The Marimba ringtone heard 'round the world: symphonygate update

The 60-or-70-something businessman and symphony-goer whose iPhone halted Mahler? Don't hate on him, hate on bad UI. The ringer mute switch on iPhone doesn't silence alarms. (via @jswatz)


  1. Xeni, you’re usually pretty on-the-ball on stuff like this, but this is trolling plain and simple. I’ve never owned a phone that didn’t still alarm when the ringer was switched off, and I would vehemently argue that for most people, the alarm still ringing when the ringer is off is expected behavior, as otherwise one would not be able to use one’s phone as an alarm clock without worrying about being awakened by notifications in the night.

    And regardless, to be completely silent, the vibrator must be switched off as well, which is why most theaters ask patrons to completely switch off their phones during performances.

    1. I have a Droid Incredible. the ringer is turned off automatically between 10pm and 7am, but my 6:30 am alarm never fails to wake me up.

      Well, it never fails to emit sound. The waking up part is beyond its control.

      1. That’s one way to address this problem, but this introduces another set of rule for the user to handle.  

        Does it alert you to the fact it will not ring if you set an alarm for 5 am? Because you gotta catch that flight at 7:30? While you are suffer from severe jet-lack?

        Also, the basic problem is easily addressed by turning the damn thing of during performances, ceremonies or even class. 

        1. “That’s one way to address this problem, but this introduces another set of rule for the user to handle.”

          This sounds like Apple’s mantra for giving users as little control over iOS features as possible.

          1. *Shrug*  I used to think that being able to program your window manager in lisp was the bestest way there i.
            As I’ve recovered  from this time-wasting, paranoid and unhealthy behaviour, I’ll simply point out that there are many, many technically sound smartphones around and will leave it to the actual consumers which device they prefer to buy. 

    2. Although it’s not a smartphone, I have an LG phone that has 3 mute settings; “virbrate only”, “alarm only”, “all sounds off”. And when it’s set for “all sounds off” it means it. It’s a pretty simple UI design to activate these modes. All you need to do is press volume down untill you get past the lowest setting. Of course it would be just as easy to just turn off the phone.

    3. Indeed.  Having alarms sound despite the ringer being off is a Good Thing.  What people aren’t used to is carrying around an alarm clock in their pockets.

  2. Actually, I agree with the iOS UI design here.  Mute turns off all notifications and system sounds –  only the alarm/timer sounds are exempt. They are usually set on a short notice (timer) or at times that are unlikely to inconvenience other people.  W/out this exemption it would basically impossible to use the iPhone as an alarm clock and would make the mute button laughingly unusable.  Being able to just flip a hardware button make people actually USE this feature. 

    All other alarm sounds –  reminders, todos, notifications, dates, etc – get muted.

    Someone mentioned that he fell victim to this bad design because he left early and his “leave work” alarm clock embarrassed him. Sucks for him, sure, but really: How many users *need* such a reminder? 

    1. I disagree. If you want that sort of behaviour, then there should be a setting to allow for it. Too many people treat the mute as “theatre mode”, and I myself use it to mute the phone during meetings.

      I suspect Apple will soon be rolling out a new setting anyway so that you can fine-tune the mute button behaviour to accommodate both of us, with the default being that all alarms are muted to vibrate only as well.

  3. Bad UI, huh? I don’t think so. Setting an alarm on an iPhone is a simple process. The guy or a grandkid made a mistake, that’s all.

  4. Agreed: It is ideal UI. I never want my phone to ring for calls but yes, I still like to wake up in the morning, or be reminded when to take my laundry out of the dryer. 

  5. 2,000 people x ~50 bucks a seat = 100,000 dollars of someone else’s time he wasted.

    His choice was to lose track of what he was responsible for. This is the consequence. It’s pretty moderate, and should probably help remind us all that we’re not so important.

  6. I still hate him. 

    I like that my phone lets you take the battery out quickly.  Stays pretty quiet after that. 

