Using the iPad’s side switch settings to bring back the sound in your app

by Moms With Apps on June 10, 2012

Our guest post this week is written by Maggie Sheldon of Learning Touch (creators of First Words Deluxe), in response to questions app developers often receive from customers about how sound works in their app. Thanks Maggie!

Did the sound stop working on your kid’s favorite iPad app? Are you just about ready to downgrade that 5-star rating to a 1 because it’s just clearly broken? Please don’t. Here’s why:

Your iPad is muted. No, I’m not joking, it really is muted. I know you’ve tried toggling the mute switch on the side and are sure that it’s in the off position. I know that your Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and Youtube apps all have sound and work just fine. But your iPad is most definitely muted. Here’s how to fix it:

Thanks to a design decision made by Apple, you can also use that side switch (formally the mute switch) as an orientation lock. Meaning you can lock the screen so it doesn’t change orientations when you turn the iPad on its side. Nifty, right?


Unfortunately, switching the side switch (say that five times fast) to control the screen orientation also disables its control over sound.

To make the side switch the sound overlord again follow these simple steps:

  • Navigate to Settings on your iPad.
  • Tap on General and scroll down to the “Use Side Switch to” box and select the mute option.
  • Toggle the side switch to the off position and presto! Your favorite kid’s app has sound once more.
  • To lock the rotation again, just go back to settings to switch what the side switch controls.

Are you wondering why your music and video apps still had sound when your kid’s favorite app didn’t? Apps that include media playback (such as videos, podcasts and music apps) override your mute button settings because their functionality is dependent on sound. Most kid’s apps respect the mute button setting (but yes, we agree, their functionality is dependent on sound, too).

Now that your iPad is sounding off appropriately, could you do me a favor and sound off about your favorite kid’s app? As an app developer, I rely on the recommendations of parents and educators like you to get the word out about my apps. Thanks!
Here is another resource on App-Sound-Troubleshooting from Natasha at @Reks, who outlines a similar method to Maggie along with additional possibilities and video tutorials for resolving unexpected silence.

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