How are you liking the new iOS 4 Home Button?

iPhone 4 multitasking fast app switcher

Under iOS 4, if you're using an iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS, when you double click the Home Button the UI slides up and reveals the multitasking fast app switcher "behind" the dock. That certainly fixes the problem of moving between apps quickly, but it sacrifices everything the double click did on previous iOS versions.

As recently as a few weeks ago under iOS 3 (iPhone 3.0), double clicking the Home Button would send you to Phone Favorites. Under Settings, you could change that to Spotlight Search, Camera, or iPod Controls. (iPod controls were, and remain, the default behavior of a Home Screen double click if your iPhone is locked and audio is playing). Under iOS 4, those settings are gone.

Briefly under one of the iOS 4 betas, double click would launch the fast app switcher and double click and hold would launch phone favorites. This seems like a great alternative but it disappeared in later betas and never returned. (See our iOS 4 walkthrough for more.)

Sure, with iOS 4 multitasking you can use the fast app switcher to quickly get to the Phone App, and saved state means that if it was last on Favorites, it will return you right back to favorites. There are also widgets just to the left, which are slightly more complicated to get to but do take the place of popup iPod Controls. So, in some ways, the loss of old functionality is mitigated somewhat by the addition of new functionality -- but not the loss of elegance.

Perhaps the settings could return but instead of choosing what launches on double click, there could be a way to pin Phone Favorites, Spotlight, or Camera to the first spot in fast app switcher when it's launched. It would be one additional action -- click, click, tap instead of just click, click -- but it would be usable. Better yet, triple click can currently be assigned to bringing up the accessibility options. If you turn that off, how about letting us re-assign the triple click to the old double click options?

In the meantime, let us know what were you using double click for under iOS 3, if you miss it under iOS 4, and if you've found any good work arounds for it? Or is the new fast app switcher and widgets enough?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How are you liking the new iOS 4 Home Button?


I used to make the double click bring up iPod controls, but I don't really miss it. I lock my phone most of the time anyway so iPod controls still work. I'm surprised Apple hasn't allowed more complex gestures on the iPhone. The Mac is loaded with gestures. I guess the could at least give triple click or double click/hold. The Sbsettings swipe is great too.

Totally hit the nail inthe head! I really miss this function as I use the iPhone to play music all the time. It's a pain without the double cluck (and at a push would rather have it back!). I did search & notice about the triple click option. big sigh

There's definitely something out of sync here, as I can still use double-click on lock screen (on my 3GS running iOS4) to get iPod controls... Just as I did on previous versions.
Not that I did use them, or will though. (But I love the widgets on the left of slider, that let's you control ANY music app running, not only iPod app)

I agree. Double tap to phone favorites was nice to have. I wish they would come up with a replacement for that.

I used it for favorites on my 3G. I just discovered voice control yesterday for dialing. Might be able to handle my favorites list.

I used to have the home dbl-tap set to Favorites, and it didn't have much utility, so I set it to iPod control. Since I never try to operate the iPod functionality, getting to playback controls isn't that hard, so I felt no loss. Now I double-tap the home button like a madman, task switching is good to me.
I understand the pangs that the people who had it set to camera though.

This is why Activator is so great. Letting you set what any button or swipe gesture on the screen does is a very powerful feature. And unlike the old choices Apple gave you, with Activator you can set any app or action you want.
It is working pretty well with iOS4 right now, but it is currently in RC still though. For updates you can follow the developer at

First couple of times I missed it but now I don't. I like the logic of the 'multitasking' bar better. More practical...

Double-click for iPod. I listen to tons of podcasts. Still waiting on iOS 4.0.1 before upgrading, but it appears I would have to retrain with double-click, then swipe-right.
I tried double-click for favorites and camera before, but it appears I don't use those function all that much. ;)

i still find the whole multitasking / fast app switching completely worthless.
When a jailbreak is finally released I hope they have backgrounder use the current design / look of the "multi tasking" but get rid of saved state etc.
Waste of time when hardly any apps support it and i hate how all my apps go into the task bar. Annoying

Double click for camera was my set-up. Miss it alot since I use the camera more with iPhone 4. And scrolling thru all previously used apps in the fast app switcher is a pain.

I used it to quickly open the camera and I miss it! Unbelievably stupid decision of Apple to remove the double-click-and-hold shortcut...

Why are people saying jailbreak? Steve Jobs specifically said not to jailbreak your phone. It makes it unstable and open to malware. Besides, everybody knows what jailbreaking is and what it does so you people can stop the proselytizing.