  7. Idea for a new app: Theater Silence. The user selects a block of time, and all alarms, sounds, and calls are muted duringt least that block of time, and the phone switches off.

        1. 30-60 seconds? I could send like, 15 tweets in that time, omg.

          But seriously, my iPhone takes about 10 seconds. It’s really not that hard of a thing to do in a concert.

          1. Actually, the relevant time here is the time needed  to push the buttons, which is even less than the boot time.

        2. I personally am loathe to turn my phone off after I mis-typed the GSM PIN and had a brick until I could get home and type in the SuperPIN. Anecdotal reports from people I know suggests that I am not alone.

  8. From the articles I’ve read, the insane part of the story was not it going off, it was the guy’s attempt to wait it out in hopes he wouldn’t be identified as the source of the distraction… it kept going on, and on, and on, and on, even after the conductor finally stopped and had to ask the guy to turn it off, he still tried to bluff it out, thinking the alarm would stop on its own, until finally he reached in to shut it off.

    Anyone, or at least anyone thoughtless, can make the initial mistake.

    Letting it become a huge problem in an attempt to avoid owning up to it makes the guy an asshole, and shamed him far more than he would have been had he instantly turned it off when the alarm sounded.

    I shouldn’t be too harsh… my mortified date at a performance once had to lean over to inform me that my nose was whistling when I breathed. I just thought it was the flutist. 

    1. Letting it become a huge problem in an attempt to avoid owning up to it makes the guy an asshole, and shamed him far more than he would have been had he instantly turned it off when the alarm sounded.

      When a phone goes off in yoga class, the owner will never get up to deal with it unless I say, “Would SOMEBODY like to turn that off or should I do it myself?”

    2. More a case of the guy thinking “it can’t be me, I know I turned my phone off!” and not realising that some forgotten alarm was going off.

  9. Whether it’s bad UI is debatable.  You should be able to mute calls and not alarms if that’s what you want to do, but of course it should be clear that that’s what you’re doing; when I’m muting calls, I’m much more likely to want to mute everything.  [The default lock-screen on my phone has an alarm symbol.]

    My phone allows me to set sound levels on various different events; muting it can be over-ridden by pressing the volume buttons on the side of the phone, which is trivially easy to do accidentally when the phone is in my pocket.  The power switch is on the top of the phone, also trivially easy to press.  That is why, when I’m sat at a concert, I turn my phone off and take the battery out.

  10. The volume still works, as does the on/off switch at the top of the phone (in lieu of using the touch screen), and I have a hard time believing an alarm I can barely hear with the phone on my lap (turned all the way down) could be heard on the podium. 

    So not a UI problem, pilot error. He didn’t turn the phone off and when the alarm went off, he didn’t know how or didn’t bother to silence it. 

    EDIT: in fairness to Patron X, as the Times calls him, he just got the phone that day so someone (his IT dept?) should have been clueful enough to know that a man who doesn’t know phones have alarms (is the Blackberry, his prior phone, that weak?) might need a brief overview. Turning it off is a two step process: press the button, then confirm with a swipe, for example.

    1. This is meant as a straightforward question not snark – I don’t have an iphone… when the alarm is ringing, wouldn’t the slightest touch turn it off or at least to “snooze”? 

      1. It’s a fair question. As far as I can see, snooze requires you to use the touch screen (you get OK and snooze as options). Pressing the power button silences it (as an OK). 

        So yeah, the old duffer didn’t know that. I didn’t either but I rarely use alarms. 

      2. The hardware buttons just work as  snooze, as does the touch screen, when you  tap the snooze text.

        Only when you discard  the alarm via the main slider, it gets stopped for good.

        It is possible to add a “no snooze” option to an alarm, but snooze is the default and thus alarms set with Siri will have snooze enabled.

      3. When the alarm sounds, a dialog pops-up that you can touch to silence it.
        But, honestly, if you’re going to a symphony, turn the damned phone off. Your world won’t end. Honest.

