I recently picked up my Pixel 6 Pro directly from the Google Store, and man am I excited! I opted for the larger storage capacity, and I have only filled it up halfway so far with awesome games and apps. I was so ecstatic to expand my storage to 256GB from the Pixel 4’s 64GB (which had a large chunk taken up by the OS and system files), that I didn’t really take time to explore what features Google’s flagship device brought with it.
Upon doing so, however, I remembered that the “back tap gesture” or “Quick Tap” was a thing, and recalled back to when such a neat trick was uncommon on Android phones. In fact, you used to have to use apps like Tap Tap or mod your device to make it possible to tap the back of your phone hardware to make something happen, but Google has since baked it directly into the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
I’ve now had it enabled for a little while, and I can’t help but feel like its implementation is sloppily done. Furthermore, I can’t shake the feeling that the back tap gesture is a completely unnecessary gimmick. For the record, I’m not mad that it exists, as I think gimmicks are fun by their very nature, but I just wish it was done better. Let me explain.
First, you should know that you can enable the Quick Tap gesture on Android 12 via the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro by visiting the settings app, going to ‘System’, ‘Gestures’, and then ‘Quick Tap’. It truly does seem like it would be an interesting or potentially useful feature as it allows you to quickly take a screenshot, access Google Assistant, play or pause media, see recent apps, show notifications, or open a specific application.
However, I’ve got two core complaints about the idea of Quick Tap. First, and most importantly, the spot on the back of the phone where you actually tap while holding it is so small and constrained that it’s nearly impossible to hit. If you own the phone, you’ll likely know exactly what I mean.
The hotspot is near the Google logo on the back of the device and based on where your pointer finger rests just below the camera bar this means that you have to curl your finger quite a bit to attempt to double tap in the correct area. When you’re not looking at the back of the phone, this is incredibly hard to pinpoint.
Alright, that leads me directly into the second issue I have with Quick Tap – speed. I have medium-sized hands, I would say, and while it may not be true for all users, I found it incredibly awkward to tap the back of the phone correctly, and simply performing any of the available gesture actions manually turns out to be faster.
Let’s go through the list, shall we? The way in which anyone carries out the actions I’ll list will depend on their preferences, but as for myself, I take screenshots by going into overview mode and tapping the ‘Screenshot’ button under the app card. The other half of the time, I still do it the old school way and press and hold the power and volume down buttons.
I access Google Assistant by saying “Hey Google”, and I play or pause media by tapping the button from the notification shade as my phone is usually on a surface, making the back of it inaccessible. I access recent apps simply by swiping up from the bottom of the display, and I show my notifications with a single thumb swipe down anywhere on the home screen because it’s already effortless.
On to app – Google is the only real app I can see needing to place a double-tap away, but then I realized that the only reason I visit the app itself outside of Googling things (which I do by voice) is to read Discover articles. If you recall, Android has Discover on the Pixel Launcher just one swipe from left to right on the home screen. All other apps that are important on any level will already be placed on my first or second screen, so that leads me to seriously question – at least, for myself – what the heck Quick Tap is even for.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure many of you are probably enjoying Quick Tap right now, and I’m sure it’s probably much more accessible and functional on the smaller-sized Pixel 6 phone, but it’s definitely a no for me this year. I hope that Google can push an update to make the hotspot for the tap much wider and taller so I can avoid having to reach and hunt for it blindly, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m still exploring the phone and having a lot of fun doing it, but I would love to hear your thoughts if you picked one up!