Thanks for writing about this as it has been something that I have severely disliked about iOS4.
I used to use double click for favorites to quickly call regular contacts. This was very helpful when driving as it was quick and not distracting. Now, I have to double the amount of time and triple the distraction to do the same thing.
Any new OS should make it easier to make phone calls on a smart phone, not more difficult. When I am using the apps function on the iPhone, I am usually sitting somewhere and have more than enough time and focus to make a few extra swipes. While in my car I have never had to quickly switch apps as often as I have had to quickly make a phone call so my eyes stay more on the road and less on the phone. Sure, there is Voice Control, but I have a ton of contacts and so it is not as accurate most of the time.
Apple really needs to address this and make it more customizable. As amazing as the iPhone and all its wonderful apps are, it is a phone after all. Shouldn't its main focus be making calls as quickly and easily as possible?

I honestly believe that the UI needs an overhaul. This guy from Palm they hired is probably gonna bring the iPhone some major changes. It's just gonna take another year or so. I'm all for the multitasking but there has got to be a way to implement the things we lost in the double click. But it seems with these Android blunders in sales and not having all of the things they need in hardware for devices is giving Apple time to work all these things out. I'm a 3GS user and I love my device but this process is so slow at times.

big bad hate-monger says:
July 12, 2010 at 10:32 am
Why are people saying jailbreak? Steve Jobs specifically said not to jailbreak your phone. It makes it unstable and open to malware. Besides, everybody knows what jailbreaking is and what it does so you people can stop the proselytizing.
i lol'd

Glad you wrote about this - my muscle-memory STILL hasn't adjusted to the way I used to pull up Spotlight search. Given that you can use double-click for fast app switching, the shortcut to other controls isn't greatly missed - but there is no quick way to get to Spotlight search without first getting back to the home screen, from what I can tell. So yeah, its a bummer that the feature is locked with no way of setting it as a preference.

Don't be a dick, iOS4 has only been out 3 weeks, some apps have been updated for save states, I would expect most if not all new apps will, and the rest need the devs to get their finger out their arse and update them.
Personally as an ex-jailbreaker I think the way Apple have implemented multitaksing is FAR better than backgrounder & proswitcher.

Used the double click to Access the Camera, and i really miss it! Any Solution (double and Tab or Triple) is Vetter than the Status quo.

My double click used to be my camera. With 2 young boys I take alot of pics and it was easy to pop the camera up. Sure do miss it.

Didn't use the double-click before, don't understand the purpose of it now. Only needed when an app won't reload and needs to be closed out.

With Voice Control I rarely used the double click anyway.
If I want to call anyone, not just favorites, I just tap and hold the home button from anywhere & say who I want to call.
Also, for spotlight, you can get there by tapping twice with a short pause between the two taps anyway. So that's not a big deal for me.
The iPod controls are already in the task switcher, so that's no loss.
The one item is the camera. But I already leave that icon on my 1st home page along with my other most used apps. So just tapping the home button gets me back to that screen for a fast launch. (And with folders on my other screens, I went from 11 screens to 3, so there isn't much swiping back and forth anymore anyway.)
So I haven't missed the double tap changes much at all.

I miss it, I miss it, I miss it. I find myself unintentionally multi-tasking several times a day, even though it's been 2-weeks since upgrading. Seems like we need to keep remindingtjem this is an iPHONE. I hope Apple listens on this one.

I feel Dan's pain to an extent. While I like Apple's implementation of multitasking more than he seems to, I wish I could exclude some apps from going down to the multitasking area. I tend to manually clear them out if I know the app does not support saved state or any of the other multitasking processes.

I really miss the old functionality. I would use double click of the home button to bring up iPod controls or the camera if I planed on going somewhere I planned on taking a few photos. And when I wasn't playing music it would go to my phone favorites. It was pretty sweet. The new way sort of works but not as nicely as I would like. I also miss all the extra info we would get on the iPod popup like track info, volume slider, and audio sources (when using Bluetooth). Wish we could have the old double tap behavior back with the fast app switcher being 1 of the choices. With folders and a little icon juggling though, I wouldn't miss the app switcher if I could have my old controls back.

The double clicking home button still takes you to the iPod controls if the phone is locked. This is when I use this feature anyway. If your in the phone, there are a number of ways to go to the iPod controls, one being you double click the home button and slide to the right. It's a slight change but I think still works really well.

i miss the old functionality. i used to use it for the camera.
i think the double click quick launch could be replaced by holding both + and - volume buttons for a moment and up would pop up the camera or ipod controls.