    2. Even a new phone is one I turn off in a theater. If my job requires that it be on and I be available, I don’t go to the theater at that time. 

  11. Of course it can’t be UI, it’s an Apple product and they’re perfect, so it must be user error!  Seriously, how hard can it be to make the silence screen a multiple choice that makes clear what you’re choosing to do?

    Silence ring

    Silence alerts & alarms

    silence interface sounds

    Silence ALL

    1. If you’re going to set an alarm and then silence it, what good is that? If I set an alarm it probably means I want to be reminded of something, no matter where I am. This poor guy’s options were to turn it off (which he plainly didn’t do but probably didn’t realize there was a second step to confirm it), use the volume buttons, or pull the damn thing and look at it. 

      1. ‘no matter where I am’

        see, I happen to know that i’m just not that damned important.  I suspect you aren’t either.

      2. A good UI reason for this is if you set a recurring alarm. The other time where it makes sense is when you can’t tell in advance if you will be in a “no alarm” area when setting the alarm hours in advance.

        I agree that the user needs to have this setting available, and Apple is probably going to update this ASAP (Google and Microsoft will also be scrambling to check their apps too).

    2. It’s not hard, it would be just shitty design. 

      The design chosen by Apple is pretty forward, works in nearly all cases and the unique case in which it fails is the case where the phone should be turned off completely.

      Jesus, if I get two calls a month on my iPhone and even I turn it off during plays.

    3. Silence ‘all’ would just be a volume thing, you have volume buttons for that anyway, as you’re attempting to make a simple process a decision making one.  There also isn’t a ‘silence screen’.  It’s a little slide toggle on the side of the phone, and on activation it gives you a unique symbol indicating that the ringer is off.

      And the point is that all phones do this, it’s in no way unique to the iPhone, that’s why it’s not an iPhone UI problem.  Back off the fanboy attack, we’d be making the same argument irrelevant of manufactorer.  Silent means that the ringer is off (admittedly not the best verbiage for the feature, but certainly not a word created by Apple… in fact I’m not even 100% sure they call it silent, it’s a wordless process), and that’s probably why it’s never been called mute.

  12. It’s clearly a bad design.  If you tell your phone to be silent it shouldn’t second-guess you, it should stay silent. Situations such as this are exactly why it’s important to have a simple way to mute all sounds. If you have to turn it off entirely to control its behavior that is a design failure.

    1. Please explain to all of us why you see turning the phone off as a deficient way of remedying this situation, because to me it seems like a no-brainer.

    2. This would be the case if  “on” and “mute” would be the only sensible states. However, they aren’t.

      Other sensible states are “mute, except for the alarm clock” or “mute, except for calls from the president”. 

      It *is* possible to implement this, but not with a simple two-state-switch.

      The pre-selected design works in all sensible cases, just not when someone set an alarm to go off during a gathering that should not be disturbed at all. In which case the thing should be on *off* anyway. 

      And if you are one there very rare people that have a legitimate reason to inconvenience a large group of other people by acting on such an alarm (otherwise, why get it at all), then you can bother to familiarise yourself with the device and NOT set a frigging alarm for 14:30 during your motherr-in-law’s funeral  a timer for 45 minutes right before the pope’s inauguration.  

  13. Solution: set all ring tones, alarms, and other notifications on your phone to coughing noises, which people are already trained to accept during even the quietest performances.

  14. It’s a mobile ‘silent’ feature, not mute.  As most people have pointed out it’s GOOD that alarms go off when the phone is on silent – it’s expected behaviour – the idea of silent is that you’re not disturbed involuntarily.

    That said it would be a great feature if after moving the slider an option on the screen popped up that allowed you to completely silence the phone, off by default and optional (i.e. if you ignore the prompt it’ll just be on a default silence, not waiting for your input) but available if you really want it to make NO noise – for anything.  But then you have the volume buttons for that anyway.  The visual feedback even shows a bell with the volume at 0, indicating that it’s turning the ringer off.  It doesn’t show the volume symbol, but a special one – making it obvious that the functionality is at least different, even if not inherently intuitive.

