Controlling Device Screen Rotation

A few days ago I wrote a post about issues that can occur with the APH MATT Connect / Humanware Connect 12, in which apps may not rotate as desired depending on the orientation of the tablet part of the device.  That post can be found HERE.  The solution I identified was the use of the control screen rotation app available for free on the Google Play app store.  What the app does is "force" stubborn apps to rotate to be right-side-up facing regardless of how the device is being held. 

Today I will go over a basic overview of these apps and settings in both Android and iOS devices, with an emphasis on tablets since those devices are where users run into to the most issues.

First, I will highlight the settings that are included in Android and iOS that you should know about and check before deciding if you need a specific app to help you with screen rotation.

iOS Settings and (lack of) Apps

  • In iOS devices like iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches, the setting you want to find is called "Portrait Orientation Lock" on iPhones and iPod Touches, and it is called "Rotation Lock" on iPads.  For simplicity I will refer to it as "Rotation Lock" moving forward, unless specified otherwise.
  • To find the setting in iOS 11, you will need to swipe up from the bottom of the screen and open the Control Center.
  • Graphic of the iOS Control Center view, with the portrait orientation lock icon highlightedLocate the Rotation Lock icon that looks like a lock, with an arrow circling it in a clockwise direction.  See right, where it is emphasized in the photo.
  • If the icon is toggled it will appear white and red like the image to the right.  This means that Rotation Lock is ENABLED.  With the setting enabled, your screen will stay locked in the orientation it currently is at when toggled, either Portrait (vertical) or Landscape (horizontal). iPhones can only lock in Portrait orientation.
  • Users can keep the home screen and apps locked and set to appear in a certain orientation with the Rotation Lock setting.  However, setting the lock in Landscape position will not "Force" all apps to appear in that orientation.  The primary reason is that iOS apps are designed specifically for iPhones or iPads, not always to universally work on both.  Some apps, like the NantMobile Money Reader, are designed just for iPhones and do not have an iPad version; they are only meant to be viewed in Portait orientation.  Users can download the app to their iPads, but it will only ever appear in Portait orientation.
  • You will see below that Android apps can be forced to appear in a given orientation.  However, iOS apps cannot be forced to behave this way, and it is due to the nature of how these apps are required to be designed by Apple.  The only way to ensure effortless rotation is to download an app designed for the iPad.

Android Settings 

  • In Android devices that are fairly up to date, there are a few settings you should check. Start by going to Settings => Display and locate the "Device rotation" setting. 
  • On my personal cell phone, tapping this will reveal two options: "Rotate the contents of the screen," and "Stay in portrait view." 
  • After checking on this, you can also go to the Accessibility section of your settings, and look for the toggle that says "Auto-rotate screen." 
  • For the most part, these two options will control whether or not your home screen and apps rotate when you change your device's orientation between portrait and landscape modes.

Android Apps

  • At this point, you will likely run into situations in which some apps do not want to rotate quite the way you want them to.  They may not rotate at all (fairly rare), they may rotate in one direction but not upside down, etc.  For example, I have an app that will let me look through a camera that is in my infant son's room so I can monitor him while he sleeps.  However, when I turn the video to full screen and hold my phone horizontally, the video will only show right side up if my home button is to the right of the screen.
  • Third party apps on the Google Play store are recommended for you to try out if you need a little more screen and app rotation flexibility.  I will highlight two apps here.  The first is control screen rotation, and the second is Rotation Control.  
  • Control screen rotation works right after being installed, setting itself to display the screen right side up based on the device's gyroscope sensor, no matter what way it is being held.  Here is an image of its settings with descriptions of how each works:
  • Rotation Control works nearly the same way, with similar settings and graphics.  It, like the first app, has settings for determining if it is enabled at device start up, or on-demand by the user.  

I hope I've shared useful information with you all that might be able to solve some of your app rotation frustrations!  If something isn't working right or you have additional needs, please comment and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!

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