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iPhone Alarm Bug Leads To Mass European Sleep-in 487

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yeah-it-was-my-phone dept.
nk497 writes "A flaw in the alarm clock in iPhone 4s gave Europeans a bit of a lie-in this morning. While the Apple handsets automatically adjusted to daylight savings time, a bug in the alarm system meant many were woken up an hour later than they should have been, after clocks rolled back over the weekend. Annoyingly, Australia was hit by a similar problem last month, but Apple failed to fix the problem or even warn users. American Apple fans, consider yourselves warned. The iOS4 bug can apparently be avoided by using one-off alarms, rather than pre-set regular wake-up calls."
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iPhone Alarm Bug Leads To Mass European Sleep-in

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  • Not just iPhone 4s (Score:4, Informative)

    by Vectormatic (1759674) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:07AM (#34088550)

    my girlfriends 3gs (running iOS 4.x) had the same bug this morning.

    Fortunately, my $99 android phone woke us up at the right time

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by blai (1380673)
      Where did you get a $99 android phone?

      If it were subsidised, I would like you to say it.
    • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:13AM (#34088632)

      my girlfriends 3gs (running iOS 4.x) had the same bug this morning.

      Fortunately, my $99 android phone woke us up at the right time

      I am sure that Apple will fix it shortly, then patent alarm clock apps for mobile phones that adjust automatically for daylight savings.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:21AM (#34088738)

      If the battery had not died overnight.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CortoMaltese (828267)

        If the battery had not died overnight.

        Fortunately, before the battery went flat, my N900 had powered itself off when there was still enough juice on the battery to wake up for a few alarms... :p

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Thud457 (234763)
          Clippy :
          "Your calendar looks pretty full, you've been working too hard lately.
          I've pushed today's schedule back an hour so you can sleep in and get some rest."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mikeroySoft (1659329)
      I just got a new iPhone 4 via advance-replacement repair. I'm in Canada, EST, and the alarm has been going off an hour early since Friday. Beats an hour too late I guess...
      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        Let me guess: yet another stupid programmer who decided that "french language means France"?

    • Funny, MY android phone woke me up one hour early.

      Gotta fix that bug this evening.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      My $19.95 Alarm Clock also woke me up this morning...

      Best part is that it's better than an android or iphone as it never need recharging. I simply replace it's 9V battery every time I replace the fire alarm batteries. Plus I have a snooze that can easily be triggered without even opening my eyes, another feature that is impossible on an iPhone and Android, or any other cellphone from what I discovered.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AndGodSed (968378)

        I have a Samsung star 5233 and I put it face down on my bedside table. The two call buttons on the front protrude just enough that I can snooze it by pressing on the back of the phone, no accuracy needed. Just a good klap on the back and it is back to dreamland...

  • Another day (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pablo_max (626328)

    and another ridiculous Apple story makes it to the front page.

  • Sheesh (Score:5, Funny)

    by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:10AM (#34088582)
    What a bunch of whiners. Apple tries to do something nice for you, give you a little more time in the morning, and this is how you thank them?
  • First post! (Score:5, Funny)

    by A beautiful mind (821714) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:11AM (#34088612)
    I would have gotten a first post if it wouldn't be for those meddling kids at Apple!
  • by noidentity (188756) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:16AM (#34088682)
    The real bug is that we change the time at all, considering all the problems it brings.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by garcia (6573)

      Well that's what we get for coming up with this nonsense that the Sun doesn't rotate around the Earth!

    • Absolutely. It's a net loss economically and all those people who like the "longer" hours, would still have them at summer without DST. Just the simplification of software would be worth the benefit.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Daylight savings saves (hence the name) billions every year in electricity costs. I live in a country that doesn't implement daylight savings, and while it's nice not to have to worry about changing clocks, it's utterly stupid becuase in summer it gets light at 4:30am and the sun goes down at 7:30pm at the latest. Moving that hour of light from 4:30-5:30am and tacking it on to 7:30pm-8:30pm saves a lot of utilities and has all sorts of beneficial effects like reducing car accident rates. The British in W

      • by kidgenius (704962) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:33AM (#34088944)

        The British in WWII set their clocks two hours ahead all year long to save on scace resources in order to defeat national socialism.

