A few days ago my colleague, Mia Aquino, put out the following call for urgent iPhone assistance on Twitter:
Home button isn't working on my iPhone. Can't get back to home without shutting down. Any ideas?
— Mia Aquino (@SocialMia) February 5, 2013
Mia's not alone: Complete home button malfunction is one of the more common maladies befalling iPhones, if Apple's support forums are any indication.
There are all sorts of suggestions for fixes in the link above: Recalibrate the home button; blow in the charging port like it's an old NES game; dab some WD-40 on the button itself. Or, the old reliable: Visit the Apple Store and cry helplessly until the Geniuses give you a new phone to make you leave.
Any of these might do the trick for you. Failing those, though, there is a sure-fire way to gain access to your home button without tinkering with or possibly damaging your hardware that I've had friends employ and enjoy in the past.
Fact is, you can get your home button on the touchscreen, available for you at any point that the screen is powered on. Go into Settings, and then General, and then Accessibility, and then Assistive Touch. Turn Assistive Touch on, and you'll see a persistent white dot in the top left corner of your screen.
This is your new home button, and more: Tapping it will open a menu that can take you home, launch Siri, lock your screen and turn the volume up and down, among other features.
You can drag that button anywhere on the screen you desire, pinning it down wherever you find most convenient.
It's a fantastic feature for those who find themselves with a malfunctioning home button, and also seems far safer to use while driving. Those who have difficulty with the iPhone's home or volume buttons -- men and women with arthritis, for example -- might also find it much easier to navigate their phones with an on-screen button.
Got any other tips to fix or circumvent a broken home button? I'd love to read them below. And if you have any other personal tech questions, drop me an email at email@example.com and I might just feature it on the site.