Apple did not announce any major enhancements to Siri for iOS 12 but it did announce Siri Shortcuts which provides one with essentially an unlimited set of permutations and combinations of commands that they can get the voice assistant to run. Apple is achieving this by building on its Workflow acquisition from 2017 and basically integrating it with Siri.
Siri Shortcuts allows one to set up a custom chain of commands which they can trigger quickly using Siri. Before you dismiss Siri Shortcuts as a feature for power users though, there’s a lot you need to know about it. Sure, it might seem a tool for nerds initially but it is actually an extremely useful feature even for an average iOS user. Here’s everything you need to know about Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12.
Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12: Everything to Know!
The Siri Shortcuts demo shown by Apple at WWDC 2018 how third-party apps like Tile or Starbucks could expose their shortcuts to Siri for quick actions like finding your keys or ordering your morning coffee. The demo itself provided a lot of information about Siri Shortcuts than what Apple mentioned on stage.
It is all Automated!
Firstly, Siri itself will offer you quick shortcut suggestions depending on your phone usage habits. So, if you wake up every day and then use your phone to order coffee while on your way to the office, Siri will learn this behavior and automatically show the relevant shortcut action on the lock screen.
Similarly, Shortcuts will offer suggestions to call or message the person with whom you have a meeting scheduled if you are running a little late. If you message your loved one after reaching the office every day, Siri will learn this behavior and automatically start recommending this shortcut to you. The possibilities here are endless as Siri will only get smarter as you use your device more. Depending on your location or time of the day, Siri can suggest you a shortcut to put your phone in silent mode if you are at the movie or if its late in the night and you are about to sleep.
All the above happens automatically with zero user intervention. But that’s not all. There’s more that you can do with Siri Shortcuts here.
Easily create new shortcuts
iOS 12 is going to come with a dedicated Shortcuts app which will allow users to create their own custom workflows. Its an extremely power app with support for third-party apps. It would be up to the app developers to decide what quick shortcuts they’d like to expose to the Shortcuts app. However, the app might be overwhelming for most iOS users, but the good news is that you don’t need to use Siri Shortcuts to create a new workflow.
Third-party apps will feature an ‘Add to Siri’ button in their apps tapping on which would allow users to set up a custom voice command for Siri to trigger that particular action. At WWDC 2018, Apple demoed how the Kayak app displayed a ‘Add to Siri’ button for all their upcoming trips which the user could then bring up anytime using their custom “travel plans” Siri voice command.
For an average iOS user, this is a big deal as they will not have to rack their brain to create new Siri Shortcuts. Developers can do that for end users to improve the overall user experience.
If you ever used the popular iOS automation app Workflow, you will feel right at home with Shortcuts. Being a third-party app, Workflow had its own set of limitations. But now that it has become a system app in iOS 12, these limitations no longer exist. Using the Shortcuts app, you can create a chain of commands which you can then easily run using a simple Siri voice command.
The above screenshot is extracted from Apple’s demo of the Shortcuts app during WWDC 2018. As you can see, one can create a custom Siri Shortcut “Heading Home” which contains a chain of commands including the travel time from your current location to your home which would then be forwarded to a recipient of your choice.
The same command can be used to set the thermostat in your home to a temperature of your choice. Similarly, you can create a “Reached Office” Siri shortcut which will send your loved one a message informing them you have reached the office, turn off the thermostat in your home, lower your iPhone’s ringer volume and more. The important thing to note here is that you are not just limited to opening or closing an app as a part of your workflow but specific actions from it as well, with variables being setup when user input is required.
At first glance, the option to create a workflow in Siri Shortcuts might intimidate most users and deter them from using the app at all. For this, there’s a gallery in Siri Shortcuts that will showcase the most popular workflows created by users. These workflows would be downloadable which would allow users to enjoy using complex workflows created by other advanced users without having to go through the hassle of setting it up themselves. These workflows can be used to automate day-to-day tasks like sharing portrait photos that you click with a particular contact, turning Wi-Fi on/off at a particular location, and more.
As of now, the iOS 12 beta released by Apple does not have the Siri Shortcuts app. However, it is likely that we will see Apple include the app as a part of one of the future beta releases of the OS before the final iOS 12 release in September.
For Workflow Users:
While there was no announcement from Apple regarding this, there are rumors that Siri Shortcuts will be compatible with all your existing workflows from the Workflow app. If true, this might be a big deal for existing Workflow power users as they would be easily able to carry forward their workflows to iOS 12 without going through the headache of setting it up again. But then again, there has been no official word from Apple regarding this so don’t get your hopes high until this piece of news is confirmed by some credible sources.
Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12 is an extremely powerful feature and Apple has done well to ensure that it caters both to an average joe as well as advanced users alike. What do you think about Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12? Do you think its a game-changing feature? Or do you think Apple could have done better?