Back Tap – iOS 14 New Feature

iOS 14 Logo

In a recent post, we looked at a few of our favorite iOS 14 features. Now that iOS public beta 3 (18A5332f) is out, there is one more feature we love and that is Back Tap. This feature allows you to double or triple tap on the back of your iPhone to perform actions quickly.

Back Tap is built as an accessibility feature in iOS 14 and is turned off by default. To turn it on, go to Settings, Accessibility, Touch, and at the bottom, you’ll see Back Tap. Go into it and you’ll be able to choose what action to perform when you tap on the back of your iPhone twice or three times.

The list of available actions include:

System

App Switcher, Control Center, Home, Lock Screen, Mute, Notification Center, Reachability, Screenshot, Shake, Siri, Spotlight, Volume Down, Volume Up

Accessibility

Assistive Touch, Classic Invert, Magnifier, Smart Invert, Speak Screen, Voice Over, Zoom

Scroll Gestures

Scroll Up, Scroll Down

Shortcuts

Shortcuts you have set up in the Shortcuts app, and suggested shortcuts that come with iOS 14 public beta 3

I have the double tap set to open App Switcher and triple tap to run one of my shortcuts. iOS 14 public beta has been great so far, but Apple did take away my favorite 3D Touch feature which is force touching on the left bezel to activate App Switcher. Tapping on the back to switch apps is not as fast and intuitive as force touching on the bezel, but hey it’s something.

Apple giveth and Apple taketh away. 

Back Tap in iOS 14 Public Beta 3

Use Shortcuts App to Change App Icons on iPhone

 

iOS Shortcuts App

With the release of iOS 12 in 2018, Apple introduced the Shortcuts app. This app allows users to set up shortcuts, automated actions that the user can ask Siri to perform. Because of the amount of work the user needs to put in, Shortcuts never became very popular. However, it does allow users to do things that normally would seem difficult. In our post today, we look at how to use the Shortcuts app to change app icons on the iPhone.

Before we start, I should state we are not really changing any app’s icon. Instead, what we are doing is creating shortcuts that point to apps. The shortcuts can have different icons and names than the apps they point to.

Using Shortcuts App to Change App Icons

    • First, launch the Shortcuts app. If you’ve never used the app before, it’s probably tucked away somewhere. Searching for it using Spotlight is usually the best and quickest way to find the app. 
    • Then, in the My Shortcuts screen, tap Add (Add navigation bar and tab bar icon) on the top right corner to create a new shortcut.
    • In the New Shortcut screen, tap Add Action, then tap Scripting and choose Open App. This allows you to see a full list of apps installed on your device.
    • Tap Choose to select the app you want to open with the shortcut and then tap Next on the top right corner.
    • Give the shortcut a name, preferably something short and descriptive. You’ll be using this name to tell Siri to run this shortcut. You can also change the app icon here by tapping the icon. Apple provides a number of colors and glyphs you can use. Tap Done once you’ve named the shortcut and selected the icon.
    • The shortcut should now appear in the My Shortcuts screen. Tap the shortcut to run, or tap the Menu button to make changes.
    • Once you are in the shortcut, tap the Menu button on the top right corner, or tap the Share button at the bottom to add the shortcut to Home Screen.
    • Voilà! You now have a new icon in the Home Screen. Next time you want to run the app, just simply tap the new icon you just created. The Shortcuts app will open and it will then launch your app. You can also ask Siri to run the shortcut.

Our Favorite iOS 14 Features and Updates

iOS 14 Logo

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple had their first-ever no-live-audience WWDC keynote on June 22, 2020. As expected, Apple announced iOS 14. Between the keynote and Apple’s iOS 14 preview page, here are 5 features and updates we love in the next iOS release. 

CarPlay Wallpaper

Starting with a really small and personal one. In iOS 14, users will be able to change the CarPlay Dashboard and Home Screen wallpapers. Apple’s WWDC demo and iOS 14 preview page suggest users will only be able to select from pictures shipped with iOS 14 – not from their own photos. But hey, it’s something. I drive a Volkswagen so my car’s interior needs some livening up – I know.

iOS 14 feature - CarPlay Wallpaper

Pinned Messages

Apple’s Messages app is one of those things that’s been keeping a lot of people in the ecosystem, myself included. However, it’s becoming a headache over the last couple of years to deal with spam messages. I get so many of them and they quickly bury the real conversations. This is why being able to pin conversations to the top of the Messages app in iOS 14 is such good news to me.

Pinned Messages in iOS 14

New Compact Incoming Calls UI

Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, incoming calls have always taken up the whole screen. This is anxiety-inducing sometimes. In iOS 14, incoming calls will no longer take over the whole screen. Instead, they’ll show up on the top of the screen, just like any other notification, and if you so choose, you can dismiss the banner with just a flick of your finger.