        So why not just leave it that way if you can save resources?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tepples (727027)

          So why not just leave it that way if you can save resources?

          Going forward a time zone permanently would waste resources in the morning during the winter. DST is designed to make dawn closer to constant.

      • by Aqualung812 (959532) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:43AM (#34089072)

        Daylight savings saves (hence the name) billions every year in electricity costs."

        Incorrect, DST causes more electricity to be used. It is bad for the economy and the environment. [physorg.com]Hint: Air Conditioning uses more power than lights.

      • by wastedlife (1319259) on Monday November 01, 2010 @11:28AM (#34089722) Homepage Journal

        I call bullshit on the billions. Every study I've seen on DST has mixed results on electricity savings, and often shows losses in other areas like farming. It also costs money to design time-sensitive applications and devices around DST. The sleep schedule disruption also causes issues with workers, and has been shown to increase workplace injuries. While the increase in sunlight exposure is mostly healthy, it also increases the risk of skin cancer. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has a nice section on this with sources.

        Also, while in WW2, DST might have saved on some resources, power usage is now far different. DST mainly affects power usage by residential lighting, which is no longer the primary use of electricity (especially now that incandescent bulbs are being phased out).

  • by balaband (1286038) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:17AM (#34088688)
    With all new fancy (and not so fancy gadgets), you can NEVER be sure has the damn thing changed the time correctly or not. So you wind up watching weather forecast on TV, only to check the clock in the corner.

    Note to engineers everywhere: if your gadget DO change the time, please use some kind of notification that it did so. Otherwise, we can presume that time is wrong, and that we have to manually adjust it
    • Well, with all the fancy gadgets, there's an easy solution:

      Just set all your gadgets to the time the majority of them show.
      Now, I knew there was a reason why I had that many gadgets.

      FYI, the only clocks I had to set this weekend was my old, non-networked alarm clock and the time of my (also non-networked) digital camera. Everythin else knew what to do and did it.

  • Not The Whole Story (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:19AM (#34088706)

    The story fails to mention several key details.
    1. The problem only manifests if you have a recurring alarm set.
    2. The alram goes off an hour late if it was set before for DST switch.
    3. The alarm goes off an hour early if it was set after the DST switch.

    • That makes a lot more sense. I was wondering why this story wasn't about a bunch of people who woke up early instead of late.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:23AM (#34088760)
    Not one comment yet about the real culprit here: daylight savings time. If we didn't have it anywhere in the world, then programmers wouldn't have to worry about when DST happens in different timezones (or which places have DST and which don't), or worry about what to do with log files or anything else when time jumps an hour.

    Someone remind me please what we're saving? It's not electricity, because we use lightbulbs before sunrise and after sunset in summer and winter.
    • by kidgenius (704962)
      Yes, but you look at a day's schedule for an average person. You wake up, you get ready, and you are off to work, probably less than 2 hours after you've woken up. When you get home, you are most likely awake for something like 4-5 hours before going to bed. So you tend to be at your home longer in the evenings than you are in the morning. Thus, more lighting needed in the evening at your home if you don't have sunlight streaming through your windows.
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Yes! DST should the culprit. In fact, i would go a bit further, why to have such complex timezones if anyway don't always say when is day and when is night? Lets go all the world to UTC and a fixed clock will work right everywhere, even in space (unless you travel too fast, of course)

      But that don't take out the blame from the software. DSTs are around since a century ago, so you have to deal with them. And is something usually well handled by software, unless you have badly defined the timezones or have a c
    • by js3 (319268)

      Not one comment yet about the real culprit here: daylight savings time. If we didn't have it anywhere in the world, then programmers wouldn't have to worry about when DST happens in different timezones (or which places have DST and which don't), or worry about what to do with log files or anything else when time jumps an hour.

      Someone remind me please what we're saving? It's not electricity, because we use lightbulbs before sunrise and after sunset in summer and winter.