    But ultimately it’s user error.  To blame the problem on the iPhones UI, one of the best and most developed interfaces available for a mobile device, is a bit of a stretch.  If you want to blame anything it would be the precedent set by the mobile phone industry, a feature that’s handy for most people but occasionally causes mischief for those that don’t understand it.  If you don’t want you phone to do anything, then turn it off – at least an iPhone won’t turn itself on to sound alarm, like most phones from the last 15 years – now that’s genuinely troublesome.

    Personally, I’d blame the guy for setting an alarm for when he finishes work.  That’s just silly.

    1. Don’t be an Apple apologist.  Silent doesn’t mean “be silent”? Come on. And this scenario where you supposedly want to silence your ringer but still hear alarms is also quite a stretch.  Do you honestly think that situation is more common than just being somewhere where you need to be quiet?

      The user interface failed to do what this user expected.  That is not the fault the user, that is bad interface design.

      1. “The user interface failed to do what this user expected.  That is not the fault the user, that is bad interface design.”

        That’s not how you define bad UI.  You could take any UI on any device, and fine ‘someone’ that can’t use it.  Individual case studies are important, but not defining.  Most people would expect an alarm to go off if the phone is on silent (you’re actually turning the ringer off, not ‘silencing’ it anyway) as this is how phones have worked for decades.  I totally concede that ‘silent’ is a terrible word for the feature, but I’m not even entirely sure that Apple call it silent; when you hit the toggle it gives you visual feedback that the ringer is off; no where does it say it’s silent or mute.

        As stated to the other troll, this has nothing to do with Apple anyway – most candy bar phones TURN THEMSELVES ON to sound an alarm – imagine that, even turning your phone off won’t stop it from sounding an alarm.  I’m not apologising for anyone, I’m defending a best practice.

        {EDIT} Turns out the other troll was you as well, but my reply ended up somewhere below.

        1. Failing to do the most obvious thing is indeed bad user interface design. Requiring the user to understand a subtle distinction in terminology in order to use a feature properly is bad user interface design.

          Labeling anyone who dares criticize the design decisions of Apple a “troll” betrays your bias.  Rational discussion is not possible with someone like you.

          Have a nice day.

          1. “Labeling anyone who dares criticize the design decisions of Apple a “troll” betrays your bias.”

            As stated several times elsewhere in this thread, this is a design decision that far predates Apple and is essentially pervasive, so the more logical conclusion for “bias” would be the one who keeps arguing that it’s an Apple problem.

          2. When the topic of the OP is bad iPhone design, commenting about bad iPhone design is not “Trolling”. This is a case of design failure since the desire to make the function fit Apple’s desire for “simple & iconic” has resulted in a miscommunication to the user.

            This is how most of Apple apologist discussions go. “If you want to do something Apple didn’t anticipate or enable, you must either be doing something unnecessary, bad or are crazy”.

          3. @gelflex:disqus   Fair point about the OP and context.
            But I still dislike the assumption that someone defending something that isn’t even anything to do with Apple makes me an Apple apologist – if anything I’m a mobile phone apologist.

            @LC ‘Obvious’ when discussing UI has as much to do with familiarity as logic.  I can guarantee if Apple’s alarm didn’t go off when on ‘silent’ that there’d be more complaints than there are now – because that’s a standard that predates the iPhone; and again, it isn’t a mute switch, it’s a switch to turn the ringer off; it’s only ambiguous if you don’t understand its function.

          4. “esoteric4:  Funny, I never said it was an Apple problem, I said it was a bad interface design.”

            Funny, you called the people who defended the practice “Apple apologists.”

