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The iPhone DST Bug - Will Alarms Be An Hour Early Or An Hour Late?

Nov 5 2010, 5:36pm CDT | by , in News | Apple

Assumed CNN Inaccuracy Adds Even More Confusion Over iPhone DST Bug
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Online reports don't make sense


We're already having enough difficulty trying to figure out how Apple could have made a Daylight Savings Time iPhone bug, but now media reports have us scratching our heads in confusion as to what will actually happen to users with recurring alarms set.

By this time, iPhone owners have hopefully heard that a bug in the iOS operating system will cause the device to miss Daylight Savings Time this weekend, requiring users to manually reset the clocks after the time change goes into effect.

On November 7 at 2:00 AM, clocks in the US and Canada will need to go back to 1:00 AM. We all get an extra hour of sleep this weekend. If you own a computer, cable box, or pretty much any smartphone other than an iPhone, this adjustment will happen automatically.

But on the iPhone, it won't. It simply won't recognize the switch.

The software inside the iPhone 4, iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS, and virtually all iPod Touches has a glitch that prevents it from recognizing Daylight Savings Time. And not just in the US. This glitch has already plagued iPhone owners in Europe and Australia this year.

Any reasonably-minded person would then assume that iPhones will be an hour ahead of the real time after 2 AM on Sunday. So if the unadjusted clock reads 6:30 PM, it's actually 7:30 PM. So if you have an alarm set for 8:00 Monday morning, your alarm would assumedly go off at 7:00 instead.

However, CNN is reporting something different. The prestigious news source says alarms will go off an hour LATE. We're still trying to wrap our heads around how this would happen, as are a lot of commenters on the article's page.

But the CNN writer who made the report, John D. Sutter, addressed them by saying in an update, "There have been a few comments about whether the app would actually wake you up an hour early. That's not the case. If you don't set a one-time alarm, the iPhone would wake you up an hour late. Thanks for the questions, though, and let me know if you have others."

ZDNet shares in our confusion, and other publications are being dodgy about whether your alarms will go off an hour early or an hour late. In Europe, where the same issue came up last month, there were people who commented that their alarms did go off an hour late, even though it seemed to defy all logic. But then other reports suggested alarms went off early for some, and late for others.

So now we don't even know for sure how this glitch will affect the iPhone, and just trying to manipulate it by setting a different alarm time may not work, depending on which news story you read.


Our only advice is to just make sure you manually reset your iPhone clock when you wake up Sunday morning. If you need to wake up Sunday for church or work, then you might want to set an alarm on another device - like your TV or another phone.

Apple does promise to have a patch out later this month, but by then it'll be too late. At least it won't happen next year, though.

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