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Shut that phone up!
Being polite with a smartphone can be tricky. I have found that knowing when to have the ringer on and how loud to set it is one of the trickiest things about owning a phone.
Some phones — actually, it's a matter of mobile operating systems — give the user more and better options.
The OS should make it easy to make settings in an unrushed manner, but it should also be easy to silence your phone in a hurry. But it isn't always.
Why doesn't everyone do it the way Apple does it? I had an iPhone 4S for a long time, but let it go this past Spring. There's exactly one thing I miss about it: The iPhone has a physical switch to silence the phone. Well, mostly. The button silences things like the phone ringer and notifications, which would make sounds without you initiating anything. Music, game sounds and the like still work. There's one exception: Alarms, which will still sound off if the device is "silent".
The Apple silent switch is so straightforward you don't even have to look at it. You can reach into your pocket and change the switch without taking the phone out. It's so obviously the right way to do it that I wonder whether there's a patent involved.
iOS also has a simple volume interface in the control panel, but here simplicity may not be a virtue. One volume level is not flexible enough. If I were designing these things I would make each app, including alarms, silenceable by the silent switch through a configuration setting. But Apple biases iOS more towards simplicity than towards power.
One last issue with the Apple switch is that a case may easily make it inaccessible. The Otterbox, for example, puts it behind a flap that takes some fingernail power to open.