See, this is why I believe Apple is the biggest troll. This feature feels like something we should have had all along, but Apple took 13 years and 14 iOS releases to give it to us. Who’s complaining?

Incoming Calls Banner in iOS 14

Smarter Siri with New Compact UI

I use Siri a lot, but only for simple things, like conversations, translation, setting timers, and creating reminders. When I ask Siri other simple questions like how old a celebrity or politician is, instead of giving me the answer, Siri would show me web search results which I have to pick up the phone to look at. This really defeats the purpose of a virtual assistant.

Siri has been dumb for some good reasons that we will not get into here. But it’s really great to know that in iOS 14, Siri will be able to answer a broader set of questions using information across the internet without me having to browse the web – exactly what I need.

The iOS 14 Siri will also have a compact UI and no longer take up the whole screen. It will only appear at the bottom and it’ll have new animations.

iOS 14 Compact Siri UI

Enhanced calendar picker for Reminders app

This update is so small that even on the iOS 14 preview page, it’s listed at the bottom in the “Even More” section, but it’s really important and personal for me.

Ever since iOS 13, the Reminders app can contextually add the date and time as I type out the text of a reminder. However, if I want to pick the date and time manually, I need to flip two separate toggles, one for the date and the other for the time. In iOS 14, users can choose the right date and time to be reminded with a new calendar menu, quickly see the whole month, and easily scroll through months and years. 

iOS 13 Reminders App Screenshot

iOS 14 is expected to release in September 2020 with the public beta available in July.

What are some of the iOS 14 features you are looking forward to? Let us know in the comments.

Preserve Settings for iPhone Camera App

iPhone-iOS-Camera-App-Icon-Large

Now think about this. What is the first thing you do when you open the camera app on your iPhone? If the first thing you do is change to a different camera mode, you are in luck because your camera settings can be easily preserved between app launches. To do this, go to Settings, scroll down and tap Camera, then tap Preserve Settings.

In the Preserve Settings screen, you’ll see these items with toggles: Camera Mode, Filter & Lighting, and Live Photo.

iOS Settings - Camera - Preserve Settings

Camera Mode

By default, each time you launch the Camera app, it goes into the Photo camera mode. With Camera Mode turned on in Preserve Settings, each time you launch the app, it goes into whatever mode you used the last time.

Turning Camera Mode on here also allows your iPhone Camera app to remember other settings, for example, whether you were using the front-facing or the rear-facing camera and your timer setting, etc.

Filter & Lighting

The stock iPhone camera app has a few built-in filters and its Portrait mode has a couple of lighting options to choose from. With Filter & Lighting turned on in Preserve Settings, the Camera app keeps the last used filter or light on relaunch.

Live Photo

Live photos can be really fun to play with, but sometimes you just want to grab a larger picture in the default camera mode without also capturing 1.5 seconds before and after the picture. Toggling on Live Photo in Preserve Settings lets your Camera app preserve the Live Photo setting, rather than automatically reset to Live Photo turned on.

iPhone Battery Health Explained

iOS Battery Icon

In this post, we look at how to view and understand your iPhone battery health.

First, some background.

Apple got into trouble around 2017 when they implemented performance controls on older iPhone models with degraded batteries. According to Apple, this was to preserve system stability on those devices. However, they did this without first telling their users. When the news broke out, people were understandably furious. History will forever know this as batterygate.

One of the things Apple did to mitigate the situation was the new Battery Health feature in iOS.

Released in iOS 11.3 on March 29, 2018, the feature allowed users to gain visibility into their device’s battery health by displaying the battery’s maximum capacity. This seemingly simple piece of information was previously only available to users via third-party apps. The Battery Health feature also allowed users to disable performance throttling when using an older battery.

The Battery Health feature remains available today. 

How to View iPhone Battery Health

    1. Go to Settings
    2. Scroll down and tap Battery
    3. Tap Battery Health

iOS Battery Health Screen

Understanding Your Battery Health

In the Battery Health screen, you’ll see your battery’s maximum capacity, whether it’s capable of supporting peak performance, and whether you want optimized battery charging.

Maximum Capacity means how much charge your battery can hold. The number would gradually drop over time as you use your device and your battery ages. While Apple does not explicitly say at what point you should swap out your old battery for a new one, their iPhone Battery and Performance support page hint at 80%.

Peak Performance Capability tells you if your battery can handle peak performance. If iOS has determined that your battery can not support peak performance, it will turn on performance throttling, and this is where you can disable it.

Optimized Battery Charging was introduced in iOS 13. When the feature is enabled, your battery will wait to finish charging past 80% in certain situations. This improves your battery’s lifespan, as keeping the battery percentage more centered instead of complete charges and discharges reduces strain onto the battery.