the mutator

The behavior of the iPhone’s Mute switch has long been a topic of debate. While switching it off will silence most of the handset’s sounds, it won’t keep alarms and other system functions quiet, which as you can imagine can make for some embarrassing moments.

And that’s where the Mutator comes in. The tiny accessory fits in your iPhone’s headphone jack, and promises to ease your mind when in meetings, movie theaters and other ‘please silence your cell phone’ situations by ensuring your handset won’t make a sound…

Actually, the Mutator works with all iOS devices. The tiny, pyramid-shaped device will fit into any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, and activating it is as simple as plugging it into the headphone jack and twisting it 90 degrees. You’ll feel a tactile click when it’s in position.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, the Mutator isn’t an actual product yet. It’s in the prototype stage, and the developer has taken to Kickstarter to raise money for mass production. At the moment, it’s at just under $10,000 of its $24,000 goal, with 26 days left.

If you’d like to support the project, a pledge of just $13 gets your name on the ‘early bird’ pre-order list. The Mutator is expected to start shipping sometime in October, and it will come in both white and black colors, so you can get one to match the color of your device.

Honestly, I always check to ensure that my iPhone is on mute and there are no alarms set before heading into a movie or meeting, so I don’t think this is for me. But, I imagine it would be a godsend for some of the less-experienced iPhone users. So kudos to them on the idea.

What do you think of the Mutator?

  • Useless

    • Cameron Chao

      For you and a lot of people. But not all.

    • ReanimationXP

      Apple needs to add a ‘quiet alarms’ feature to Do Not Disturb. Then it’ll be completely useless.

      Also, it’s not compatible with any case in existence.

      • ronadair

        “Also, it’s not compatible with any case in existence.”

        Yet. πŸ™‚

      • ReanimationXP

        Meh. Still useless and overpriced. If you want a truly great suggestion, add an LED to the thing so I can actually remember to remove/disable it. If possible, make it flash if there are notifications or sound as well. Might require a jailbreak tweak for that one, but guess who you’re pitching to πŸ™‚

        Do all that and keep it $13, and I’d consider it. Spidey sense tells me Apple has already heard this complaint though, and it will be part of Do Not Disturb 2.0.

      • ronadair

        Thanks for your thoughts ReanimationXP. Someone pointed out MyLED to us a few days ago. It sounds like it might be exactly what you need (although it won’t twist to deactivate, and I’m not sure how nice it plays with cases).

        As far as DND 2.0 is concerned, I’m not sure that’s the case. After all, most (if not all) of the sounds Mutator is so valuable against are sounds that Apple considers user-prompted sounds. Siri, videos, songs, apps/games…DND is for the times you are sleeping, working, or otherwise engaged and don’t want to be interrupted by some outside notification. Apple has made clear that the “mute” switch should NOT mute videos, songs, some apps, and obviously they have chosen to not mute Siri when it’s engaged. That wasn’t an accident, nor was it necessarily a “wrong” decision β€” it’s simply the one they made.

      • ReanimationXP

        Agreed that that’s obviously their current stance, I’m just saying you’re obviously not the only one with this complaint, and an alternative mode, or even a jailbreak tweak for this purpose, would be a viable (and probably free) solution to the problem.

        I wouldn’t put them reconsidering out of the question just yet. Ironically this is the type of niche complaints they tend to “fix” rather than the bigger glaring issues like quickreply and lack of a settings panel. Not meaning to diss your product, just my 2 cents. πŸ˜›

        As for MyLED, I talked to them too, and they refused to acknowledge that what they were trying to do with notifications wasn’t possible outside of the use of private API’s (aka jailbreaking). For that reason, the project, like so many other kickstarters for accessories that don’t fully understand the sandbox limitations (*cough* iExpander), seems to have gone dark. Also, it does suppsedly enable/disable with rotation. If it ever sees the light of day.

  • disqus_TJHtAb4bDg

    Get an old headphone pair, cut the cord. Ta-dah

    • Aber1Kanobee

      Oh, and don’t forget to glue a tiny plastic triangle on top…but in all seriousness, it is kinda’ awesome. WIll be backing this if I still can…The ability to turn it on/off with 90 rotation is sick.

      • ReanimationXP

        90 rotations to turn it off? what a pain in the ass!

  • Cameron Nelms

    Well, all you have to do is get an old headphone jack, cut it short, insulate the wire, and bam! It’s a mutator!

    • ronadair

      Cameron β€” I’m the one that developed Mutator. I actually started with what you recommend. It definitely works, but it’s kind of a hassle β€” more than it might seem at first. The thing that makes Mutator “Mutate” is the fact that it doesn’t need to be removed in order to deactivate the silent mode. The custom tip allows you to twist the device 90Β° to activate/deactivate, allowing you to keep it in the phone even when you want to use your built-in speakers. Lowers the chance of loss, and also makes it more convenient for day-to-day situations.

      I hope that all makes sense. Have a great evening!

