In recent years, accessibility features on the iPhone have received more attention from Apple, which means that more people with disabilities can take advantage of everything that iOS has to offer. These features are also beneficial for non-disabled users, and iOS 14 has an exciting feature that everyone wants to use: Back Tap.
While many of Apple’s new accessibility tools and features are most useful for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, non-verbal, blind, visually impaired or have mobility problems, just to name a few, they are beneficial for anyone who owns an iPhone. Voice control lets you use your device hands-free, magnifying glass makes it easy to see things far away, Live listening helps you hear things better around you, sound recognition warns you of sounds around you when you are not hearing, Speech selection marks how a word is pronounced and the list goes on .
Of all these, Back Tap is perhaps the most fun as it can help you perform a variety of tasks quickly and easily. You can switch between apps, lock the screen, bring up Siri, turn the volume up or down, darken the screen and more ̵1; all by either double-clicking or triple-clicking on the back of your iPhone. While Back Tap does not have a built-in option to open a favorite tap on your command, it can be done with a small bit of shortcuts.
Before you continue, it is worth noting that Back Tap only works for iPhone 8 and newer running iOS 14, so if you have something older than that, you will need to upgrade your device to an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS or XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPhone 12 or 12 mini or iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max before you can use it.
Step 1: Create a shortcut to open your favorite app
The Back Tap feature works with shortcuts, so you need to create shortcuts that open the apps you choose and it’s easy to do.
In the shortcut app, go to the “My shortcuts” tab and press the plus sign (+) at the top right. You can also use “Create Shortcut” from the quick action menu on the shortcut app icon on the Home screen. This is where you create the workflow, and there is only one action. To start, tap “Add action” or the search bar at the bottom.
A window showing various actions is displayed. Enter “Open app” using the search field and then select the action “Open app” in the results list. This places the Open App script action in your shortcut. Then click on the blue “Select” label that appears in the action box.
A list of all apps on your device is displayed, including both built-in and third-party apps. Find the app you want to open with Back Tap by either scrolling through the list or searching for it by its name. I choose the built-in camera app, which would be a good app to open quickly when I need to take a photo or video without touching the lock screen.
Your shortcut is almost complete. Since this is the only action that the shortcut requires, press “Next” and name the shortcut. You can keep it simple and title it as “Open Camera” or whatever the app is. You can select an icon or not and then press “Done” to complete the creation. You do not have to run the shortcut before adding it to the Back Tap, so do not worry about it.
Tip: Open your app to a specific location
To go one step further than just opening your favorite app, do not use the “Open app” script. Instead, tap “Apps” up from the action search page. These are all apps that have specific actions built-in, some of which can open the app for a specific tab or topic.
For example, Apollo for Reddit lets you open a specific subreddit or multireddit. The App Store can be opened directly to the search page. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be opened for a new draft. News can be opened for a topic or Today Feed. And these are just a few examples. Explore what’s available in your apps before committing to just using the “Open app” script.
Step 2: Add shortcut to Back Tap
Now it’s time to add the shortcut to the Back Tap function. Launch the Settings app and go to “Availability”. On that page, scroll down a bit and press “Touch” below Physical and motor section.
Scroll to the bottom Pipe page and press “Back Tap”, which should be turned off by default. You will then see two different options for the back button: “Double press” and “Triple press”. You can use either to open your app, but tapping twice may be preferable as it is an easier action to perform, but either works well. If you want to create shortcuts for two of your favorite apps, you can assign each one their own Back Tap gesture.
A list of system actions is displayed at the top of the “Double Knock” or “Triple Knock” page, but if you scroll down you will see all your shortcuts. Select the shortcut you just created and go back to confirm that the shortcut is now connected to one of the two Back Tap options.
Step 3: Tap your iPhone to open the app
Tap the back of your iPhone two or three times to open the app you are setting up. If you have an iPhone case like most people do, you may need to press a little harder or specifically just under the camera to get some results. You can do this with both hands (as shown in the GIF below) or simply with one hand, which is useful if your other hand is busy doing something else.
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