08 June, 2011

Apple iPhone Unsolvable Software Problem - Home Button

So you've got a problem with your iPhone?

Let me guess. Sometimes -- perhaps often -- you find that pressing the "Home" button doesn't exit you from the app you were running. In fact, on a bad day, you might find yourself pressing the "Home" button 20-30 times, every time you try to exit anything.

The standard procedures for handling "glitchy" things like this would include the following: (1) exit all apps running in the background, (2) perform a soft reset, (3) reboot the phone. Unfortunately, when the "Home" button problem is happening (which, turns out, is intermittent, and without an easily identifiable pattern), none of those typical fixes solve the issue.

The more radical procedure, of course (and the one they will typically recommend at the Genius Bar for any weirdness), is to perform a clean restore of the latest operating system, wiping your phone clean. This solves the problem... temporarily. After a few days or maybe weeks if you're lucky, the problem recurs.

For those of you who have come here, and are trying to figure out what's wrong, this is *not* a mechanical problem with the "Home" button itself. It's a software problem where the OS is not responding to the activation of the button. This was confirmed by the people at the Genius Bar.

And that brings me to the Genius Bar... I waited a couple of hours to speak to someone at the Genius Bar last month. What I learned was the following: (1) It is, in fact, a software problem, (2) Apple is, in fact, aware of it, (3) There was not (as of a few weeks ago) any solution, (4) This is a very common problem (the Genius Bar representative said that he, as well as most of his friends, are suffering the same problem), and (5) Apple will be happy to replace my phone, but in all likelihood, the new one will develop the same problem.

He also implied that he had the impression that Apple considers this to be an urgent problem.

So, with that... a few complaints for you folks at Apple.

First, I'm disappointed that there's such a major experience glitch, affecting large numbers of users, out there in the wild. Hard to believe that not enough testing was done to avoid such things.

Second, I'm surprised that Apple did not have a "Get Out Of Jail" approach for reverting back to an operating system on which the problem would not occur (this issue spontaneously started shortly after, I think, the 4.2 iOS (give or take a minor release).

Finally, shame on Apple for not even making a press announcement that they're having issues that are affecting customers. If you call Apple Support, their line is that they have not heard of such a problem. That's in conflict with what was said in the Genius Bar. So Apple clearly has an "official story" that they're sticking to, save for the staff who are going rogue and telling customers the truth.

Needing to press the "Home" button 20-30 times is more than a minor inconvenience. It's absolutely ridiculous. I am walking around with what is arguably one of the most technologically impressive mainstream consumer products ever produced. And it's flawed.

I expect a little more from Apple.

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