      • Cameron Nelms

        Hmm, that makes it more complicated! I didn’t mean to make it sound simple! I am sincerely sorry if I hurt you in any way. You have a great evening also!

      • ronadair

        Not at all, Cameron. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      • The mutator is a pretty good idea actually. I’m not sure why but I have seen many negative remarks about the product. Surely, it may not appeal to everyone especially those who use headsets all the time, but this product is really intuitive and as an added bonus, it works as a dust stopper as well. Basically, a dust stopper with added features of muting your phone. Great idea, great concept. Hope to see your project get launched soon!

      • ronadair

        Thanks, Edmond. Glad you like it!

      • ReanimationXP

        The reason it’s getting so much negative feedback is it can be emulated in a 90% capacity for free using junk around the house, and it’s $13. Similarly, dust cover? Piece of scotch tape. Completely functional, flush, and near invisible. Ta da!

      • marcus1324

        Ron the Mutator is a great idea. My phone makes sounds when silenced all the time and I will definitely be getting a Mutator for my iPhone 5S. Great idea.

      • ronadair

        Mine too Marcus. I’ve been surprised a few too many times. πŸ˜‰ I appreciate your support!

      • RarestName

        That’s because Cameron didn’t read the article.

      • ronadair

        Mutator definitely isn’t for everyone. I really wanted a version which looked more sleek and that I could leave in pretty much all of the time (hence the project). Some people are ok with a DIY option which works great too.

      • Tyler

        So take the tip of the old headphone jack to a grinding wheel for 2 seconds. BAM.. CUSTOM TIP

  • J M

    Its cool, wouldn’t have thought of the headphone idea until now, but more importantly…I feel like I would lose the tiny thing after a week.

  • Dylfo

    It’s a jack with no cord… Who would buy it

  • Does anybody else get erroneously assaulted by Siri when they try to quit apps?

    • Justin Thurmond

      its a weird activator setting that some how gets set up for an IN APPLICATION setting. Its home button means click home button twice or something.. that happened to me and it was an activator setting – otherwise i dont know what it is

  • iPhone Gruru

    I’m sorry I still prefer MyLED. Same concept, but with additional lit notifications

  • TeddyBearStand

    What if you accidentally forget to switch the Mutator on? Isn’t this simply making another mute switch which isn’t exactly fool proof and can be left off on occasion?

    • ronadair

      Like many users, I would love it if the native switch were a true “mute” switch. However, that’s not the way Apple has designed it. A similar problem exists with Android phones, as it turns out. Bottom line: it’s a complex problem.

      Users mistakenly assume the “ring/silent” switch is a “mute” switch. While it does silence SOME sounds other than ring tones and text tones, it DOESN’T silence audio from videos, songs, some games and apps, or Siri. Some people are ok with this behavior, some not. Mutator helps add extra assurance that their phone isn’t going to make noise when they don’t expect it.

      Forgetting to mute your phone (or turn Mutator) is one thing. Not being ABLE to mute unintended sounds is another. Mutator takes care of the latter.

      • TeddyBearStand

        I understand. I imagine a simple jailbreak tweak (if not already developed) would fix this small problem, but I hope your product has a successful run for the non-jailbreakers.

      • ReanimationXP

        A great point. If this hasn’t already been done, someone should make it and close this case πŸ™‚

  • Steven Miller


  • They’re secretely selling the stone of resurrection

  • Gucciipad

    Id lose it its too small.

  • Chee Yuyang

    I’ll probably lose that thing in like a day

  • Reya Huang

    I cut up an old headphone and it works just fine, at least for emergency silencing when my mom pops up behind my back. Not really a fan of the design to start with. That twist feature can be useful, at the same time tricky.

  • Guest

    i can make one of these with a broken headphone jack, some sugru and a file.
    Its basically a broken headphone jack with non-conductive sides placed stategically. ITS JUST FOR THE iPHONE FYI!!!!

  • Kent Wu

    Even this is slightly useless (I can probably diy a version of this in a weekend) but i find the importance of helping indie projects like this. This will be the first kickstarter project I will back.

    • Bob

      I think you should help out more creative and innovative projects instead of this crap.

      • Kent Wu

        are you implying I don’t?

  • Paul Sharpe

    I made one of these myself and have been using it for 2 years now. Its a good idea.

  • Bing Beta

    its stupid i have done the same thing with old apple earbuds that stopped working

  • Chuck Finley

    Or you could just turn off your phone?

  • JomanJi

    It’s actually not useless, but you can make one yourself by cutting off the end off old headphnes, but this is of course classier

  • Guest

    Lol, only useful for non-jailbroken iDevices…on a freed iDevice, simply toggle both the external and SBSettings/NCSettings/Auxo (multiple options, but only 1 required) mute switch…

  • Junger Maan

    The idea itself seems to be quite good, but what about those people who are using their iPhones with protective cases ? Will the Mutator fit properly in that situation as well?

  • Craig Keller


  • Sankaranand Balaradjou

    i will probably use my damaged iphone5 ear pods with it.