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(Pocket-lint) – Apple’s Siri Shortcuts are designed to speed up actions you take in apps, and let you add those actions to Siri. There’s also a dedicated Shortcuts app, so you can create and manage multiple actions across multiple apps.
That’s all you need to know about Siri Shortcuts, how it works, and what it can do.
What are Siri Shortcuts?
Siri Shortcuts let you do things with your apps, with a simple tap or by asking Siri.
It’s basically about quick actions in your apps on iOS. They can automatically perform an action on an app in the background, or let you dive into an app to do something with a simple trigger phrase. In addition to running shortcuts, you can use the Shortcuts app to create custom shortcuts, simplifying everyday actions by combining steps across multiple apps.
So you can do things like tell Siri to “go to bed” and the digital assistant will switch your phone to Do Not Disturb or Sleep Focus. Some app developers also have their own custom Siri Shortcuts. Citymapper, for example, offers support for Siri Shortcuts, so you can create a shortcut to ask “when’s my next train” and then you’ll get related updates, platform info, and more.
Shortcuts appear in three main places on an iOS device: as tips (via the lock screen or Spotlight, proactively display shortcuts to app actions based on your usage); on Siri, activated by your own custom voice commands; and the Shortcuts app.
Siri Shortcuts also appear on Apple Watch devices through the Siri watch face for devices running WatchOS 5 and later.
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Shortcuts vs Actions: The Difference
A “shortcut” is a quick way to perform one or more tasks with your applications.
The Shortcuts app allows you to create your own shortcut in several steps. For example, you can create a “go for a run” shortcut that gets the weather report, provides an ETA for your usual route, and starts your workout music playlist.
Shortcuts can automate a wide variety of tasks, from getting directions to the next event on your calendar, moving text between apps, generating reports, and more.
An “action” is the cornerstone of a shortcut. It is a single step in a task. You can mix and match actions to create shortcuts that interact with apps on your iOS device, as well as content and services. Each shortcut is made up of one or more actions.
For example, a shortcut that posts an animated GIF to Twitter might contain three consecutive actions: Get the latest photos retrieve the last photos you have taken on your device; make GIF use these photos to create an animated GIF; Y cheep Post the GIF to your Twitter account.
Siri Shortcut Examples
Tile is a good example of how Siri Shortcuts can work with connected hardware. When you first open the Tile app, you’ll get a button that says “Add to Siri.” If you click this button and then record a custom phrase, such as “I lost my keys,” you’ll be able to execute this command simply by speaking to Siri. The command will then allow you to find a missing item that has a tile attached to it without having to worry about finding the Tile app, opening it, and then pressing a button.
Since Siri is built into iOS, it knows about events on your calendar, including meetings you have at work. Siri can also tell you’re late for work, based on your location and when the meeting starts. If it detects something like this, it will automatically offer to send a message to the meeting organizer telling them that they will be late or, if possible, suggesting that they call the meeting.
Siri is already learning your habits and will offer you navigation directions based on the places it knows you visit regularly. This ability is enhanced with hotkeys. For example, it may know that you visit the same coffee shop every morning on your way to work, and if the store supports it, you can reserve your drink before you arrive. Siri will learn this and automatically offer to order your usual before you leave home.
Siri suggestions will also appear in search results when you use Spotlight search on your device, if you’re using iOS 12 or later.
What is the Shortcuts app?
You can Download Siri Shortcuts from the App Store. There’s a whole gallery of templates to help you create routines and shortcuts.
All you need to know is that the Siri Shortcuts app allows you to create your own shortcuts. If you’re familiar with IFTTT (If This Then That), you know that it allows you to create mini-programs, an output based on an input called a recipe. For example, suppose you want to be reminded of something when you arrive at work. In this case, your phone will know when you arrive at work based on your location.
The Shortcuts app allows you to create recipes for various apps, based on different scenarios. If you get home from work, you can tell Siri “Heading Home” (again, this is a custom phrase) and it will then activate the shortcut you created. This can include getting navigation directions to your home based on your current location and texting your partner or roommate to let them know you’re on your way.
You can even adjust the temperature on a HomeKit thermostat to keep your home nice and warm when you enter. The Shortcuts app comes with plenty of tips to get you started in the Gallery view, while the My Shortcuts tab lets you view, add, or edit your shortcuts. You can also combine multiple Siri Shortcuts into a single “multi-step workflow”.
How to create and use a custom shortcut
To create a custom shortcut, open the Shortcuts app, create a new shortcut in the My Shortcuts view, then add actions in the Shortcut Editor view, and finally run your new shortcut to test it. Go here for step by step instructions.
The Shortcuts app gallery also offers a curated collection of useful shortcuts. You should explore the gallery to find shortcuts and see how they are built.
When you find a shortcut you like, you can add it to your My Shortcuts view with just one touch, and then customize it to suit your needs or preferences. After adding shortcuts from the Shortcuts app gallery or after creating your own shortcuts, you can easily launch them in the Shortcuts app itself or from iOS Today View or from your iOS home screen or just by asking Siri.
Third-Party Siri Shortcuts You Can Try
While Apple offers pre-made shortcuts, third-party app developers also offer their own. Here are some examples:
Written by Maggie Tillman. Edited by Britta O’Boyle.
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