iOS 12: Apple wants to teach you how to use Siri Shortcuts

Shortcuts Gallery on an iPad Pro

Shortcuts Gallery on an iPad Pro

Siri Shortcuts is one of the most highly-anticipated iOS 12 improvements and Apple is pushing hard to try to teach us all how to use them properly, publishing an extensive set of resources to help you learn how to use them on its website.

What are Siri Shortcuts?

Based on an app Apple acquired called Workflow, Siri Shortcuts is a system that lets us easily automate lots of common tasks. You can put actions from different shortcuts together to get more complex things done, and you can also give your tasks spoken word titles.

You can then use those spoken titles to ask Siri on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, HomePod or Mac to accomplish those tasks for you.

This is very neat, as it answers one of the biggest challenges of spoken word AI – making it easy to find the correct spoken word command to get things done using only your voice. That’s a lot easier when you get to define the instruction.

Shortcut your travel plans

Shortcut your travel plans

Apple devices also watch for new ideas for Siri Shortcuts instructions using on-device intelligence to do so, which means information about you or your habits is never shared elsewhere, though the shortcuts themselves may be shared across your Apple ID devices (with end-to-end encryption, of course).

You can create shortcuts to

  • Call a friend
  • Find ATMs
  • Tweet images
  • And for far, far more complex tasks as you can combine shortcuts to get such complex tasks done.

“Shortcuts in iOS 12 let you get things done with your apps, with just a tap or by asking Siri. In addition to running shortcuts available on your iOS device, you can use the Shortcuts app to create custom shortcuts, simplifying everyday tasks by combining steps across multiple apps,” says Apple.

Apple wants to teach you how to use Siri Shortcuts

To help make it easier to figure out how to build your own Siri Shortcuts, Apple has published an extensive four-chapter guide to help. This is available on the company website and includes:

Where can I find more Siri Shortcuts?

The Shortcuts app also includes a Gallery of useful shortcuts that you can easily add to your collection. This is a great place to go to find some shortcuts you can use, and also to build your understanding of how they are made. Select one of these and just under the Get Shortcut button you’ll see the words, Show Actions, tap this to learn which Actions were included to make the shortcut work.

What about third-party apps?

Apps developers are able to use Apple-supplied API’s to build Siri Shortcut hooks for their software. They can build hooks that can be used to run specific tasks using their apps, and these tasks can then be selected and applied by an iOS user.

What about Workflow?

Siri Shortcuts are based on technology acquired when Apple purchased Workflow app. The latest version has multiple improvements in comparison to that app, as listed here:

  • Run shortcuts with your voice by adding them to Siri.
  • New actions are now available from apps that support Siri Shortcuts.
  • Siri will now suggest shortcuts you use routinely on the lock screen and in Search.
  • Siri suggests actions to add to shortcuts based on your routines and recent app usage.
  • Change your system settings with new actions like Set Wi-Fi, Set Low Power Mode, and Set Do Not Disturb.
  • Send and request payments with Apple Pay and your favorite apps with the new payment actions.
  • Run custom scripts in Safari with the new Run JavaScript on Web Page action.

Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

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