How to use Back Tap on iOS 14 to launch Google Assistant (or any app)

Back Tap works with cases too!

by: - Last updated on: September 21st, 2020

Apple just announced iOS 14, its latest iteration of software for the exiting and upcoming range of iPhones, at the WWDC 2020. The announcement saw a bunch of exciting new features and improvements — some of which seem to have been inspired by Android. Among these, one of the most widely lauded ones, at least for now, is the ‘Back Tap’ feature. While iOS 14 still has a long way to go before it makes its way to the general public, the developer beta for the same is already available. So, if you happen to be interested in trying out Back Tap (or iOS 14, for that matter), here’s one of the many useful instances where the feature can come in handy — triggering Google Assistant.

Use Back Tap to launch Google Assistant

Just so you know, Back Tap is an Accessibility feature on iOS 14 that opens up the world for new possibilities on the iPhone. The feature is present deep-down in the Settings and came out as a surprising addition since Apple did not explicitly talk about it during their keynote. In a nutshell, Back Tap gives you the ability to either double-tap or triple-tap on the back of your iPhone to trigger specific actions.

The list of actions supported by Back Tap is pretty impressive. It includes a wide range of system actions, such as App Switcher, Home, Lock Screen, Mute, Reachability, Notification Center, Volume Up/Down, among others. Moreover, the added ability to use Apple’s Shortcuts app to create and assign different shortcuts/automation shortcuts trigger extends the scope of use even further. As now, using Back Tap, you can execute different shortcuts that you are dependent on or use every day — the scope of use here is impressive!

So all you need to do is assign any of these actions to Back Tap, and you are good to go! For this, you get two options: Double Tap and Triple Tap. Depending on your preference, you can assign one action for each option, after which you can trigger them by performing the associated gesture.

At this point, one of the thoughts that some of you would be getting is— “Why are we trying to use Google Assistant on iPhone when Apple has its own voice assistant?” The short answer is — Google’s voice assistant is more accurate and contextual with results as compared to Siri. It is, undoubtedly, at the top in the race with some of the other voice assistants from different companies. And the most accurate too. Based on a survey report, conducted by Loup Ventures, wherein the organization asked close to 800 questions each to all the leading voice assistants — Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa — the results suggest that Google Assistant comes in at a 93% accuracy rate for answering queries as compared to Siri and Alexa, which come in at 83% and 80% each.

While there is a ~10% difference in accuracy between Google Assistant and Siri, there is no denying that Apple’s assistant leads Google’s when it comes to handling commands. Although it is the expanse of information that the search-giant has at its disposal, that aids it with offering better results for a range of unimaginable queries people shoot at it every single day. Not to mention, how contextual Google Assistant is as compared to Siri, with features like Continued Conversation and Interpreter Mode, making all the difference.

Now that the rationale for using Google Assistant instead of Siri has been established, follow along to set up a trigger for Google Assistant with Back Tap.

How to Trigger Google Assistant using Back Tap

The very first thing you need to do is download the Shortcuts app on your iPhone since we will be using the Google Assistant shortcut to trigger the voice assistant. Similarly, to assign Google Assistant trigger to Back Tap, you also need to download the Google Assistant app from the App Store. Because, unlike Siri, which is Apple’s proprietary voice assistant, Google Assistant comes from, well, Google. And therefore, it does not have a trigger built-in to Apple’s Shortcuts ecosystem. Once you have downloaded both these apps, follow the subsequent steps.

Steps to create a Google Assistant shortcut on Shortcuts

1. Open the Google Assistant app and log in and set up your account. [Make sure the voice assistant is working]

2. Next, open the Shortcuts app and tap on the Plus (+) icon to create a new shortcut. Alternately, while in the My Shortcuts tab, scroll down and click the ‘Create Shortcut’ option.

3. Tap on ‘Add Action’, and on the card that pops-up, click on the search bar and look-up ‘Google Assistant’.

4. From the list of Apps, select Assistant, and on the next screen, tap on ‘Hey Google’.

Create a Google Assistant shortcut on Shortcuts

5. Now, turn off the option that says, ‘Show When Run’, and hit ‘Next’ on the top.

Create a Google Assistant shortcut on Shortcuts

6. On the next screen, give a name to your shortcut and change the icon if you need to.

Create a Google Assistant shortcut on Shortcuts

7. Finally, hit Done.

To make sure the shortcut is working, make sure you are in the My Shortcuts tab and tap on the shortcut you just created. If it works fine, you can proceed further. In case it does not, try the steps again.

Create a Google Assistant shortcut on Shortcuts

Alternatively, you can also get the Google Assistant shortcut up and running without having to follow the above steps. For this, when you download and set up the Google Assistant app, and you get a pop-up card asking you to add ‘Ok Google’ to Siri, simply tap on the button that says ‘Add to Siri’, and you should have the shortcut set up and ready to use.

Steps to assign Google Assistant trigger on Back Tap

1. Open Settings, tap on Accessibility > Touch > Back Tap.
2. From the Back Tap settings page, select the trigger gesture — Double Tap or Triple Tap — to wish to perform to run your shortcut.

Assign Google Assistant trigger on Back Tap

3. Once you are in either of the two gesture actions, scroll all the way down to the ‘Shortcuts’ section. And from here, tap on the name of the shortcut you just created in the Shortcuts app.

Assign Google Assistant trigger on Back Tap

And that’s it! Now, every time you need the Google Assistant, you can either double-tap or triple-tap on the back of your iPhone to execute the Google Assistant shortcut. And interact with it to get answers to your queries. And yes, the process is pretty much similar if you want to access some other app instead of Google Assistant by just back tapping your iPhone.

While there is still no clear answer as to how the feature works, some are speculating it to use the device’s Gyroscope and Accelerometer to detect the taps — something that can be seen on Android 11, as well. Also, from what it appears, Back Tap seems to be currently working on iPhone X and later generation iPhones. And YES, it works even if you have a case on your iPhone.

It will be interesting to see what new actions Apple adds to the feature until iOS 14 rolls out to the masses. And whether it brings-in support for older generation iPhones.

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  1. When I set this up, double tap launches assistant but does not ‘wake’ it. i.e. I see the app launch, but I have to say “Hey Google”. The orange light at the top showing that the Google Assitantant app is using the mic still shows though. Any help on this?

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