A prank that exploits a minor bug in iOS is rippling through the nation’s colleges. It forces people to turn off their iPhone or iPad by making it seemingly impossible to cancel the Slide To Power Off screen when it appears. It doesn’t require the prankster to unlock the device first, so can be done in about 10 seconds by anybody on any iPhone or iPad that’s temporarily unattended.
Here are the steps to repeat the trick:
- On a locked iPhone or iPad slide the camera icon at the bottom right halfway up the screen.
- Without lifting your finger from the screen, press and hold the lock button for three seconds, then release for one second, before pressing again for three seconds.
- Lift your finger from the screen and release the lock button at the same time.
And it’s as simple as that. The Slide To Power Off screen will subsequently appear but the Cancel button at the bottom won’t work. It’s not clear if the bug is fixed in the upcoming iOS 9.3 update.
There is a way around the prank, though. If your phone or iPad is configured so that you can access Siri from the lock screen, asking her to start an app will present the usual passcode/TouchID unlock screen (for example, you might say “Hey Siri, start Safari”). You might need to hold the Home button for slightly longer than usual to summon her, however.
Additionally, in a handful of my tests I was able to simply wait at the Slide to Power Off screen without touching it. After 30 seconds it would time out and return me to the standard lock screen. This didn’t always work, though.