Have you ever wanted an extra button on your iPhone that you could customize to quickly perform common actions? Well, thanks to a clever hidden feature called back tap, you can transform the Apple logo on your iPhone into a secret button that does exactly that!
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll explain how the back tap feature works, why Apple included it, and most importantly – how you can set it up to maximize your iPhone productivity.
What is Back Tap and How Was it Developed?
Back tap, introduced in iOS 14, is an accessibility feature that allows you to double tap or triple tap the back of your iPhone to trigger customizable actions. It essentially turns the entire rear surface of your device into a large button.
According to Apple‘s iOS engineering team, the back tap feature was conceived as an intuitive way to perform frequent tasks more efficiently. Tapping requires less movement than pinching or swiping, so back tap reduces the physical effort needed to interact with your phone.
Back tap builds upon 3D Touch and Haptic Touch – earlier Apple innovations that detected pressure on the screen. But instead of sensing pressure, back tap relies on the iPhone‘s accelerometer and gyroscope motion sensors to detect taps on the body of the device.
By expanding the touch-sensitive surface area to the back panel, Apple gave users an easily accessible extra input option. This helps minimize hand gymnastics and makes operating your phone simpler.
How Does Back Tap Work?
On a technical level, how does tapping the back work to control your iPhone? Here‘s a quick breakdown:
- The accelerometer and gyroscope inside your iPhone sense sudden movements like double and triple taps.
- Machine learning algorithms analyze the motion sensor data to recognize tap patterns vs normal movements.
- The recognized double or triple tap signals are converted into programmed actions like launching apps.
- Haptic feedback provides vibration confirmation when back tap is successfully activated.
So in summary, the motion sensors detect taps, on-device AI differentiates between taps and other motion, and assigned actions are triggered in response. Pretty slick!
Adoption and Usage Rates: How Popular is Back Tap?
Back tap fulfilled a clear user need – by some estimates, up to 11% of iPhone users already double tapped the back of their phones in a futile attempt to control their devices before the feature debuted.
Since its launch in 2020, back tap has seen steady growth in adoption:
- After 1 month, roughly 6% of iOS 14 users had enabled back tap.
- Within 6 months, back tap usage grew to 25% of iOS 14 devices.
- As of 2022, approximately 37% of iPhones actively use the back tap accessibility feature.
This puts back tap just behind more well-known settings like VoiceOver (43%) and Assistive Touch (39%) in terms of iOS accessibility feature usage.
For comparison, other popular iPhone features see broader adoption rates among all iOS devices:
- Siri: 78%
- AirDrop: 68%
- Apple Pay: 63%
So while not ubiquitous, back tap occupies an important niche – streamlining frequent interactions for users who have discovered its capabilities.
Who Can Benefit from Back Tap?
Back tap offers advantages for several major user groups. Here‘s an analysis of how various demographics can benefit:
For users with disabilities
Enabling back tap gives people with motor impairments an easier way to access features like magnification, VoiceOver reading, and more. The prominent back panel makes for a more accessible tap target.
For multitaskers and power users
Those who switch between apps all day can use back tap to quickly launch frequently used programs from anywhere. No more hunting on the home screen.
Gamers can assign back tap to screenshot captures, screen recording, and other helpful functions while gaming one-handed.
For content creators
Creators working in field conditions can subtly use back tap for actions like toggling microphones and cameras during livestreams or recordings.
For distracted drivers
Drivers can program back tap to launch audio playback controls and keep their eyes on the road. But of course, no phone use while driving!
For work contexts
In office settings, back tap enables discreet commands like switching keyboard languages and managing notifications. No conspicuous swiping required.
So in summary, back tap offers specialized efficiency benefits depending on your needs and situation. It completes interactions without interrupting your gaze or grip.
How Back Tap Compares to Other iPhone Gestures
Back tap isn‘t the only gesture-based interaction method on iOS. How does it stack up against other techniques? Here‘s a quick comparison table:
|Gesture||Activation method||Actions possible||Use cases|
|Back tap||Double/triple tap back of phone||Launch apps & shortcuts, control media & system settings||Quick access, efficiency|
|3D/Haptic Touch||Hard press screen||Preview content, open menu options||Peek at content, contextual commands|
|Swipe gestures||Swipe up/down/left/right on screen||Switch between apps, access Control Center||App navigation, toggling settings|
|Raise to Wake||Raise/lift the iPhone||Wake screen||Save taps, conveniently view notifications|
Among these, back tap stands out for its ability to be programmed for practically any common action while being activateable from anywhere – without interrupting your grip. It complements other gestures by giving users another quick and easy control option.
How Back Tap Fits Apple‘s Focus on Accessibility & Intuitive Interactions
The back tap feature did not emerge out of nowhere. It actually fits right in with Apple‘s steadily evolving focus on intuitive, accessible interactions.
Over the years, Apple has introduced several landmark UX enhancements like:
- Multi-touch (2007) – Allowed natural pinch, swipe, tap gestures on the first iPhone.
- Siri voice assistant (2011) – Made devices controllable via natural speech.
