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A victory for people power

Well, well. You'd never hear them admit it, but by their actions, Apple sometimes shows it realises it's made a mistake. Last year it brought buttons back to the iPod Shuffle after taking them away, and baffling users, in 2009. And its fourth-generation iPod Nano design amounted to an admission that the stout design of the third generation - the 'fatty' - wasn't loved by consumers.

And now, they've (quietly) responded to user complaints again. This time, it's about something that might sound minor, but gets iPad owners hot under the collar - the function of the switch on the top of the iPad.

When the iPad launched, the switch was an 'orientation lock' - you could use it to stop the iPad rotating what was on screen when you put the 'Pad on its side. It was useful for reading in bed, or resting the iPad on a table. So users were horrified to find that, when they upgraded to iOS 4.2, the switch had transformed into a mute switch, like on the iPhone.

It's typical Apple to want to keep things consistent across its range, but people were mad - tech blog Gizmodo launching an official campaign on the subject.

Well, now Apple have backed down. They haven't switched the, er, switch back to orientation-lock - rather, they've let the user choose, creating a new option in settings to select a mute or rotation-lock function. That seems sensible, and we vaguely wonder why it took so long. The change can be found in iOS 4.3, the next version of the iPad (and possibly iPhone's) software, which has just been distributed as a preview to developers.

iOS 4.3 contains some nice other features too, which we'll tell you about shortly. For now, enjoy the rare sight of Apple backing down about something....

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