Monday, 3 June 2013

No, your iPad isn't possessed

There was a very strange and disturbing event yesterday. My partner's iPad screen started shaking - and random apps seemed to open and close with astonishing rapidity including filling in webforms with random gibberish. It was even hard to get the thing to turn off as the usual "swipe to turn off" would not work. I just held the power button down until it turned off.

While it is not impossible for someone to take over an iPad, the circumstances would have to be very unusual. And my partner is not the sort of person to fall for any of the gimmicks I found with a quick Google search. I have just come back from a visit with the genius bar at the Apple store, and they confirmed that what I had done was right.

With any computer (and most peripherals) performing oddly, power down (and unplug from the wall if appropriate) will often reset things. Known in the trade as the "cold boot". Most people leave their systems running - just closing the lid of the laptop or closing the iPad smart cover. It's easy to get an app out of the way by using the close fingers gesture or the home button, but neither actually closes the app. If you use four fingers to swipe upwards you can see how many apps are running. And in this case it was a lot. So close them by holding a finger on the app icon until it wobbles and a "no entry" sign appears on the top left corner. Then tap the icon. It is good practice to shut apps when they are not being used as it frees up resources, and reduces the chance of conflicts.

The genius also ran a diagnostic which showed which app had been crashing. That I uninstalled and replaced with another that does the same thing. It was only a game, after all. To uninstall an app simply hold the icon on the main screen (not the one revealed by the four finger swipe). Once again the icons all wobble and the "no entry" sign appears. Hold the app icon and then follow the prompts.

The strange behaviour was caused simply by overload of the touch screen interface - and probably a conflict between open apps. Clean up is easy and straightforward.


Or so we thought. The problem re-emerged a few days later - when there were only two apps open. So I once again backed up the iPad to the cloud and went back to talk to another genius. By the way, do not use Google to locate the Oakridge store - that's in California. Do it carefully on the address to make sure you get Vancouver BC! This time they said they would reset the iPad to its original condition. I was asked not to restore the backup until I was sure that this had worked. Just as well, because it didn't, which proved we had a hardware problem - not a software conflict. This time my partner took the iPad in herself - and found that they had set aside a brand new iPad, with my name on it, just in case.

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