On iOS and iPadOS, there are a number of convenient ways to accomplish the same task or automate repetitive tasks using Siri. If you use Siri Shortcuts or accessibility features, or you wish a common area of iOS was easier to access, you may want to check out back tap, a feature that takes advantage of an iPhone’s accelerometer to detect taps on the back of the device. These taps can be configured to toggle accessibility features on and off, access various basic functions of iOS, and run Siri shortcuts. In addition, if you use VoiceOver, back taps can compliment the extensive customizability of Voiceover gestures to perform VoiceOver specific actions.
To use this feature to perform system-wide actions, you must have an iPhone 8 or newer, running iOS 14 or later. In order to use Back Tap to perform VoiceOver actions, you’ll need an iPhone XS or newer; the iPhone XR should also work.
Configuring back taps to perform system-wide actions
To configure a double or triple-tap on the back of your iPhone to perform a system-wide action on your device, open Settings > Accessibility > Touch > back tap, and choose either a double or triple-tap. You will then be presented with a list of actions that you can assign to that gesture, placed into categories such as accessibility features, access to common areas of iOS, such as the Home Screen, app switcher or Control Center, and your own Siri shortcuts, among other things.
Note: The list of available actions you can assign to a gesture is categorized and organized by heading. Thus, if you’re using VoiceOver, you can simplify navigation of this list by turning the rotor to headings and swiping up and down with one finger to move through the different categories.
Configuring back taps to perform VoiceOver functions
In addition to the wide array of system-wide actions that back taps can be configured to perform, they can also be mapped to specific VoiceOver actions. If you, for example, find a particular VoiceOver gesture difficult to perform, you can configure a double or triple-tap on the back of your iPhone to perform that function instead.
To configure a back tap to perform a VoiceOver function, open Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Commands > Touch Gestures, and under the “Back tap” heading, select either a double or triple-tap. From there, select the action you’d like that gesture to perform. Like the list of system-wide actions, the list of VoiceOver actions is organized by heading to allow for quick navigation between categories.
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