If you’re an iPhone owner, you’ll know there are a bunch of sweet features built into the devices to make life that little bit easier for you. But of all the fun hidden features housed in the iPhone, there is one that seems to blow minds the most: the broadly underused back tap function.
The usefulness of the back tap feature was (somewhat) recently rediscovered by the masses when TikTok user @tenilleserpa posted a video across her social media platforms showing off the feature. In the post, she guides her followers through the process of setting up their iPhones so they can use the Apple at the back of the iPhone as a button.
The process, known as back tapping, is a feature that came out with iOS 14 and allows you to use the Apple for simple functions like screenshots or activating Siri.
While this feature has been around for a good while now (we originally reported on this in June 2020), it’s always exciting to get a refresher on the fun functions your device has — especially when a new iOS update rolls around. Lord knows it’s easy to forget all the clever things our phones can do.
How to set up the Apple back tap function on your iPhone
As we’ve touched on, you’ll need to be working with iOS 14 and beyond to use the back tap feature, so make sure you’ve updated to at least that level.
Once you’ve done that, pull up the Settings app and tap on Accessibility, where you’ll find some of the most interesting and unmentioned iOS features.
Tap on Touch, and then scroll to the very bottom of the screen to find the buried “Back Tap” option. Tap it, and you’ll be able to assign various actions to a double- or triple-tap on the back of your phone.
“But wait,” you say. “I use a case to protect my iPhone when it goes flying out of my hands from time to time!”.
That shouldn’t be a problem. Back Tap should still work, provided you aren’t using a super-thick case that could probably help your iPhone survive a fall from atop a small building.
While you can’t double or triple-tap to launch apps (if only), you can perform a variety of standard system actions.
Everything you can do with back tap
- App Switcher
- Control Centre
- Lock Rotation
- Lock Screen
- Notification Centre
- Volume Down
- Volume Up
- Apple Watch Mirroring
- Background Sounds
- Classic Invert
- Colour Filters
- Control Nearby Devices
- Detection Mode
- Dim Flashing Lights
- Live Speech
- Smart Invert
- Speak Screen
- Zoom Controller
- Scroll Down
- Scroll Up
- Block Off an Hour
- Music Quiz
- New Shortcut (more on that here)
- Shazam Shortcut
- Text Last Image
I found it useful to assign the App Switcher to one of the tap gestures, and I assigned the screenshot action to the other. Editor’s Note: I use it for the Shazam shortcut, which I LOVE.
Now, for everyday use, I don’t have to move my thumb around to swipe up and launch the App Switcher; provided I’m holding the phone with all my fingers, I can maintain my grip and just give a gentle tap-tap on its rear.
About that: You don’t need to thwack thwack your iPhone for the taps to register. Two or three regular taps at a reasonably rapid succession should be enough. You’ll probably have to play around with Back Tap a few times to really get a sense of the lightest possible touch that can activate your action, but you’ll get the hang of it.
While I wish you could do more with Back Taps, the feature is still useful enough that everyone should give it a go. You don’t get that many opportunities to customise how you interact with your iPhone beyond Apple’s default gestures, after all.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.
Lead Image Credit: Netflix/iStock
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