I have heard on the internets (meaning: I wouldn't talk about something under NDA), that the orientation lock on my iPad was no more an orientation lock, but a mute button. Oh rage, oh désespoir, oh vieillesse ennemie! ###Well, better now than later### It is he first major update to the iOS OS for the iPad. Thus this update comes at a perfect time to change or correct things that were a bit messy at first launch. The fact that the lock does something different on the iPad vs the iPhone/iPod touch is messy in itself. You wouldn't like it to happen between 4.3 and 4.4, would you? ###Better during the Beta than during the launch### You remember how the adding of a video capability on the iPhone 3GS broke so many things on iOS 3? You want this to happen again or do you want the developers to get a feel for it and say if this is just plain wrong or bearable? At least you have a population to test it with, not just the people who actually build this thing. ###Well, I like the orientation lock### Don't get me wrong: I loved my orientation lock. Actually this change is the only thing that irritates me or might irritate me if I could talk about it. It was easy to change, natural, and good. But the design was not consistent: that area is about sound. ###When software pulls hardware back### I think the orientation lock was a last minute change / addition in iOS3.2 and iPad launch. During the launch, I remember John Gruber saying that the switch was a mute button. Then afterwards it became an orientation lock. Please correct me if I'm wrong. As the iPad is a bigger piece of stuff, the orientation is more vital than on the iPhone, especially if you lay it flat on a table. So they had to make an orientation lock because testers at the presentation said they were uneasy with that. But at that time, they were just finishing iOS 3.2, with all the new stuff, and they didn't have a place where to put the lock (no multitask/ipod menu). So they used the mute lock. Like they decided to double press the home button for multitasking in iOS4 (can I have my preferred app back please?). That's my wild guess. Apple is keeping the design to a minimum, but packing so many features into their devices that sometimes you wish they looked like a HTC phone with 5 buttons, or a Windows program interface. But they don't which is nice, but also has its flaws.
-- Update: if you don't like it, file a rdar.