The Magic Tap isn’t so Magical


If you use VoiceOver for iOS you probably are aware of a neat gesture called the Magic Tap. This gesture lets you take two fingers and double tap the screen to do any number of actions. These may include:

  • Answering/hanging up phone calls
  • Playing/pausing audio or music
  • Starting dictation through Siri (if available)

Developers are expected to add these functions to their apps, and if they don’t do this then blind users can point at them and laugh, but how well does the Magic Tap gesture work right out of the box? Lets just say that while it is like magic for the user, it is not magic for the developer. Developers already have to carefully plan how their apps are written, and make sure that they are up to date on the latest APIs or application programming interfaces from Apple. This means that they have to write code in the way Apple tells them to write code.

Magic Tap by default, is integrated in to a few places, the music player, and in the video player. If you do not conform to these two things, then your app will not pause or play your audio when your outside the app’s views. This means that if you go to the Facebook app with a podcast playing in another app, if the developer does not write the app correctly, you can not pause or play your audio. You can still do so from your headphones or through Control Center, but this is not as magical as the magic tap as it takes more steps.

To make things worse, Apple does not state how to properly implement audio so that this feature will work, and the only documentation on the Magic Tap gesture is on how to use it inside of your own app.

So, while this gesture is a great addition to the VoiceOver feature list, it is a problem for developers who are not familiar with the methods for properly implementing audio playback. 

I have posted this on developer websites, and will soon post about this on Twitter, but I think Apple should make changes to their documentation so that this feature can be implemented into more audio based apps without causing the developer to take days on researching a solution.

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