Mute is not Mute

I thought it was an inconsiderate lout, but we can blame bad UI for stopping a symphony at the New York Philharmonic.

The author of the post argues, I think correctly, “for silencing everything when you mute the phone” but then Daring Fireball runs with it, making the case that mute means mute only some things.

A wrongheaded idea all around, and not only because this muddies the very meaning of the mute switch. If we lived in a world where mute on my stereo mutes everything but the vocals, mute on my TV turned off everything but the commercials, and mute on my laptop speakers muted everything but email alerts, then you might have something.

Gruber argues “thereā€™d be thousands of people oversleeping every single day because they went to bed the night before unaware that the phone was still in silent mode.” Hyperbolic to be sure, but I hear no similar plea for the thousands of calls missed because people were unaware their phone was in silent mode.

And how should users mute their alarms for “edge cases” like going to the symphony, or a movie, or a lecture, or a quiet dinner? By disabling the alarms individually? What of the “thousands of people oversleeping every single day” because they went to bed the night before forgetting they disabled their phone’s alarm?

Hmm… if only there were a simple hardware switch for turning all the phone’s sounds on or off!