It might not have been revealed at Apple’s WWDC 2020 keynote, but Back Tap is a big deal for iPhone users. The useful accessibility tool is designed for those with more limited motor functions, but can be used by anyone, essentially providing iOS 14 users with easy access to a variety of system tasks including taking a screenshot, accessing the control centre, locking your phone and even opening apps like Google Assistant.

Yes, that’s right, you can use the Power button to access Siri and a quick double-tap to access Google Assistant on an iPhone - as long as you’ve got the Google Assistant app installed, of course.

The feature can also be set up with Shortcuts in mind, allowing you to activate a shortcut that, for example, turns your home lights on and off with a double-tap of the rear of your iPhone. That’d be pretty handy for when you go to bed and wake up - especially in those dark winter months. 

For most users, though, it’s likely the app launch function that’ll be the most exciting. Double-tap to open WhatsApp? You got it. Triple-tap to open the Camera? Yep, you can do that too.

We outline how to tap to open apps, take screenshots and more in iOS 14 right here. If you're yet to install the beta, take a look at how to get iOS 14 now.  

How to use Back Tap in iOS 14

If you want to open a specific app using Back Tap, you’ll have to configure the action via the Shortcuts app. If, however, you want to simply take a screenshot, lock your phone or perform any other system task, skip ahead to the next section of the tutorial.

Creating a shortcut to open your apps

If you want to double-tap to open an app, you’ll have to create a shortcut beforehand.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app.
  2. Tap the + icon in the top-right.
  3. Tap Add Action.
  4. Search ‘Open app’ in the search bar, and tap the function in the results.
  5. Tap Choose and select the app you’d like to open.
  6. Tap Next.
  7. Give your Shortcut a name - we recommend giving it the same name as the app it’s programmed to open to make things easier - and tap Done to save it. 

Once you’ve got your Shortcut set up, it’s time to map it to the double-tap activation.  

Setting up Back Tap

Once you’re ready to set up Back Tap in iOS 14, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Accessibility.
  3. Tap Touch. 
  4. Scroll down and tap Back Tap.
  5. Tap the Double Tap menu.
  6. Select the action you’d like to activate when a double-tap is recognised - if you want to open a specific app, scroll to the bottom and select the Shortcut you created earlier. 

Your selection should be applied immediately - try it out by tapping on the back of your phone. It’s probably also worth adding a separate function to the triple tap to get the most out of the feature. Why quickly access one app or function when you can access two? 

For more handy iPhone tips, here’s how to clear the cache on iPhone, and if you’re sick of iOS 14, here’s how to downgrade to iOS 13.