Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gadgetwise Blog: Q&A: Fixing an iPad Home Button

The Home button on my iPad doesn’t work consistently. Since the button is vital to getting around the tablet, can it be easily repaired?

If the Home button is acting up, there are a few troubleshooting steps for determining if this is a software or hardware issue before you proceed with any repairs. Apple’s online support guides for the iPad include a five-step plan for unresponsive tablets and instructions for resetting the device, which may help clear up any software glitches with the Home button.

Some iPad owners have claimed that “recalibrating” the Home button helped with their slow-responding hardware. To try this, open one of the iPad’s own apps like Notes, press and hold the Sleep/Wake button at the top of the tablet until the “Slide to power off” screen appears and then hold down the Home button for several seconds until the app on the screen closes. While some iPad owners found the procedure useful, others have reported only a temporary change in button behavior, or none at all.

If the Home button’s balkiness seems more mechanical in nature, taking the iPad to the Genius Bar in an Apple Store for diagnosis or exploring Apple’s other service offerings online are among the repair options. If your iPad is out of warranty and you do not live near an Apple Store, independent repair shops like iResQ offer Home-button replacement services by mail. iFixit.com and other do-it-yourself sites have steps for the technically fearless as well, but proceed at your own risk.

Apple has two workarounds in the iOS software that may help in a pinch with an unreliable Home button. The iPad’s software (iOS 5 and later) includes a “multitasking gestures” setting that lets you use your fingers and thumb on the screen instead of pressing the Home button for certain tasks; instructions for using the gestures are available online. You can also put a virtual Home button and other controls right on the iPad screen by tapping the Settings icon; tapping General, then Accessibility; and turning on the AssistiveTouch function. More information about AssistiveTouch is on Apple’s Web site.

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