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Scott P. Richert

Apple and the Twelve Days of Christmas

By January 3, 2013

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One of the best features in Apple's iOS 6 (the latest version of the software that powers the iPhone, the iPad and iPad mini, and the iPod touch) is a scheduled "Do Not Disturb" function. Every night at 10 P.M., my iPhone quits sending me notifications of emails, tweets, Facebook updates, and a myriad other things, and even sends any phone calls directly to voicemail. Come 5 A.M., the notifications start up again. Since I charge my iPhone 5 each night on my bedside table, I'm not disturbed by odd noises and light from the screen. It's a simple feature, but one I've come to love.

On January 1, 2013, however, I discovered that my iPhone apparently wanted me to stay at peace all day: Come 5 A.M., the "Do Not Disturb" function remained on. I made a joke to my wife about Apple being considerate to those who had overindulged in their New Year's Eve revelry, and then forgot about it until later that afternoon, when I saw a story on 9to5Mac that made it clear that the failure of the function to turn off was a bug, not a feature.

On January 2, Apple acknowledged the bug but told iOS 6 users not to worry: Everything would return to normal on January 7, without the need for a software update. In the meantime, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users could activate and deactivate "Do Not Disturb" mode manually—a small inconvenience, but one worth suffering for such a great feature.

But what is it about January 7 that's so special? Why would the feature start working again on that day?

Apple didn't explain, but I like to think that, somewhere deep in Apple's headquarters at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California, there's an iOS programmer who decided we could all use a little break from the constant barrage of electronic communications during the Twelve Days of Christmas. Consider it a little Christmas present not to have your attention drawn away from your family to your iDevice—and to have your children pay more attention to you for a change.

Sadly, though, this bug-that-I-like-to-think-is-a-feature will expire on Epiphany, and not last all the way through to the end of the liturgical season of Christmas, at Candlemas (the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord). On January 7, when you are taking down your Christmas tree, your iPhone will be beeping and hooping and ringing once again.

Of course, if you have come to enjoy the silence, there's nothing to prevent you from leaving your "Do Not Disturb" function on all of the time, and letting your iPhone serve you, rather than you serving your iPhone. You can learn more about setting up my favorite feature at Sam Costello's About.com iPhone/iPod site.

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