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Do Not Disturb bug will fix itself, says Apple, as developers figure its cause


Apple has decided not to disturb its faulty Do Not Disturb (DND) function on its iOS 6 software. Instead, it has told users that they should wait until 7 January 2013 - when the bug will resolve itself without any further action.

That has left people puzzled as to how Apple is sure the fix will happen (though it can be confirmed by changing the date on the phone). But some developers now reckon they know the cause, which lie in its interaction with the Unix operating system that underpins iOS.

One of the most intriguing suggestions, from iOS developer Patrick McCarron, is that 6 January 2013 marks the last day of the last ISO week of 2012.

The "DND" bug affects users who have scheduled the function to come on at particular times of day or night. When enabled, owners of devices running iOS 6 would be unbothered by phone calls, email and text notifications except from a select group of people they nominate.

Until 31 December, DND could be scheduled to come on and turn off for a set period during the day or night.

But since 1 January, the scheduling system has failed.

Apple has now acknowledged the problem, putting up a support document which baldly states:

After January 1st, 2013, Do Not Disturb mode stays on past its scheduled end time.

Do Not Disturb scheduling feature will resume normal functionality after January 7, 2013. Before this date, you should manually turn the Do Not Disturb feature on or off.

Why that date? Apple has given no explanation. But as McCarron explained on Twitter: "f you use a [Unix] date format string of YYYY (vs yyyy) you get 2012 until Jan 7 when it becomes 2013. Easy mistake to make, I have."

Matt Drance, a former Cocoa evangelist at Apple, pitched in - suggesting that the problem lies somewhere between the Unix codebase and the DND timing system itself. (iOS is based on BSD Unix, whereas Android is based on Linux, which is a different "flavour" of Unix, and may explain why Android phones aren't affected by similar bugs.)

"This sort of thing is almost always a lost translation between user-selected date+time and UNIX timestamp," he said, adding that "Without seeing the code it's all uninformed guessing based on mistakes [one has] made in the past". Date programming, he added, "is really hard."

McCarron's explanation requires a little explanation itself: the "YYYY" format is a Unix-style date formatting which gives the full four-digit year. But it is ISO-based.


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