I’m almost positive that all iPhone, iPod touch or iPad users at some stage or another battle with an unresponsive home button. The home button either becomes very slow to respond to key presses or stops working completely.
What to do if the only button on your phone (other than the on/off, volume or mute toggle) stops responding? No getting to the home screen, no multitasking or worse still no exiting applications. There’s only so long that you can get stuck in the calculator app before the world starts spinning and you implode.
There are however three ways of getting around this issue.
- If the phone is still under warranty, take it in for a checkup or replacement
- recalibrate the home button
- activate assistive touch
My first iPhone 3G actually had a problem with the mute toggle. It got stuck on mute and I just couldn’t get the sound back on. Luckily it was under warranty and the Core group replaced the phone. This applies to the entire phone, including the home button, so better have them check it out and replace the phone or be stuck with it for months.
The second option is to recalibrate the home button. Unlike the old Compaq iPaq or the HTC windows mobile phones that required on-screen touch calibration, the iPhone does not have this as a documented settings option or functionality. However a quick Google search will bring up largely the same answer:
- open any default installed iOS application, such as Notes or Calculator
- press and hold down the power button until the “Slide to power off” dialog appears, then release
- press and hold the Home button until the “Slide to power off” screen disappears, force quitting the application
All you did was in fact force quitting the application, but for some reason it does the trick of recalibrating the home button to be more responsive. I had to repeat this procedure about 3-4 times before it worked for me. There was a noticeable quicker response from the home button than before.
Unfortunately this used to work for me. Is is always the case, 20-months into my cellphone contract, my phones tend to start lagging, buttons get unresponsive, old technology can’t keep pace with the new resource hungry apps and generally the excitement of a new upgrade starts kicking in.
In this case my home button is totally an ornamental design feature, with no discernible function. As mentioned earlier, I now have no way of getting to the home screen, no multitasking or worse still no exiting of applications without some huge frustrations. At this stage I’m contemplating donating the phone to become a drop-testing dummy.
Of course I knew about the multi-gesture setting on the iPad that gave you the ability to switch between applications, close to the home screen etc. but I couldn’t find the same option on the iPhone.
Turns out this feature is actually called AssistiveTouch.
AssistiveTouch, is actually meant for those who have trouble using the touchscreen. You can enable it through Settings –> General –> Accessibility –> AssistiveTouch.
Once activated, a new, semi-transparent button will appear on your screen, and is active within all apps. The button can be moved around to any place on your screen, and is generally unobtrusive.
This button gives you access to the Home screen, device settings such as volume, lock screen, rotation, shake and multi-tasking, while you can also record your own gestures as favorites. You can even tap to take a screenshot.
While this takes a bit of getting used to, it will probably lessen my overall frustration with the phone while I wait it out to get my next upgrade.
On that note, will it be the iPhone 5 (with its bugs), Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC windows mobile? Obviously I don’t want a phone that will likely be old-tech in 6 months, but such is the speed of technological development.
Give me back my Nokia 6110.