Accessibility for Everyone: How to Use Back Tap on Your iPhone in iOS 14


We tend to treat accessibility features in operating systems as afterthoughts, but every user could benefit from checking out what’s available. Apple’s iOS 14 adds several such capabilities, including VoiceOver AI recognition for photos and apps that don’t include built-in accessibility options, sound recognition for things like fire alarms and doorbells, and sign language recognition in FaceTime.

One new capability in particular has received a lot of attention: Back Tap.


What Is Back Tap?

Back Tap is just what it sounds like: it lets you tap the back of your iPhone to perform an action. The intended use case is to turn on another accessibility feature, such as VoiceOver or to perform an action on a hardware Switch Control. But the feature is extremely versatile: it can be set up for accessibility features as well as basic system actions and custom Shortcuts.


Setting Up Back Tap in iOS 14

The new accessibility feature works on the following iPhone models:

I was tickled to see that my iPhone X was included in the list, since I expected it to be a newer-phone only feature. Here are the steps:

Set up Back Tap in iOS 14

Open the main Settings app from your iPhone home screen and tap Accessibility. In the Physical and Motor section, tap Touch. Scroll all the way to the bottom and select Back Tap.

Choose action for Back Tap in iOS 14

You have two choices here: Double Tap and Triple Tap. Double seems easier, so I chose that. At first I wondered why there was no single-tap option, but that would likely result in too many unintentional triggerings. This also means you can choose two different actions for back taps, one for double and one for triple taps.

A copious list of options awaits you on the next screen. The first section includes useful system action, including App Switcher, Control Center, Home, Lock Screen, Mute, Notification Center, Screenshot, and Siri. Accessibility options include VoiceOver, Assistive Touch, Classic and Smart Invert (which display inverted colors), and Speak Screen.

You can also use the taps to trigger Shortcuts. Find a whole gallery of these in the Shortcuts app, and even create custom ones—say, for opening an app, sending a message to a particular contact, playing a podcast, creating a tweet, or getting directions home. The options are virtually limitless. Any Shortcut you add will be available for use with Back Tap.

I was curious to see whether the trick would work with my thick iPhone case on, and unfortunately, it did not, probably because I have a metal car plate for a magnetic holder on my dashboard. A normal case would probably offer no hindrance. Once I removed the case, the feature worked as advertised, and it didn’t require a very hard tap. It even worked with a rugged Speck case (without the metal magnetic plate).

Look for our full iOS 14 review in the coming days.

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I'm Malkit singh rataul.

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