          5. “intellectually dishonest arguments”

            Perhaps you haven’t noticed that the majority of people here agree that it makes sense to be able to use the phone as an alarm clock, which would practically speaking not be feasible if turning the ringer off also switched off the wakeup alarm (or perhaps you’re conflating alarm clock alarms with calendar/reminder events, which the iPhone does *not* play audibly when the ringer is switched off).

            Regardless, best of luck finding any phone that lets you silence the alarm clock by flipping the ringer switch off. Please let me know if you find even one.

          6. esoteric4: Thanks, but no luck is needed. My Android phone, for example, allows me to choose whether or not alarms can be heard or just seen when the phone is on silent.

          7. “esoteric4: Thanks, but no luck is needed. My Android phone, for example, allows me to choose whether or not alarms can be heard or just seen when the phone is on silent.”

            Three problems: 
            1) Obviously from your careful wording your phone does not in fact have a ringer switch, and if we’re talking about having to turn the phone on and open menus, isn’t it just as easy to turn off the alarm clock? Remember, on an iPhone (or most non-Android smartphones) you can turn off the ringer while the phone is in your pocket.
            2) You should double-check your assertion, my Android phone (Gingerbread) has “Vibrate” and “Silent” sound profiles, but even on Silent, the alarm clock still plays. Or perhaps you have the common Android user misconception of thinking that seeking out, installing, and setting up a 3rd party sound manager utility is a more practical solution for a tech-averse 70-year-old than an Alarm On/Off toggle is.
            3) assuming that your phone does work as you describe, have you ever actually used the sound profile to turn off the alarm clock alarm, or are you just arguing for the sake of arguing?

          8. esoteric4:  Nope, wrong on all counts.  My phone has a ringer switch right on the lock screen: drag from the left to unlock, drag from the right to silence.  The stock alarm clock has a preference controlling its behavior when the phone is silent.

          9. “esoteric4:  Nope, wrong on all counts.  My phone has a ringer switch right on the lock screen: drag from the left to unlock, drag from the right to silence.  The stock alarm clock has a preference controlling its behavior when the phone is silent.”

            On what planet is an on-screen control a “switch”? Here’s a tip: one lets you operate it by feel.

            And, again, are you really in any way suggesting that going into application submenus and changing an obscure setting would have been the solution for a 70-year-old man in this situation? And consequently actually calling the other way “bad user interface design”? Especially vs. just turning the alarm off? Are you even listening to yourself?

          10. esoteric4:  I operate the screen lock controls by touch on a daily basis. They are positioned right where my thumb lands on the screen.

            I did not suggest that changing this preference would be the correct solution to this problem.  You insisted that no phone has such a feature and I was pointing out that you are clearly wrong.

            I don’t recall which way this preference was set when I first got my phone. If the default is to make noise when the phone is silent then Google is guilty of the same bad UI design here as Apple. In which case I am thankful they provided a way for me to correct the mistake.

          11. Failing to know how your stuff works is bad user.  Blaming the interface is weaksauce.

            As are the rhetorical flourishes and false outrage.

            edit: you’re not blaming apple, but anyone who disagrees with you is an apple apologist? TROLL ON.

            Second edit: stop trying to sell phones here.

        2. this is how phones have worked for decades.

          I don’t believe this is true.  “Decades” ago, phones neither had alarm clocks, nor fit in one’s pocket.  Surely you’re old enough to remember that.

      2. Apple apologist? Please show me one phone with a ringer on/off switch that turns off the alarm. The precedent for still allowing an alarm to sound when the ringer is turned off dates back to at least the Nokias of the late ’90’s.

        Palm OS, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, webOS, and the precious few Android phones that have physical ringer switches all function the same way, and always have.

        1. On my android phone, hitting the volume down button multiple times will turn off the ringer but leave the vibrations on.  Hitting it once more turns the vibrations off AND mutes all sounds.  (and there are screen indicators that clearly show this.)

          Annoyed that the iphone can’t do this simply.

          1. “Annoyed that the iphone can’t do this simply.”

