Shortcuts and gestures can help you get more done with your phone in less time. You just need to know which vouchers to use. Thanks to the rollout of iOS 14 and the efforts of third-party developers on Android, you can now access a very useful new shortcut: tap the back of your phone to launch apps, take screenshots, open the camera, and much more.
Tap back on an iPhone
If you are using an iPhone, the setup process is easier, as the rear grip feature is built into iOS 14. However, you need an iPhone 8 or later and a phone that supports Tap to Wake, due to the sensors required. You do not get the option to return on the iPhone SE, for example.
If you are using a compatible handset, in Settings, go to Accessibility, then To touch, then Back Tap to activate shortcuts and decide how they work. You can enable and configure both Type twice and Press three times if you want, giving you two different shortcuts that can be activated in an instant.
There are many system shortcuts that you can assign to double or triple tap, including taking a screenshot, waking Siri, muting your phone, locking the screen, and opening Control Center. You can also launch various accessibility shortcuts, including VoiceOver and Magnifier features.
Further down the list, you’ll see a selection of Siri Shortcuts, including custom shortcuts you previously set up. Any shortcut Siri can be assigned to a back tap, which means the possibilities are almost endless. The back taps can change your phone’s configuration, work with files, save photos and videos, extract information from the web, and more. Thanks to Siri Shortcuts, you can use the back key with just about any app you like.
A double or triple tap initiates the chosen action, and (if applicable) a second double or triple tap cancels it again. In the case of muting your phone, for example, the back tap shortcut acts as a toggle switch to turn sound on and off; if you have configured it to open the Control Center, the back tap will show, then the mask.
There are quite a few IPhone gestures beyond normal that you may never have discovered or forgotten. Swipe down on the text entry box to hide the keyboard, for example, or swipe left and right to delete numbers in the Calculator app, or double-tap to zoom in on Apple Maps. You can learn more about a few additional gestures here.
Tap back on an Android phone
Back Tap is a bit more complicated for Android users because it’s not a feature built into your phone’s software. There were signs that it might appear in Android 11, at least for Pixel phones, but Google ultimately decided to remove the feature – whether or not it will appear in a future update remains to be seen.
Third-party developers have bridged the gap, especially Kieron Quinn at XDA Developers community. Its app is called Tap, Tap and should work on most Android phones. It’s still in beta, so you might notice a few bugs or inconsistencies with your own device.
Tap, Tap is not available on the Google Play Store at time of writing, so you must visit this thread from your phone, follow the download link in the first message, then tap on the security warnings Android shows you about installing unknown software (it’s OK, you can trust this app ).
Once you open the app, you will be able to set and test tap sensitivity, and run the app with Android’s accessibility service so that it can always “ listen ” to your taps. You’ll also need to make sure Android doesn’t close the app to try and save battery power, but again Tap, Tap walks you through this process.
When you get to the main screen of the app, you can configure it further: Choose Double tap actions and Triple push actions to choose what you want to do with a back tap. You can launch apps, take screenshots, activate Google Assistant, and more. The app also allows you to set “doors” for when the faucets are on and off. You can turn them off when the screen is off, for example, or when you are on a call.
Tap, Tap is still beta software and may be affected by the occasional bug, but it actually gives you a lot more control than Apple’s built-in solution. It’s great for launching the camera, searching the web, viewing your notifications, and more. Like on iOS, Android supports a variety of other gestures that you might not be aware of, and we’ve rounded up some of them. here.