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The new Apple iPhone replaces the mute switch with action button

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

If you're looking to buy Apple's latest flagship phone, the iPhone 15 Pro, you might be in for a little surprise. That's because the mute switch, a feature that's been around since the original iPhone, is being replaced by what Apple is calling an action button.

DEVIN COLDEWEY: If you hold it down, it can still mute your phone or switch it to ring. But it can also launch a bunch of other shortcuts, like launching the camera or the Notes app.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Devin Coldewey is a technology reporter at TechCrunch. Now, when the iPhone first came out, being able to quickly switch off sounds and alerts was critical to avoid disruptions. I mean, you need it in a radio studio, for example. Who wanted to hear this in the middle of an important business meeting?

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE RINGING)

INSKEEP: Oh, sorry. My phone.

MARTÍNEZ: It still happens every once in a while. But we now use our iPhones for so much more than calls.

COLDEWEY: They're not just phones, they're our computers where you get notifications all the time. It's perfectly normal to have your phone buzz in the middle of a meeting or dinner or even a date, and you just check it.

INSKEEP: Although, you may get a frosty stare. For Coldewey, the end of the mute button seemed inevitable.

COLDEWEY: It's a change in philosophy, but it's also not really a conspiracy to make you be on your phone all the time. I think we were already on our phones all the time.

MARTÍNEZ: And the action button will, in theory, make it easier to customize the iPhone for quick access to that camera for that fast selfie.

COLDEWEY: Losing this switch, it kind of sucks. But it also might be really good for a lot of people.

INSKEEP: Oh, I'm sorry. I was checking my phone. Am I supposed to - oh, I am supposed to say something here. Just like that, it's time to say goodbye to what Coldewey calls the iPhone's last significant moving part, a physical switch.

MARTÍNEZ: You beat me to the joke. But if you must have a moving part, just buy a different iPhone model. Problem solved.

(SOUNDBITE OF WU-TANG CLAN, DEL THE FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN AND AESOP ROCK SONG, "PRESERVATION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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