      DST does save energy. It may not happen in the place you live but the times for sundown/sunrise does change significantly where I live depending on the time of year. It could be 8pm with the sun still out one part of the year and 5pm in darkness another time of the year. The culprit here is the phone, with auto DST there's no reason for this bug, shame on the programmers. It's a completely silly bug.

    • by StripedCow (776465) on Monday November 01, 2010 @12:39PM (#34090930)

      Not one comment yet about the real culprit here: daylight savings time.

      This sounds an awful lot like: the real problem is that you're holding it the wrong way.

  • This would have never happened if iOS was open sourced.

    Under a thousand eyes, you won't oversleep.
  • While the Apple handsets automatically adjusted to daylight savings time, a bug in the alarm system meant many were woken up an hour later than they should have been, after clocks rolled back over the weekend.

    How does this bug work?

    OK lets work it inductively and assume the phone stores all times internally as local time and trusts the time the cellphone providers send out. So, "spring forward fall back" so your 5am wakeup remains at ... 5am.

    Well lets try option 2. Maybe they store it all internally as UTC and get local time from the cellphone tower. So your 5am local daylight time is X UTC. "fall back" to regular time and that wakeup is now X-0100 UTC. The alarm program reads the local time, converts to UT

    • The other oddity is people use their phone as an alarmclock? A smartphone with a battery life measured in hours, probably dead by wakeup time?

      I don't use my phone as an alarm clock but I do leave it on the charger overnight.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      This bug don't work, woke up an hour later and got fired.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by musicalmicah (1532521)

      The other oddity is people use their phone as an alarmclock? A smartphone with a battery life measured in hours, probably dead by wakeup time? I'm with the modern generation in that I haven't worn a wristwatch in over a decade, but is it a generational thing that people don't own/use alarm clocks? What do you glance at, at 2am, when you just want to see the time if you momentarily wake up, etc? Get the tiny little phone, unlock it, put on the glasses/contacts, and read the time?

      Yes. You plug it in first. Unlocking a phone can generally be done by touch after you've owned it for more than a couple days. And bringing it to your face is a lot easier than sitting up to see the alarm clock if you don't happen to have the right furniture for placing your alarm clock in a better position, which is quite common when you're a 20-something in a cramped apartment. No need to put on glasses, though. At least not for me.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      The other oddity is people use their phone as an alarmclock? A smartphone with a battery life measured in hours, probably dead by wakeup time? I'm with the modern generation in that I haven't worn a wristwatch in over a decade, but is it a generational thing that people don't own/use alarm clocks?

      I'm from your generation, and I used a pocket watch when everyone else used wristwatches (could never stand those things, although I wanted a calculator watch for the geek cred). I have a couple clock radios, but I use them as clocks. My alarm is my phone because it's always around, and the charger is on my nightstand, so it won't run down. I can set my next day's wakeup time at any time during the day, and choose any noise. Maybe the younger set don't even own clock radios, but I think they probably ha

  • My iPhone 3g did not have this problem this morning and I am in Europe. Are there people here who really experienced this?
  • Jim Furyk (Score:3, Funny)

    by Trip6 (1184883) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:35AM (#34088970)

    Hey, Jim Furyk's iPhone made him oversleep and he still won the FedEx cup worth 10 MEEELION dollars, so quitcher whinin!

  • Not to excuse the iPhone bug, but I never knew about it until I read this story, probably because I live a place without this whole DST business.

    But really, which century are we living in here? Why would anyone still wants to adjust their clocks twice a year, and what are we "saving" here exactly?

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:52AM (#34089210) Homepage

      But really, which century are we living in here? Why would anyone still wants to adjust their clocks twice a year, and what are we "saving" here exactly?

      People's sanity. :-P

      I live in a place with DST -- basically it means in the summer, we get extra-long days so it's light until late into the evening (almost 9pm around the solstice). It shifts the hours of usable daylight into hours people might actually use during the summer instead of it being light out at 5am or something stupid.

      It also makes up for the fact that in winter it's dark when you get up and leave for work, and dark by the time you leave for home after work. In winter there's a good 1.5 month period where you don't get to see much daylight -- as short as about 8h42m of daylight. DST doesn't fix this, but it gives us some of it back in the summer.

