How To: Make Your iPhone's Portrait Orientation Lock Change Automatically Whenever You Open & Close Specific Apps

Make Your iPhone's Portrait Orientation Lock Change Automatically Whenever You Open & Close Specific Apps

I always keep my iPhone's Portrait Orientation Lock on so that my screen doesn't randomly rotate while I'm lying down. However, there are certain apps that I do turn it off for. It's kind of a pain since you have to swipe down the Control Center and toggle the orientation lock — but that ends now. Instead of doing it manually, a new iOS update can automate app orientations for you.

This feature is a part of the latest beta for iOS 14.5, but it will make its way to iPhones this spring in the iOS 14.5 stable build.

Utilizing the new orientation lock feature isn't as simple as toggling on switches for each app in Settings, unfortunately, but it can be set from the Shortcuts app. So instead of having to swipe and tap each time you need to toggle the rotation lock, the automation does all of the dirty work for you.

Here, we'll create two automations in Shortcuts. Assuming you keep Portrait Orientation Lock enabled, the first one turns it off when entering the chosen apps, while the second one turns it back on when exiting them. If you always have Portrait Orientation Lock off, you could have the first automation turn it on when opening certain apps, while the second one will turn it back off.

Best of all, this feature works for more than one app at a time, so if you want to toggle Portrait Orientation Lock for several apps in the same automation, you can easily do so. In my case, I'll be using Twitter, but you can choose any app or combination of apps installed on your iPhone that you want.

Required

  • iOS 14.5 beta 2 or later: The feature is only in iOS 14.5, which hasn't been released yet. To try it out now, you need to join the developer beta or public beta and make sure you're using beta 2 or later.
  • Shortcuts app: While this app comes preinstalled in iOS 14, you may have deleted it. If so, you can re-install it for free from the App Store.

Step 1: Change the Orientation Lock When Opening an App

First, we'll create an automation in Shortcuts to change the orientation lock when you open any chosen app.

As mentioned before, I usually have my Portrait Orientation Lock on. Still, I like the orientation lock to be off when I use Twitter, so I can easily watch videos in landscape mode. So I'm creating an automation that disables Portrait Orientation Lock whenever I enter Twitter. If you always have Portrait Orientation Lock off, you may want to turn it on whenever you enter reading apps, such as Apple News.

Launch the Shortcuts app and open the "Automation" tab at the bottom. Next, tap "Create Personal Automation." If you already have one or more automations set up, tap the plus (+) icon instead, then "Create Personal Automation."

Now, choose the action that will trigger your automation. In this case, you want the Portrait Orientation Lock to change whenever you open a specific app, so choose the "App" option.

Then, tap on "Choose" and select the app or apps you want from your list of installed ones. If you want to use the automation on more than one app, just make sure each is checked in the list, then hit "Done" in the top right. (You can always come back and edit the automation later if you want to add or subtract apps.)

Back on the New Automation page, it'll say "Any of [#] Apps" if you choose more than one. If not, you'll just see the name of the one app next to App. Also, make sure that "Is Opened" is checked, which should be by default. Hit "Next" to continue.

In the automation, tap "Add Action" or the search bar at the bottom, then search for "Set Orientation Lock" and tap the action when it appears in the results.

Now, you might want to configure the action for your automation. You could leave the action as "Toggle orientation lock" so that whenever you open the app, it'll toggle it on or off based on whether it was off or on before. But this could get pretty confusing.

To simplify things, tap "Toggle," then select "Turn" to change the action. Instead of the Portrait Orientation Lock toggling on or off when you enter any chosen app, it'll make the lock on or off, depending on what you choose.

Now you must choose to either turn the orientation lock off or on. I want the Portrait Orientation Lock to turn off when I enter Twitter, so I'll tap "On" to switch it to "Off."

Finally, hit "Next" in the top right to finish creating the automation. You probably don't want to be asked to run the automation every time it's triggered, so toggle off "Ask Before Running" and tap on "Don't Ask" when it appears. Tap "Done" in the top right to wrap everything up.

Step 2: Change the Orientation Lock When Closing an App

The puzzle's final piece is to create another automation that does the opposite of the first one. So if you have the first one disabling Portrait Orientation Lock whenever you open an app, you'll need a companion automation to reenable Portrait Orientation Lock when the app is closed. Likewise, if your first one turns on Portrait Orientation Lock, this second one should turn it off.

This second automation is nearly identical to the first one, minus a couple of differences, so start a new automation just as you did in Step 1. Next, choose the same app or apps and make sure "Is Opened" is switched to "Is Closed" before hitting "Next." This option works whether you close the app or force-quit it.

After you add a "Set Orientation Lock" action, switch it to "Turn orientation lock On" or "Turn orientation lock Off," depending on how you set up the first automation. In my case, I'll set the action to "On" because I want it to turn back on whenever I leave Twitter. Continue creating the automation, and you'll see both automation listed as active.

Step 3: Make Sure Your Automations Work

Once your two automations are complete, you can test them out by entering and exiting the app or apps you set. Below is a GIF of what happens when I open and close Twitter. You can tell the automation is running when the Shortcuts notification appears at the top of the screen.

Step 4: Disable Those Annoying Notifications (Optional)

If you don't want to see a notification every time you open or close the app or apps you created automations for, there's an easy way to disable them. It will disable most other automation notifications, so if you like seeing them for other automations, you may want to keep them on. If you want them gone, it's as easy as turning them off in Screen Time.

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Cover photo, screenshots, and GIF by Nelson Aguilar/Gadget Hacks

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