            On the iPhone, turning the ringer off is a one-step process that you can perform while the phone is still in your pocket; on your Android phone you have to take it out of your pocket and then it’s 4-step process (turn on screen, swipe to unlock, hold down volume button, turn screen off). Your anti-iPhone bias may have warped your perception of “simply.”

            Edit: You should also double-check your phone. I just tried this on my Android phone, and with the ringer volume on either Silent or Vibrate, the alarm still plays.

      3. Actually, the call it the Ring/Silent switch, indicating that it is about ringtones.

        And yes, it’s very very common for me to use that button to mute ringing, sms and email alerts but still having it work as an alarm clock.

        I do not need to hear that “ding” that some newsletter arrived while trig to fall asleep, but I sure as hell want to hear my Kimmunicator sound at 6 o’clock.

    2. it’s not that he was disturbed involuntarily. it was that 2,000 other people and a bunch of professional musicians were disturbed involuntarily.

        1. We are talking about the iPhone, are we? 

          Using the volume down button to the, err, max, doesn’t mute the phone, it merely sets it to a very low value, where system notifications, alarms and ring tones are concerned.

  15. It’s a “ringer off” switch, not a silent switch. If you want your phone to do nothing, turn it off. I for one allow not having people wake me up with phone calls in the middle of the night, but still getting woken up in time for a morning meeting.

  16. Yet, of the lot that was there, only one seems to have had problems with turning his phone off and keeping it off…

  17. My normal method, when I want to be 100% sure that the phone won’t go off, even if I sit on a button or something, is to take the battery out.

    I appreciate that this isn’t possible for some phones.

  18. I agree that the switch should make the phone completely silent (alarms and all).  It’s bad UI — and here’s why:

    When the switch is on (e.g, in the RED position), the iPhone silences the sound that is normally played when you lock (tap the power button) or unlock the phone (swipe to the right).   So *some* of the sounds are muted in this mode, leading a user to expect that ALL the sounds would be muted.

    1. By that logic, the ringer switch should turn off the vibrator as well, otherwise the phone will never be “completely silent.” 

      No one has yet explained why simply turning the power off isn’t a sufficient way to prevent a phone from making any noise.

      1. Many reasons:
        – Because  boot up can take quite a while on some phones and you’d rather not waste that time
        – Because you are never sure if the phone will make boot up sounds when you do need to boot it up
        – Because you might want no sounds, but still want the phone on to be able to check SMS, emails, etc.

        Again, from my original point:  in its current design, the iphone UI is flawed in that it makes you believe that all sounds are muted when in fact, they are not.

        1. “Again, from my original point:  in its current design, the iphone UI is flawed in that it makes you believe that all sounds are muted when in fact, they are not.”

          But that’s opinion, a single observation, not fact.  Not that it’s illogical, you have a totally valid point (the only real argument I’ve heard yet); but you suggest it in a way that implies that everyone must think that; it’s certainly never crossed my mind and I’m an interaction designer who tends to be quite picky about these things.  I guess that experience with mobile phones trumped an isolated condition.

          But when you set an alarm, you always want it to go off, if you don’t then turn it off.  It’s the mobile phone equivalent of telling your secretary to not let anyone disturb you but her having the good judgement to let you know you’re about to miss a meeting that you told her she really must remind you to go to.

        2. All of the reasons you list are trumped in this case by the other symphony-goers’ right to enjoy the performance.
          I think it’s a user perception problem. Why would you ever set an alarm that could be ignorable? Isn’t that the whole point of an alarm? Who would ever say “well, yeah, I set that alarm but I didn’t want to HEAR it!”

          1. That’s what vibrate mode is for.
            I would expect that flipping the switch silences all sounds; alarms therefore would vibrate rather than make a sound.

          2. @twitter-16472615:disqus And they do. The exemption is for one, any only one class of alarms: The one’s set in the clock up which are meant  to be heard. 
            Actually, there’s a 2nd exemption, but that’s not an alarm: Find my iPhone -> Play sound  overrides  the volume and silence settings.

