With iOS 12, Apple made a wise decision to step back and focus on improving iPhone and iPad performance. However, there are still new features for you to take advantage of.
One of the best new features is Siri Shortcuts. It allows you to harness the power of personal assistant Siri to supercharge routines and make it easier to accomplish everyday tasks from popular apps.
Let’s take an in-depth look at Siri Shortcuts, how they improve the overall iOS experience, and how you can go even further with Apple’s Shortcuts app.
Say Hello to Siri Shortcuts
Before iOS 12 arrived, interacting with different apps to accomplish tasks took time and a lot of work on your device’s screen. Siri Shortcuts can help you save time when completing a single task or a larger series of actions that requires many apps.
For example, you could create a shortcut to quickly and easily view the forecast from one of the most entertaining weather apps available—Carrot Weather. The information will appear on the Siri screen without opening the app.
With help from the Shortcuts app, you can also create a more complicated Siri Shortcut. On your commute home, a Siri Shortcut can text someone that you’re hitting the road, automatically start Google Maps, and turn on a specific Apple Music playlist. Instead of having to interact with each app, you can customize a specific name for the shortcut and just ask Siri.
All of Apple’s built-in apps, like Mail, Safari, and many others, can use Siri Shortcuts. And third-party developers can also update their apps to provide support.
The best part of Siri Shortcuts is that you don’t need to do anything to use the feature. Apple’s software is always on the lookout for different daily routines with your different apps, as part of Proactive Siri. (We’ve compared Proactive Siri and the Google Feed if you’re interested.)
On the lock screen of your device or while doing a search, you’ll see a Siri Suggestion with a specific shortcut. Just tap the suggestion to launch the task.
How to Create a Siri Shortcut
But this is far from the only way to create or interact with a Siri Shortcut. Using any compatible third-party app, just look for the Add to Siri icon or a Siri Shortcuts section. Most apps will already provide several different tasks that are perfect for a shortcut.
On the next screen, you’ll see a better look at what exactly the shortcut will do. At the bottom of the screen is a record button. Select that to record a custom phrase to give Siri. Along with creating a memorable phrase, it’s best to keep this short—one or two words is perfect.
All the Siri Shortcuts you customize through third-party apps are available to view by going to Settings > Siri & Search. Select My Shortcuts to view everything you’ve created.
Below that is a Suggested Shortcut section. On the main page, you’ll see a few different Suggested tasks you do frequently. Just select the Plus button to create a shortcut for it.
Under the suggestions, select All Shortcuts for even more options. You can find a number of possible options from both Apple and third-party apps. Those are tasks you’ve already completed with the apps.
In the same section, you can also delete a Siri Shortcut or change the activation phrase.
As a nice bonus, you can also run many of the Siri Shortcuts created in iOS 12 using an Apple Watch or HomePod. If the shortcut can’t activate on those other devices, the voice command will start the process on your iOS device instead.
Using the Shortcuts App
Setting up and using a Siri Shortcut from a single app is definitely useful. But if you’d like to truly harness the power of this feature, download Apple’s Shortcuts app. Formerly known as Workflow, it provides a way for power users—or even novices—to experience iOS automation by tying together multiple apps and services.
The iPhone and iPad app has two major sections. Newcomers should head to the Gallery, where you can browse a huge number of pre-created shortcuts. If you’re looking for something specific, select the search bar on the top of the page.
When you find a shortcut to try out, just select it to see more information. Select Show Actions to see exactly what the shortcut does with different iOS apps and features. The Get Shortcut button will add it to your Library, the other section of the app.
On the main page of the Library, you’ll see all the available shortcuts. Selecting a shortcut will automatically run it.
To make any shortcut fully Siri-ready, tap the three-dot icon on it. That will bring up the entire instruction set of the shortcut. Finally, select the Settings icon at the upper-right part of that screen. There, you can record a phrase for Siri, change the shortcut name and icon, and more.
To start with a completely new shortcut, press the Plus button in the top-right corner of the Library.
This is where the real fun begins, especially for advanced users. The bottom of the screen shows a huge number of different actions to create a shortcut. When you select an option, the section will change to show appropriate actions that pair with it. Selecting the information icon near each action will show you more information and allow you to add the action to your favorites.
On the creation page, it’s easy to edit and move around the different actions. When you want to try out the shortcut, select the Play button in the top-middle of the screen.
For more on how to create and use a shortcut, Apple has a comprehensive Shortcuts User Guide.
Making the Most of Siri Shortcuts
With Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12, you can use the virtual assistant to better interact with apps you use most. It just takes a simple voice command or tap of the screen. And using Apple’s Shortcuts app, you can take the fun to a new level and create an almost unlimited number of different actions and other commands in a few steps.
If you wish your favorite apps worked better together, Siri Shortcuts can bridge the gap. It will also save you time on repetitive tasks every day. If you’re looking for other ways to be productive with your iPhone, check out these iOS widgets that help you get more out of your iPhone.
And for more on the latest for your iPhone or iPad, make sure to check out the best hidden iOS 12 features. We’ve taken an in-depth look at how Screen Time can help cure your phone addiction, too.