Having all your apps go into the taskbar is extremely annoying especially when it takes awhile to actually close them. It brought my 3G to a crawl so I just rejailbroke and disabled that feature. I much prefer backgrounder and proswitcher hd on my iPad because it only background what I want and when I want it to. It works to leave everything open on osx but that's because the dock holds more than 4 items

I'm not sure why they limited it to that bottom 1-row space. They could have made 2 rows. Top row would be the screen lock and iPod/music app controls and remain static (eliminating the need to swipe left). While the task switcher remains movable at the bottom. If you want to go further, you could fill up the double-click screen with a search bar, camera app, and hopefully in the future-notifications & widgets. I dunno, seems like an idea I'm hoping to see on iOS 5.

I understand the folks that used double click for camera, missing that. But double click for favorites makes no sence to me. The phone icon is in your dock so it's available any time. And if you last used favorites it will be favorites next time too.

I am very bummed this feature disappeared in iOS 4.
I used the double tap to camera feature ALL THE TIME.
Now whenever I see some retarded kid on the street it takes like 5 minutes just to go and open the camera from the home screen...

+1 for adding a PHYSICAL camera button on the next iPhone...I'm one of those missing the double-click Camera.
iPhone cameras have been the BEST out of all my phones, and the hardest to make instant use out of. IOS4 just makes it worse. :-(

Used it for iPod. Don't miss it.
@Devin. I don't know what POS iPhone you're using, but if it's taking 5 minutes, format and reinstall.

I spoke to a guy in Apple Genius Bar about my concern of not being able to double-click the home button to call my favorite contact in iOS4 and he told me that I can just disable multitasking. I went home and searched but found that multitasking cannot be disabled except for jailbroken phones. LOL!

I'm JB and I've had MusicControls installed from cydia for about a year now. In iOS4 when you double tap, not only does the mutli-tasking bar pop up on the bottom, but iPod(pandora, slacker, etc) pops up at the top of the screen, so you never have to swipe to the left. It's one of my favorite JB apps.
see it in action here: [IMG][/IMG]
I also had my double click set to open my camera and it's the one thing I miss the most in iOS4. I've tried to use activator to set the slide in from bottom of screen gesture to open the camera, but everytime I try to set it, the app crashes. Any one else having this problem?
Activator: [IMG][/IMG]
Other than that, I'm loving the save state and fast app switching, backgrounded music and location awareness services.

The new version of "Activator" is out and they fixed all the bugs crashing the app, which means I have fast access to my camera again!!! So iPod controls/fast app switching on double tap anywhere in the OS and Camera access on a simple swipe from the bottom of the screen anywhere in the OS too!!! Love it!

I have never used it although I had it assigned to iPod controls. I doubt I will miss it since I've never used it on any of my iphones in 3 years.

I used to use it for the Camera >_< not much of a prob though, since folders = 1 homescreen and I have the Camera on the top row with 3 other apps, rest are folders.

I use the double-click for iPod controls only when the phone is locked, so iOS4 doesn;t impact my behavior there. Search is easy enough to get to by clicking once to get to home screen, then clicking again or swiping left to bring up search. Camera and the other 11 apps I use most are on the home screen. The rest are either loose on the second screen or in folders on the second screen. Have set up one folder for games, one for guitar apps, and three for seldom used, rarely used and never used apps that I don't want to throw off the phone yet. Am trying the folders thing starting just now, so I don't know if I'll like it or not.

@ghostface - If Devin is using an iPhone 3G it very well may have taken that long to open the camera app. The iPhone 4 was a huge breath of fresh air for me in the speed department!

They also took away the separated lyrics and podcast info. You used to be able to touch the album art area and make the lyrics and podcast info go away but keep the progress indicator but now they both disappear so you end up having to disable the lyrics and podcast info if you want to keep the progress indicator in view. I wish they would stop taking away features that I use.

Used it for the camera it was fast and I always got those quick shots I wanted. I thought the "buttons" on the side would help out with this or aleast the volume button could be used to take a picture, its hard to take a one handed pic without looking at the screen. lol

I'm very confused. I've upgrade my 3G to iOS4. I've experienced some performance hits and started looking for solutions. I had hoped accessing the Multitask Bar and closing some apps would help. However, when I double tap the home button, I get my phone favorites, just like I have always gotten. When I go to settings, I still have an option for Home Button double tap (Home, Search, Phone Favorites, Camera, iPod). I do have iOS 4. I've confirmed it in Settings. Also, I have folders, unified Mail, iBooks, etc. It sounds like other don't have that option anymore? Any ideas would be much appreciated.

I just got my IPhone4 up and running and have had a Iphone since they came out....I REALLY miss the double click to open favorites, which I had set to open Ipod controls. Since my phone is ALWAYS locked, I HOPE they give us the ability to bring up the IPod controls when locked!!!!!!!!

I used it for favorites. All the time. I have no use for the multitasking fast app switcher and wished they would give us the option to use it as we wish. Oh, and I hate that the switch on the iPad is now a mute button (jet sayin')