apple is screwing the customer, forcing them to do more work than previously necessary to access a device’s useful feature.
We’ll see if it lasts. (And if this directive came from the top — Steve Jobs — is he losing his touch?)