iOS 14’s most notable feature is without a doubt widgets on the home screen. They really do change your home screen for the better. But after spending some time poking around the developer beta last night, we discovered a hidden feature that’s so mind-blowingly awesome we’re writing an entire story on it.
The iOS 14 feature we’re talking about is a setting buried within Accessibility. Under the Touch setting, there’s a way to set a “Back Tap” to perform an action. Essentially, Apple is turning the back of your iPhone into a button. There are two programmable taps — double- and triple-tap — and within minutes both have already changed the way I use my iPhone.
Easier screenshotting — You can map either taps to activate a number of select settings, accessibility features, scroll gestures, or Siri Shortcuts. Personally, I set a double-tap to scroll up in an app or web page and a triple-tap to take a screenshot. The latter is especially killer because even though I’ve owned an iPhone for 10 years, I still fumble with pressing the power button + volume up to take a screenshot on my iPhone 11 Pro. Literally, taking screenshots only requires one finger now.
Launch the Google Assistant — Of course, you don’t need to follow me. Other useful ways to map the two taps include launching Control Center, Notification Center, and Reachability. Alternatively, if you the Google Assistant app installed you can turn on the Siri Shortcut and map a tap to trigger “OK Google” and effectively giving you quick access to Google’s more intelligent digital assistant.
Here are a few more videos I recorded of the Back Tap feature in action:
Works on the lock screen — Yep. You'll still need to unlock your iPhone for many actions, though.
Compatible with cases — Several Input editors confirmed Back Tap works with a case on. We've tried it with cases with a thin and medium thickness. Not sure if it'll work on bulkier cases like an Otterbox.
Android did it first — The Back Tap feature is awesome for iPhone users, but some Android phones have had similar “knocking” feature for a while. For example, the fingerprint sensor on the back of Pixel 1, 2, and 3 phones can be mapped to recognize swipe gestures for actions like scrolling and pulling down the Quick Settings/notifications shade.
Similarly, LG used to boast about its “KnockON” feature which let users use a code made up of different-sounding taps to unlock the phone. Despite LG touting KnockON as a more convenient and secure way to unlock your phone instead of entering a passcode, the knocking feature never took off.
iOS 14’s Back Tap might appear to be magic at first, but it’s really just another implementation of knock detection. Still, it’s an A+ feature that Apple is once again burying inside of Accessibility.