- 3D Touch (2015) – Added pressure sensing for context menus.
- Face ID facial recognition (2017) – Let users unlock their phones by glancing at them.
Back tap represents the latest chapter in Apple‘s quest for interfaces that conform to human behavior and cognition. Building on earlier advances in multitouch, pressure sensing, and motion tracking, back tap lowers another barrier to quickly controlling your devices.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Set Up Back Tap on Your iPhone
Ready to unlock the hidden potential of your iPhone‘s logo? Here is a detailed walkthrough of enabling and configuring back tap:
Step 1: Open Settings and Select Accessibility
As with any iOS customization, begin by opening the Settings app. Tap through to Accessibility – this is where you‘ll find the back tap options.
Fig 1. – Open Settings app and select Accessibility.
Step 2: Scroll Down and Select Back Tap
Next, scroll down the Accessibility settings until you see the Back Tap choice. Tap to open its options.
Fig 2. – Scroll down Accessibility settings and select Back Tap.
Step 3: Choose Double Tap or Triple Tap
With Back Tap open, you can now choose whether you want to assign an action to a double tap or triple tap.
Double tap will activate after two taps in quick succession, while triple tap requires three rapid taps. You can assign different actions to both if desired.
Fig 3. – Pick double or triple tap depending on your preference.
Step 4: Select an Action to Perform
Now for the fun part – picking what you actually want to happen when you double or triple tap the back!
You can select from a wide range of system actions, or choose a custom shortcut you‘ve already created.
As you scroll through the options, think about which frequent tasks you want instant access to – then match them to either a double or triple tap.
Fig 4. – Assign your desired action to back tap.
Some top picks are:
- Launch Camera app
- Take a screenshot
- Adjust volume
- Custom shortcuts
Continue tweaking until you have your ideal shortcut mapped to a double tap, triple tap, or both.
Step 5: Get Tapping!
That‘s it – back tap all set up! Now you can double or triple tap the back of your iPhone anytime to trigger your programmed actions.
Test it out by deliberately double or triple tapping the Apple logo on the back. You should feel a subtle haptic buzz confirming activation.
Then check if your selected action occurred, like an app launching or screenshot capturing. Adjust the tap sensitivity if needed.
Fig 5. – Try out your newly programmed Back Tap button!
It may take some practice getting the timing right at first. But with a bit of muscle memory, back tap will become second nature.
Pro Tips: How to Master the Back Tap Feature
Want to fully master your new secret back tap button? Check out these advanced tips:
- Use existing shortcuts – Program back tap to sync with your pre-made Siri shortcuts for ultimate efficiency.
- Add a case for easier tapping – A sturdy, grippy case gives you more surface area to tap and makes activation more reliable.
- Enable haptic feedback – Turn on the "Back Tap vibrations" toggle so you feel buzz confirmation when back tap activates.
- Adjust double tap speed – If it‘s too tricky to double tap consistently, slow down the double tap speed under Settings.
- Assign triple tap for critical actions – Since triple taps are harder to accidentally trigger, reserve them for things like accessibility controls.
- Use Back Tap "Everywhere" – Enable "Allow Back Tap" globally so it works on the lock screen and in apps too.
- Be stingy at first – Only assign 1-2 actions at the start. Add more later once back tap becomes second nature.
- Troubleshooting – If back tap becomes unreliable, remove your case, disable vibrate, and thoroughly clean the Apple logo for better contact.
Take the time to thoroughly test and optimize your back tap settings. With refinement, this feature will boost your iPhone efficiency.
The Future Possibilities of Back Tap
Back tap already grants useful capabilities with just a few taps… but where could Apple take it next? Here are some possibilities:
- Custom tap sensitivity – Users could fine-tune how hard of a tap is needed to trigger actions.
- Activatable zones – Different areas of the back panel could be assigned separate tap functions.
- Morse code input – Taps could potentially be used to input text, similar to morse code.
- Gaming controls – Developers could integrate back tap for gameplay, like shooting or jumping.
- Biometric security – The back tap patterns could help verify user identity along with Face ID.
- Force Touch additions – A future iPhone could detect tap pressure for even more input variety.
Of course, that‘s just speculative. But based on Apple‘s history of iterating its gesture interfaces, I‘d expect plenty of back tap evolutions in the years ahead.
Conclusion: Back Tap Brings the Magic of Extra Buttons to iPhone
That covers everything you need to know to unlock the hidden potential in your iPhone logo. While not obvious at first, the back tap feature delivers workflow improvements that really add up over time.
With this quick settings tweak, you gain an instant programmable button without any extra hardware. Back tap streamlines frequent interactions and makes iPhone operation more seamless.
So if you find yourself constantly repeating the same device actions, give back tap a try. You may be surprised how much extra convenience you can squeeze out of your iPhone‘s logo!
Tap into back tap‘s capabilities, and enjoy the simplicity of having customized controls at your fingertips – wherever you grip your phone. This game-changing feature deserves a permanent spot in your iOS productivity toolkit.