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Are You Using Your iPhone's 'Secret Button'?

Back of the phone has been touch-sensitive since late September
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2020 1:41 PM CST
Updated Nov 7, 2020 7:00 AM CST

(Newser) – The latest update to iPhone software added a nifty new feature that may have escaped the attention of many users. It added what Chaim Gartenberg at the Verge calls a "secret button"—the back of the phone. The Back Tap feature turns the "entire back of your iPhone into a giant touch-sensitive button that you can double or triple tap to trigger specific functions on your phone," Gartenberg writes. It can be customized to activate the function the user desires. The intended use is for it to turn on accessibility features like VoiceOver, PCMag reported last month, though another popular use has been for screenshots. But Gartenberg marvels at Back Tap's limitless nature, writing it would have been easy for Apple to restrict its use to a shortlist of preset options; instead, it plays nicely with the Shortcuts app, allowing users to come up with their own uses.

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The feature, which was added in the iOS 14 update last month, works on these iPhone models: iPhone 8, 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. The feature, which can be found in the Accessibility menu in the Settings page, "is useful in an accessibility context because it accommodates those for whom elaborate tapping and swiping is difficult or impossible," wrote Steven Aquino last month at Forbes. He says he doesn't agree with calling the new feature "secret" or "hidden," noting that the update—which he calls "an immensely important nod to the disability community that people with disabilities matter"—has made the Accessibility menu much more prominent in Settings. (Read more Apple stories.)

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