Apple has made its minimalist reputation by paring down hardware controls to the bare necessities, and one of the more useful switches has been the screen rotation lock on the side of the iPad. Originally intended as a mute switch, as on the iPhone, the control changed function ahead of the slate's launch and became far more useful in the process. Now, it seems, Apple has decided to reverse engines and, post-iOS 4.2, change the control back to its original purpose with no software workaround.
As with iOS 4.2 on the iPhone 4, screen rotation on the updated iPad is apparently controlled by a software toggle in the multitasking bar. A 9 to 5 Mac reader emailed Steve Jobs to ask if there would be a user-changeable option to revert it back to its previous function, and was told "nope" by the Apple CEO.
It's a decision that is already provoking strong reactions from iPad owners, who have already got attached to the little hardware switch and its current abilities. Here's hoping Apple concede and at least put an option in the settings pages to swap it back.