Weird iPad Bug: Audio from Certain Apps Only Played Via Headphones

This rather obscure iPad issue has been occasionally annoying me for ages, and I finally worked it out tonight.

The problem I had was that some, but not all, apps would only play audio through the headphones, not through the internal speaker. For example, BBC iPlayer would play through either the speaker or the headphones, as would Safari and the YouTube app; but some media player apps could only be heard via the headphone socket.

Perhaps the strangest was the 4oD app, which is the TV on demand app from the British station Channel 4 (C4). This usually plays a short C4 ident, then a sponsor message, then the programme. Bizarrely, with this app, the ident could only be heard via headphones, the sponsor message could be heard via either headphones or speaker, and the programme only via headphones.

This was rather annoying, as I often prefer to watch and listen to media without putting headphones on: my hearing is already sufficiently damaged from too many years of live pub bands that I only pipe sound directly onto my eardrums when I really want to.

It turns out the problem relates to the side switch on the iPad, which can be used as either an external speaker mute button or a rotation lock.

A couple of months ago I accidentally changed the settings to make this be the mute button; I normally use it for rotation lock. It turns out that, when I changed the settings back to make it act as rotation lock, I had the physical switch itself in the mute position. It seems that, when the setting was changed back, some part of the system remembered the mute setting and was using it – but only for certain apps or even, as in the case of 4oD, for parts of certain apps.

The solution? Go to Settings, General, and in the “Use side switch to:” section, change to “Mute”. Then ensure the switch itself isn’t in the mute position: you don’t have to put it there then switch it back or anything silly like that, just be sure it’s in the right place, with the protruding part towards the top of your iPad and with no orange dot visible. Then leave the settings app and switch to one of the misbehaving media players, and you should find it now plays through the internal speaker again. Finally, return to Settings, General and switch back to Rotation Lock, assuming that’s what you want.

It may be that you can just change to Mute then back to Rotation Lock without leaving the Settings app and get the same effect, but I haven’t checked. I’m just happy to have my internal speaker working again for all apps.

And now I’ve written that up, I’m going to watch a programme about a man whose home is even more messy than mine. I may even use the headphones for this one…

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