            This is actually relevant to your argument, as you claim that 
            “the switch should make the phone completely silent (alarms and all)”. 

            Do you feel that the this setting should apply to the find my iPhone function, which would of course mean that you wouldn’t be able to pinpoint it? 

        3. “Because boot up can take quite a while on some phones”

          You’re grasping for straws here. You weren’t talking about “some phones,” you were talking about the iPhone. If you can’t wait the ~30 seconds for it to boot after a symphony, then yes, you should probably consider another phone.

          “Because you are never sure if the phone will make boot up sounds when you do need it to boot up”

          a) again, the iPhone does not make “boot up sounds” regardless, b) why would you be booting the phone during the time that you were continuing to need it to be completely silent? Need to send that emergency text while you’re at the opera? Bright screens shining amongst the audience are almost as obnoxious as ringers.

          “Because you might want no sounds, but still want the phone on to be able to check SMS, emails, etc.”

          Isn’t that an “if a tree falls in the forest” kind of thing? I mean, are you seriously suggesting that there’s some advantage to the phone checking your email in a theater yet not notifying you about it?

          Here’s a better idea: don’t set a wakeup alarm for during a symphony (as others have pointed out, the alarm clock is the only alarm that will play, calendar/reminder alarms don’t sound anyway when the ringer switch is turned off).

    2. However if you’ve owned a mobile phone in the last 15 years you’d wonder why your alarm didn’t go off when it was on silent.

      I think the issue here is that it’s always been the intended function and for many the expected result (through experience of course, it isn’t inherently logical, especially on phones that refer to it explicitly as silent), so by creating what you deem ‘good UI’ you’d likely have as many, likely more, people claiming it was bad UI.

      What you really mean is that it defies logic, which is arguable; but on the whole I still think it appeals to the majority.

  19. Meanwhile on Bizarro-Earth, outernet blog Gniob Gniob runs a story about how a man muted his iPhone, which completely silenced it, allowing him to sleep through his (now silent) alarm, causing him to be late for work, resulting in him being fired.  In a fit of depression and rage, he sets a nearby all-kittens petting zoo on fire, killing the animals, as well as the nuns and orphans that were visiting that day.

    I think I’m fine with the mute switch not silencing my alarms, thanks.

  20. This was yet another case of someone owning a device he doesn’t completely understand. When you use a phone as an alarm of course you want to make it completely quiet so you can sleep… yet you still want to hear the alarm in the morning. Why do some of you expect otherwise?

    Besides, why did this man set the alarm in the first place? Did he want to wake himself before the concert was over so he could applause at the end even if he fell asleep? Whatever the reason – he set the alarm. Forgetfulness and technological illiteracy is not “bad UI”.

    1. “When you use a phone as an alarm of course you want to make it completely quiet so you can sleep… yet you still want to hear the alarm in the morning. Why do some of you expect otherwise?”

      Every night before I go to sleep I make sure to un-mute (as I call it) my iPhone because I assumed that I would not hear my alarm in the morning. I really don’t like the comments insinuating that someone is stupid for not knowing this. I read the manual when I got the device and maybe this info was in there but it can be hard to remember everything from reading something once.

      1. Because my comment was directed solely at you… Oh, wait. -_-

        For the record, I was only “insulting” anyone who thinks it’s an oversight to allow a deliberate alarm to go off while the involuntary communications are silenced. Again, we all wonder why the alarm was set in the first place.

  21. I did not know my ‘silent ringer’ switch didn’t silence all sounds.  It should.  That’s why I switch it to silence.

  22. Ya know, this whole argument would be silenced (pun intended) if the iphone allowed choice:  how about a setting so that the silence switch would either a) silence rings only but play alarms, or b) silence everything (which optionally would still vibrate)

    But that, of course, goes against Apple’s paradigm of “there is only one right way of doing things.”

  23. Wow.  Did anyone but Xeni and I RTFA?  75 comments so far, and nobody’s about to give the gentleman a break.  The phone was new to him.

