August 5, 2020

Xiaomi could let you tap the back of your phone to launch features

New evidence in the latest MIUI 12 beta points to Xiaomi following in Google's footsteps with a Back Tap feature.

Xiaomi Mi 9T Rear casing focused on logo and carbon texture

  • Xiaomi is working on so-called Back Tap gestures in MIUI 12.
  • This would allow you to tap the back of your phone to activate features.
  • There’s no word on a release timeline for the feature or device availability.

Earlier this year, it emerged that Google was working on a feature dubbed Columbus. This would allow users to tap the back of their phone to activate various functions. We then saw Apple announce a similar feature for iOS 14 last month, but it now looks like Xiaomi has joined the party as well.

XDA member kacskrz uncovered references to so-called Back Tap gestures in the latest Xiaomi MIUI 12 beta builds (h/t: XDA-Developers), and they were also able to show off screenshots of the feature in the MIUI settings menu. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to activate the feature on their Redmi Note 7.

MIUI 12 back tap gesture XDA 1 MIUI 12 back tap gesture XDA 2 MIUI 12 back tap gesture XDA 3

The screenshots do show us what to expect from the feature though, confirming double tap and triple tap gesture options. It also shows that these gestures can be used to turn off the screen, toggle the torch, close apps, enable split-screen view, take screenshots, launch the camera, and activate the notification shade.

There’s no word on a timeline for back tap gestures on Xiaomi phones right now. It also remains to be seen whether this will be restricted to certain devices or available for all/most phones running MIUI 12.

It nevertheless seems like a good alternative to Google’s Active Edge squeezes and dedicated hardware keys. So hopefully we see this implementation and Google’s take come to Android phones soon.

Next: Can phone-makers dial the rebranding down a bit?