App switching?

iOS and iPadOS

My memory about this is foggy, but I seem to recall that at one time a four finger swipe left or right allowed to to switch between running apps, but now I can't seem to get it to work. Did this feature get removed or is there some setting that might cause it to be disabled? I have looked everywhere in the Settings app looking for a setting that might cause this feature to be disabled, but so far haven't found it.




Submitted by Ishkabibble on Thursday, August 15, 2019

The 4-finger swipe left or right still cycles through the apps open on your device, but it is wildly inconsistent depending on what device you use. For instance, when I used an iPhone SE, I found the gesture cycled through all my apps but was hard to perform because of the extremely small screen, even with small fingers. When I upgraded to an iPhone 8 about 3 months ago, I found the gesture worked close to 100% of the time probably because of the increased screen real estate, which I love. On my iPad Air 2, the gesture works, but only with the 2 most recently opened apps on my device.

Submitted by Jason on Thursday, August 15, 2019

I just tried switching apps on my XR and it will switch between the 2 last apps that I've opened. The most reliable way to switch apps is with the app switcher. I know this is a longer process but it always works for me.

Submitted by Ishkabibble on Thursday, August 15, 2019

If you have a Braille display and use it with your iOS device over Bluetooth, there is a reliable way to switch apps using custom commands. If you go to Settings, General, Accessibility, VoiceOver, Braille, click the More Info option under your Braille display's name, go to Braille Commands, and then Device, you can assign custom key combinations for the "Open Previous App" and "Open Next App" commands. (I configured the "Open Next App" command to be triggered by pressing dots 4, 5, 6, and 8, and the "Open Previous App" command to be triggered by pressing dots 1, 2, 3, and 8, where 8 is the enter key.) Note that you can use the Braille Commands screen to configure other shortcuts (you can assign keys to trigger Siri, open the VoiceOver Settings screen, etc), as well as find out all the existing (already set) BRAILLE commands and their functions.

Submitted by chris R on Thursday, August 15, 2019

I have an iPhone SE and have found it to work very consistently. I personaly have no issues performing it with the small screen.

Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Thursday, August 15, 2019

I too have been encountering this odd behaviour with my 8 Plus.

I do recall it working 100% of the time on my 6 Plus, and I believe it may have worked, for a time, on my 8 Plus, but I find that I can no longer consistently switch between opened apps with the four-finger swipe left or right. It does randomly work, but like someone else said, only with two apps. Because of this inconsistency, I've just given up trying, after letting Apple know on many occasions.

Like someone else mentioned, I just use the app switcher instead as that works everytime.

Submitted by Orko on Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thanks for all the replies!

After fooling around with it some more, I found that it does still work on my SE, why it wasn't working when I tried earlier I can't say, perhaps it is the same inconsistancy that others have reported.

For small screens, like the one on the SE, I've found it's a lot more reliable if you place your four fingers on the screen in a verticle column instead of in a horizontal row. I've also found that it only works for the last two apps you used, so I don't see it as a true app switcher, so I'll just keep using the real app switcher by double tapping the 'Home' button.

Again, thanks for all the replies!

Submitted by Lee on Thursday, August 15, 2019

Ok well I also prefer using the vertical method for 4 finger swipes. That said I doubt that makes any difference. I've just tried this on my iPhone 8. Interestingly, I can switch between 3 apps. I opened 4 to test and the weird thing is if I then say go to the 4th app via the app switcher then I can then move between that app and another two. So never more than 3 and it seems to depend which app your in to which it drops. I think though it is difficult to be sure it drops the furthest to the left or right depending from where you start. Either way it isn't working right.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Thursday, August 15, 2019

So, when I four finger swipe, I do it with the phone held to the side to make it easier to fit my fat fingers on the screen, I can go all the way through apps to the left. The issue arises when you want to go back because, if you open the app centre, you will see that the app you are on has become the app on the far right so, has the way it works changed rather than its simply failed? You would have hoped you could essentially flick continuously through the apps you have open until you get back to the start but, with so many apps usually running, I can understand that this would be a laborious process.

Submitted by Orko on Thursday, August 15, 2019

At this point, I think we can all agree that if the four finger swipe is supposed to be a shortcut to using the app switcher, that it doesn't work as it's supposed to, and probably never will.

Instead of getting frustrated and annoyed, I'll just forget that that gesture even exists and just double tap my 'Home' button when I want to switch apps.

Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Thursday, August 15, 2019

Once I noticed that the gesture wasn't working properly, I did exactly that, just forget about the gesture entirely and use the App Switcher. At least it works properly everytime.