How to use long-press home button for app switcher in iOS

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iOS added multitasking functionality in iOS 4. In Android, the task manager plus app-switcher is activated by long-pressing the home button. iOS takes a different approach and brings up the Recent apps tray when you double press the home button.

The home button on iPhones and iPods is quite durable, but no button can stay perfect after months of regular use, particularly when it is the only hardware button on the entire front face of the device. Repeated usage wears down the button. Evidence of that can be found on 2-3 year old iPhones. For example, on my iPhone 3GS, the home button (which was rather soft on the 3GS anyway) eventually turned softer and is not quite as click-ey as a new iPhone. The feedback is missing, as is the click sound. For users who want perfection, this can be particularly discerning. Besides, long-pressing a button takes less effort than doing a precise, short double-press.

Unlike Android, customization on iPhones is a mixed bag. You can reconfigure the iPhone or iPod Touch (don’t call it iTouch!) to use long press of home button as the app-switching macro. There is a catch, however. Your iPhone has to be jailbroken. The iPhone is fully locked down in its stock form, and jailbreaking provides the root user permissions required to change and modify files at a low level, which enables the long-press mechanism to be mapped on to the home key.

Installing a Cydia tweak called Activator enables you to map various gestures (including swyping on various parts of the screen, button macros etc) to actions or apps.

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Open up Cydia, the jailbreak app store. Hit the search tab, search for and install “Activator”.

If the search did not turn up Activator, maybe you do not have the Big Boss repository (which hosts Activator). Big Boss comes as a default repository on jailbreak, so perhaps something is wrong with your jailbreak.

Once you have installed Activator, open it up and tap “At home screen”. Now, tap “long press” under home button and assign it to the app switcher.

That’s it – your iDevice now brings up the app switcher upon long pressing the home button, a comfortable alternative to the clunky double-press default.