      Much like you can't fathom why we have it -- if you grew up with it, you can't fathom why everyone else doesn't have it.

  • by Animaether (411575) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:56AM (#34089282) Journal

    I see a lot of posts with hate for DST.. that's fine, I'd be happy if it were abolished as well.

    But now back to there being a bug in how the alarm thing is handled on the iPhone. How does that bug even exist?

    If the alarm is set for a particular time, say "7am".. then what does it matter whether or not the clock went back an hour at 3am?
    I can understand the alarm app going a bit batty if the clock went back at 8am (essentially the alarm going off -twice- that day), but given the actual circumstances... how did the alarm decide that it should instead be going off at 8am? The clock, presumably, does give the correct time.. so it's not like its internal time functions don't know what time it actually is. I'm confused. Is this just some manner of shoddy coding going on?

    What's worse is how Apple is handling it... i.e. 'not'. Most of America (some states ignore DST already) is up for its DST change next week. I guess most people are now warned by the media attention (where was that when it was NZ / AU?).

    • by Jahava (946858) on Monday November 01, 2010 @11:30AM (#34089750)

      I see a lot of posts with hate for DST.. that's fine, I'd be happy if it were abolished as well.

      But now back to there being a bug in how the alarm thing is handled on the iPhone. How does that bug even exist?

      If the alarm is set for a particular time, say "7am".. then what does it matter whether or not the clock went back an hour at 3am? I can understand the alarm app going a bit batty if the clock went back at 8am (essentially the alarm going off -twice- that day), but given the actual circumstances... how did the alarm decide that it should instead be going off at 8am? The clock, presumably, does give the correct time.. so it's not like its internal time functions don't know what time it actually is. I'm confused. Is this just some manner of shoddy coding going on?

      I'll venture a guess:

      Applications, especially ones using phone APIs, usually aren't running 24/7. At a high level, what they will do is, in some manner, register for an event with the operating system. They will then idle indefinitely until that event occurs, at which point the operating system will give the application execution time and it will respond to that event. The event can be several things, including "when the user taps the screen" and "if the phone is powered on", and notably (for this discussion) can be based off of time, such as "8 hours from now".

      My guess is that, when an alarm is set, the alarm calculates the amount of time in the future until it needs to be sounded, then registers with the OS to be woken that much time later (probably via some form of nanosleep iOS API derivative). If the alarm fails to factor in DST when calculating that time difference, then it'll get its event later (or earlier, or whatever) than it was expecting, and sound (and then probably calculate the next time difference and sleep until then).

      On the surface, an alarm application could register for more periodic events (clock ticks, UI update loop iterations, or just sleep for seconds at a time) and evaluate if it should sound periodically. This would have easily avoided the DST issue. The problem here is that each time the event gets dispatched, the phone has to wake up to handle it, and such periodic waking would cost unnecessary battery. In fact, the OS knows how / when / for how long to sleep based on scheduler details derived from some form of these event registrations. Applications in general (and especially on battery-consuming devices) should attempt to register for the least number of events as possible, hence (I'm guessing) why they chose the time delay calculation option instead of a periodic one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gnasher719 (869701)

        On the surface, an alarm application could register for more periodic events (clock ticks, UI update loop iterations, or just sleep for seconds at a time) and evaluate if it should sound periodically. This would have easily avoided the DST issue.

        Not at all. The problem here is that if you want an alarm at 8am every morning, that's always 24 hours after the previous time, except one day where it is 23 hours later, and one day where it is 25 hours later. How you measure the time is irrelevant, as long as you know that on this one day the alarm must come after 23 hours and not 24.

  • by kubitus (927806) on Monday November 01, 2010 @10:58AM (#34089308)
    most Europeans will have had no problems

    as Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cap Verde, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Irland, Italy, Liechtestein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the Vatican have an official holiday.

    I do not know about the US. But the author of the original message must be pretty Con-European!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by EmagGeek (574360)

      I'm starting to think it would be easier to keep track of when Europe is NOT on holiday, rather then when they ARE.

      "yes we have 7 fixed working days every year, and 3 floating work days."

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