Apple mentions various swipe gestures for navigating an iPhone, but doesn’t describe the very useful back swipe gesture that exists.
The majority iPhone gestures are well documented, but there’s one incredibly useful gesture that Apple hasn’t mentioned at all. There’s a well-known button to go back on a website or browser tab, kind of like tapping Undo after making a mistake editing a document or drawing an image. The back button is also invaluable for going back to the previous page, window, or screen in an app, and using a gesture makes it even easier.
The back gesture is not a new idea and in 2008, Apple introduced multi-touch trackpad gestures to control a MacBook, one of which was a two-finger swipe gesture to go back. The first iPhone to accept a swipe gesture as a replacement for a Back button was one that had been unlocked and included a setting called SwipeBack. Developed in 2012, it worked with the Cydia jailbreak to bring this convenient feature to a mobile device.
In Apple’s current guide to iPhone gestures, it’s all about swipe up to unlock the device, something every iPhone owner knows. Multitasking gestures are a bit darker with a swipe up and a pause in the middle to see open apps. Swiping near the bottom of the multitasking bar is an even faster way to switch between apps. However, there are some more beyond that. Apple forgets to mention that a swipe to the right often works as a way to go back to the previous screen in many apps, including Safari, Mail, Reminders, Notes, and News. Many third-party apps also support this gesture, including Gmail, Chrome, Twitter, Facebook, Feedly, Asana, and Discord. While Apple doesn’t mention this as an official gesture, it is widely supported by most iPhone apps.
More iPhone swipe gestures
Of course, some apps and many websites use swiping left and right as a way to navigate between photos and videos. Swiping right is incredibly useful and absolutely unknowable unless you read it from some source other than Apple or accidentally discover it. Still, Apple shares a few more gestures and most of them are also great for saving time. Spotlight Search makes it easy to find just about anything on an iPhone. Apps, settings, documents, photos, and more can be quickly discovered by swiping down from the center of the home screen or lock screen to reveal a search box and open the keyboard.
Swiping down from the top right side of the screen opens Control Center for quick access to screen brightness, volume, and more. Swiping down from the top center of the screen reveals notifications, and swiping left on any notification clears it. Swipe down from the bottom and off the edge of the screen activates Accessibility, if enabled, to temporarily move the top of the screen down to reach higher more easily. These swipe gestures make a iPhone easier to use when you know, so it’s worth trying each one a few times to set up some muscle memory for that action.
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