At the WWDC keynote, Apple couldn’t run through every feature it’s bringing to iPhones with the iOS 14 update. Buried underneath the pile of headlining announcements, one of the more intriguing additions it skipped is a new gesture that allows you to perform actions by simply tapping the back of your iPhone.
iOS 14 offers an accessibility option (via MacRumors) that lets you trigger actions such as pulling down the Control Center or summoning Siri when you tap the back of an iPhone twice or thrice. There are nearly two dozen actions you can set up, including activating the Reachability mode, taking a screenshot, bringing up Spotlight search, and more. Plus, you can configure different gestures to the two- and three-tap gestures.
More importantly, these gestures support any custom shortcuts you may have built on your iPhone as well. Therefore, as demonstrated in the tweet attached below, you can take advantage of these accessibility features to instantly talk to third-party apps like the Google Assistant.
— patrick. (@imPatrickT) June 23, 2020
Based on feedback shared by early iOS 14 users online, the gestures are fairly accurate and even work through thick, leather cases. For now, it seems they’re limited to the iPhone X or newer models.
It’s unclear, however, which sensors Apple is taking advantage of to power this feature. Incidentally, Google’s latest update for its mobile operating system, Android 11 has a similar, hidden gesture that’s said to be gathering data from the phone’s gyroscope and accelerometer sensors to detect the taps.
We’ve reached out to Apple for more information on this and we’ll update the story when we hear back.
Unlike Android, however, you can use these gestures right away on your iPhone running iOS 14. You can access them by heading over to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Back Tap.
Other than that, the iOS 14 update adds several features iPhone owners have been requesting for ages such as home screen widgets, a drawer to tuck all your least frequently accessed apps, and a Siri page that doesn’t take up your phone’s entire screen space. It also revamps certain elements to keep up the times like more transparency for the permissions an app requests on their App Store listing.
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