How To Protect Your Apple iPhone's Home Button
Two years ago, I made the big leap from Windows Mobile to the Apple iOS platform. Migrating from the clunky Dopod 595 to the Apple iPhone 3GS was like upgrading from a Lada to an Audi. There was just no comparison.
The Dopod 595 was a smartphone only in name. I couldn't do much on it. Heck, I couldn't even copy and paste! Correction - Windows Mobile 5.0 allowed me to copy but not paste. Fantastic. So I ended up using it only to make calls and send text messages.
The Apple iPhone 3GS was, honestly, the first time I truly used a smartphone as it was meant to be used. I did not just make calls or send text messages. I spent a lot of time using the iPhone 3GS for a plethora of other tasks - keeping track of my schedule and budget, reading on-the-go, and of course, shooting some green pigs whenever I get frustrated.
Unfortunately, that's when I discovered I probably used the iPhone a little too much...
Just over a year later, the Home button started getting unresponsive. At first, the Home button wouldn't respond if I merely pressed at the top, but it progressively worsened until I had to mash my thumb onto the button with some force to get it work. It got so bad, I had to use the top Power button to activate my phone!
Apple had already released the iPhone 4 then, but I could not upgrade because I was tied to a contract. So I waited for almost a year for my contract to expire and the iPhone 4S to arrive. Let me tell you - it was the longest wait ever!
During that time, I chatted with many other iPhone users and found that it was a rather common problem. In fact, the technician at Maxis (my service provider) confirmed that it was a common Apple iPhone problem. Of course, Steve Jobs would probably call it a "feature" - Boy, it's our friendly built-in timer telling you it's time to upgrade!
Anyhow, I finally solved the problem by upgrading to the Apple iPhone 4S, and then sending the iPhone 3GS in for a replacement battery. This is the cheapest way to get a new or refurbished Apple iPhone that's out of warranty. If you say you want to fix a mechanical problem like the Home button, they'll quote you a ridiculous sum like RM 500 (US$ 166). Just ask to replace the battery - it only costs you RM 300 (US$ 100) and you will get the same thing - a new or refurbished iPhone with a brand new battery!
That said, it will not solve the problem of an unresponsive Home button developing after a year or so of hard use. In fact, this problem is likely to affect even newer models like the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S. This is where we get to the crux of this article - how do we protect the Home button so it doesn't "die" on us so quickly?
The secret is pretty simple - an Apple iOS feature called AssistiveTouch. Most of us have never heard of it, or will probably never think of using it, because it's actually meant to help the physically-disabled!
As noble as its original purpose may be, this feature is actually a great boon to everyone else. It not only greatly reduces the number of times you actually need to use the Home button (thereby extending its lifespan), it also puts a bunch of really useful shortcuts at your fingertips!
This feature is available in all Apple iOS devices - the iPhone, the iPod touch and even the iPad. The only caveat is that those devices must upgrade to iOS 5, as this is a new feature that debuted in iOS 5. You will not find it if you are using older versions of iOS.
Okay, so you have an iDevice that has already been upgraded to iOS 5? Let's get started on how to enable and use AssistiveTouch!
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