    Patron X said he had no idea he was the culprit. He said his company replaced his BlackBerry with an iPhone the day before the concert.

    He thought he’d turned it off.   And he himself didn’t intentionally set the alarm.

    He said he made sure to turn it off before the concert, not realizing that the alarm clock had accidentally been set and would sound even if the phone was in silent mode.

    He’s maybe not as tech-savvy as many of you mobile phone users, which is fairly understandable for a man in his sixties.  

    “I didn’t even know phones came with alarms,” the man said.

    And even though he didn’t think it could possibly be him, with Gilbert glowering in his general direction, he checked to see.

    But as Mr. Gilbert was glaring in his direction, he fiddled with the phone as others around him did, just to be sure, pressing buttons. That was when the sound stopped. It was only in the car going home that his wife checked the settings on his phone and found that the alarm had been set.

     And was the guy actually being a dick about it?

    The man, called Patron X by the Philharmonic, said he was a lifelong classical music lover and 20-year subscriber to the orchestra who was friendly with several of its members. He said he himself was often irked by coughs, badly timed applause — and cellphone rings. “Then God, there was I. Holy smokes,” he said.
    “It was just awful to have any role in something like that, that is so disturbing and disrespectful not only to the conductor but to all the musicians and not least to the audience, which was so into this concert,” he said by telephone.
    “I hope the people at that performance and members of the orchestra can certainly forgive me for this whole event. I apologize to the whole audience.”
    Patron X said he received a call from an orchestra official the day after the concert. He had been identified by his front-row seat. The official politely asked him not to do it again, he said, and the man took the opportunity to ask to speak to Mr. Gilbert, to apologize in person.
    The men talked by telephone (it was a land line) on Thursday afternoon. Mr. Gilbert said he told Patron X, “I’m really sorry you had to go through this,” and accepted his apology.

    Christ, what an asshole, right?

    1. They cut him a break by not naming him.

      I suspect his version of the story starts to break down around when he mentions that he was frantically pressing all the buttons on his iPhone.

      1. Does it?  My wife’s new iPhone has at least four buttons on it.  If I were completely unfamiliar with my new iPhone and I discovered it was making noise in this kind of situation, I’d probably mash some buttons too.

        1. If I were completely unfamiliar with something that made noises I was not entire sure I knew how to control, I would not bring it to the theatre, because I am not a prat. 

          1. And if you didn’t know enough about it to know it made noises? Dude didn’t even know phones had alarms, let alone how to turn one off. This is sounding more and more like a first world problem but not for him as much as for the people who have never ever had a piece of kit do something unexpected and embarrassing. 

    2. To that I would like to say two things. 1: HE should have RTFM when he got a new phone. 2: when you’re in a theater where silence is expected, you turn your phone off. Not on silent, off. (With a possible caveat of him being a doctor on call or similar)
      Maybe he’s not a huge ass, but still somewhat of an ass.

      1. I dunno.  If people – and the Apple manual – refer to switching a phone to “silent”, I can see how confusion could occur.  The manual does say that alarms will still sound if you set the Ring/Silent switch to silent; but in that case I think they could find a more intuitively-understandable name for the switch.  As it stands, the manual is obliged to say that “silent” doesn’t really mean “silent”, but means “ringtone is silenced”; and most people who have grown up with phones will take that design illogicality for granted.

        I’m curious: how clearly does the iPhone show that an alarm has been set?

        1. A little clock icon appears next to the battery icon at the top right of the screen to indicate an alarm is active.

          When you flip the no ringing switch an icon of a crossed out bell appears momentarily.

          When I power down my iphone entirely it does not power itself on to sound an alarm.

      2. I don’t *usually* tell the Boss to RTFM: if I like the job and can stand the Boss, I RTFM and tell him the bits he needs to know. It’s amazing how much you can learn from reading the story instead of a heavily commented on excerpt.  

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