Shortcuts and gestures can help you do more with your phone in less time – you just need to know the right ones. Thanks to the launch of iOS 14 and the efforts of third-party developers on Android, you can now access a very useful new shortcut: touching the back of the phone to launch applications, take screenshots, open the camera and much more.
Touch an iPhone again
If you use an iPhone, the setup process is simpler because the rear touch feature is built-in iOS 14. However, you need an iPhone 8 or later and a phone that supports Tap to Wake, because of the sensors needed. You do not receive the back touch option on iPhone SE, e.g.
If you’re using a compatible phone, go to Settings Accessibility, then Touch, then Back Tap to activate shortcuts and decide how it works. You can activate and configure both Double press and Touch three times if you wish, giving you two different shortcuts that can be activated in an instant.
There are plenty of system shortcuts that you can assign to a double or triple tap, including taking a screenshot, activating Siri, turning off your phone, locking the screen, and opening the Control Center. You can also launch various accessibility shortcuts, including the VoiceOver and Magnifier functions.
Below the list, you’ll see a selection of Siri shortcuts, including custom ones you’ve previously set up. Any Siri shortcut can be attributed to a back touch, which means that the possibilities are almost limitless. Touching your back can change your phone’s configuration, work with files, record photos and videos, extract information from the web, and more. With Siri shortcuts, you can use touchback with almost any application you want.
A double or triple tap launches the selected action and (if applicable) a second double or triple tap cancels it again. For example, when the phone is turned off, the back-touch shortcut acts as a toggle switch to turn the sound off and off; if you set it to open the Control Center, then the rear touch is displayed and then hidden.
There are quite a few IPhone gestures beyond the normal ones that you may never have discovered or forgotten. Swipe down on the text 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 read about other gestures here.
Tap on an Android phone again
Touching the back is a bit more complicated for Android users because it is not a feature built into the phone’s software. There were signs that it might appear in Android 11, at least for Pixel phones, but in the end Google decided to extract the functionality – whether or not it appears in a future update remains to be seen.
Third-party developers have closed the gap, especially Kieron Quinn XDA developers community. Its app is called Tap, Tap and it should work on most Android phones. However, it is still in beta, so you may notice some bugs or inconsistencies with your own device.
Touch, Touch is not available in the Google Play Store at the time of writing, so you must visit this forum thread from your phone, follow the download link in the first post, then tap the security warnings Android shows you about installing unknown software (it’s OK, you can trust this app).
Once you open the app, you’ll be able to set and test touch sensitivity, and you’ll be able to use the app with Android accessibility so that it can always be “listened to” for your touch. You’ll also need to make sure Android doesn’t stop the app. to try to keep the battery life, but again Touch, touch guides you through this process.
When you get to the main screen of the application, you can configure it further: Choose Double touch actions and Triple Tap Actions to choose what you want to happen with a back touch. You can launch apps, take screenshots, activate the Google Assistant, and more. The app also allows you to set “gates” for times when the taps are working and not working – you can turn them off when the display is off, for example, or when you’re on call.
Tap, Tap is still beta software and can be hit by an occasional bug, but it actually gives you a lot more control than Apple’s built-in solution. It’s great for launching your camera, doing a web search, viewing your notifications, and more. Just like on iOS, Android supports a variety of other gestures you may not be aware of, and we’ve collected some of them. here.