CNN • Updated 27th March 2019
( CNN ) — There’s a “hot button” at the bottom of the iPad X on which users can do whatever they want, and the screen doesn’t even turn off when pressed.
It’s part of the nifty but little-known feature called private mode, which has been common on iPad since its introduction six years ago.
According to Apple, the private mode button is so useful that it’s there at all times. If a user inadvertently releases it or presses it more than once at once — even accidentally — the touchscreen cannot be unlocked or used.
As CNN’s Evan Perez reports, the feature has been used to unlock Snapchat and to send personal pictures and videos.
But a glitch appears to have made users of the Apple device believe the button has been secretly disabling touchscreen use all along, and caused many to remove the option.
Matt Schechter, the co-founder of www.vrsoft.com and developer of some of the most-used jailbreaking apps, believes the glitch may be deliberate.
Here’s how the flawed “secret button” works.
1. Press it — or don’t.
No, the button cannot be unclicked and does not magically shut off the touchscreen.
2. It’s got your fingerprints all over it.
Apple has incorporated Touch ID, its fingerprint scanner technology, into the iPad’s home button, used for user authentication when in private mode.
Users can’t touch the button and unlock the screen if they’ve already chosen to unlock the iPad. They cannot use it in private mode in the first place.
3. Unexpectedly press it once — again.
Unwanted presses can cause the function button to operate without users’ permission. (You may have had a fight with your mother and her touch-screen Lock button, for example.)
An accidental squeeze of the button can still cause the Apple device to become unlocked if the Touch ID sensor (which does work, even without a Passcode) has already been set to full range.
Unsuccessful presses in private mode can be recognized by the user for over six seconds. But if you press the button again the second time, it’s the end of the world.
The iPad X first went on sale in December 2016. It currently retails for $799. (The first generation iPad starts at $329.)