The Android Flashlight Hack You Should Know About

The new Android 13 Developer Preview build introduces a small, but useful change for the owners of Google Pixel phones: the flashlight function is now added to Quick Tap. Quick Tap was added last year as a means of making it easier to access some of your phone's most basic features with a physical double-tap to the back of a user's phone. You can program it to launch an app of your choice, or you can use it to take screenshots, open up Google Assistant, or display your notifications. It seems that soon enough, Google will expand that list by adding the flashlight, provided the feature makes it out of the Developer Preview and onto the real build. How useful is it going to be?

Do you remember the days of old, when you actually needed to own a flashlight just in case your home had a power outage? You may still own one (or a few), but these days, you're probably using the flashlight on your mobile phone more often than the battery-powered torch you or your family had under your sink a decade ago. Phone flashlights may not be the most powerful light sources, but some of the newer mobiles can provide quite a bit of brightness — enough to get you by in a pinch. 

However, finding the flashlight often involves digging through the menus, or at the very least, finding the icon among a handful of others in your notifications pulldown menu. Adding the flashlight to Quick Tap could therefore prove to be quite handy for some Google Pixels users, given that, unlike a real flashlight, your phone is usually always within arm's reach.

How does Quick Tap work?

Quick Tap is available to the owners of most Google Pixel phones, but not all of them. If you own the Google Pixel 5, 4a 5G, Pixel 5a, Pixel 6, or Pixel 6XL, you'll be able to use Quick Tap right this minute. Activating it is extremely simple: once you've programmed Quick Tap to your app of choice, all you have to do is double tap the back of your Pixel phone to launch the app. Similarly, tapping twice once again will close the app. Unfortunately, Quick Tap only works if your device is unlocked, so you can't simply pull it out of your pocket and tap twice — you'll have to unlock it, too.

You can set up your Quick Tap by going into Settings on your Pixel phone. Follow that up with "System," then "Gesture," and finally, "Quick Tap." You'll now be able to choose which app to bind to your double-tapping functionality. There's plenty to choose from, including taking screenshots, pausing or playing songs or other media, launching Google Assistant, and if you have the latest Android 13 build, opening up the flashlight. Pick the one that suits you and save the changes.

Quick Tap is certainly a fun feature, even if it's not much of a gamechanger. The fact that it only launches when your device is unlocked should ensure that you don't suddenly have a flashlight shining out of your pocket. If it saves you even two or three steps that you usually need to take to launch an app, it will have succeeded in making your life a little bit easier. Once it makes its way to the main Android 13 build, it will be available to a larger group of users.