Monday, August 20, 2012

Can't exit Toddler Lock on Android phone

Toddler Lock will lock your Android phone completely so you can give it to a baby or toddler to play with. The only danger from the kid is that it may throw your phone and break it. But other than that, the kid will not be able to damage the phone by unlocking it and messing with what's inside.

Here's the problem. The security of Toddler Lock is so tight that it would seem the only way to exit out of the app is to tap four corners of screen in a clockwise direction. (Note that you have to tap the four corners one after the other. Tap any corner, remove your finger, tag next corner in CW direction, remove your finger, and so on. Some people seem to think you need to hold all corners simultaneously which is wrong.) You may think a restart may also unlock it but even pulling out the battery for minutes (or perhaps hours) will not help. You will be stuck in Toddler Lock no matter what.

This is fine until my screen started having problems. Two of the four corners I had to touch to exit Toddler Lock did not register touches anymore. This is fine for my normal usage as Android is quite versatile enough to be usable even if small parts of the screen do not register touches anymore. But I forgot this and launched Toddler Lock. This is where I got stuck in a seemingly infinite blackhole of being stuck on Toddler Lock. I even sent an angry email to the developer in ALL CAPS!

I tried the following (none helped):
  • Power down the phone.
  • Restart the phone.
  • Pull out the battery and put it back in.
  • Pull out the battery, leave it out for five minutes, put it back in.
  • Try to use "adb" tool in Android SDK (unfortunately my USB Debugging option was off)
  • Try to remote uninstall Toddler Lock via Google Play website but I think my device is too old for that. (THIS is what you should do if you have a newer device.)
If nothing of the above helped you, here's what you can try. These are not step-by-step instructions, but more like "mess with it until it works" instructions so just keep trying different approaches. I was just trying various things in panic mode to get my phone unlocked, so I'm just gonna write most of what's below in first person describing what I did. You may not have to do everything.

TIP: The developer has replied with a (perhaps) easier method of rescuing the phone. Of course this is model-dependent but still worth a try: "To exit Toddler Lock, you can try starting the phone in "safe mode", which will prevent Toddler Lock from starting. On most phones, you enter safe mode by restarting the phone while holding down the "menu" button, and continuing to hold it down until the home screen appears." Safe mode for certain devices: HTC/Nexus1/Droid, HTC Desire HD. Getting out of safe mode: link.

NOTE: If you had enabled Airplane Mode (flight mode) in Toddler Lock settings, you can attempt to disable it via the power menu. Hold the power button down and in the menu you get, if you find an "Airplane mode" option or similar, tap it. If you don't have that option, or it's not helping, you can still try some of the steps below, but you may most likely end up having to replace your digitizer (bring the phone to any mobile phone repair shop tell them to change the digitizer - NOT the display itself! - to a new or working one).
  • Get another phone and make a call to the phone stuck on Toddler Lock.
  • When the phone rings (press any volume button once to mute the ring then), try pressing home button, power button etc. to somehow get to the lock screen or the screen to answer call.
  • My phone had a normal security pattern so this kinda helped. I got to the security screen and entered wrong code 5 times so that I can tap on the Forgot Pattern? button.
  • Somehow I ended up on the lock screen (swipe to unlock, pull ring to unlock, etc) as I kept messing with the phone trying to answer the call. I made a second call again. The lock screen gave me options to answer or reject the call. I answered it and left the call ongoing.
  • On the call screen, I pressed Menu > People to get to the contact list. Now I had to unlock the screen, which I did. The People app crashed, so I did Menu > People again. I could now see the contact list (You may not need to do this)
  • I pulled down the notifications drawer (you can't do this when the phone is locked even in a call), then tapped the Quick Settings tab, selected All Settings.
  • I went into Applications > Manage Applications > Toddler Lock > Force Stop > Clear data > Clear cache (was disabled) > Clear defaults > Uninstall > OK.
  • Before the above, I had also launched my TaskPanel task manager app and force-quit the Toddler Lock entry there, but this may not be necessary.
  • If you cannot get into Settings you may have to wait till you have notifications about app updates, then tap on that to get to the Market (Play Store) app, and uninstall Toddler Lock from there. You could try pressing Home to see if you can get to your actual home screen, but I suspect it will throw you back into Toddler Lock again.
Hope this helps anyone who is stuck on Toddler Lock! It's damn ridiculous that even pulling out battery for 5 minutes isn't going to reset Toddler Lock... which toddler on earth is gonna try that in its attempt to unlock the phone from child lock?

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