Siri Shortcuts bring new automation tools to the iPhone and iPad. Siri Shortcuts is an umbrella term. It encompasses proactive Siri suggestions for app actions that show up in Spotlight, Siri functionality for third-party app actions, and the new Shortcuts automation app.
Using all these new features, you can do some seriously cool stuff on your iPhone and iPad. The Shortcuts app lets you build complex workflows where you can do more than 1 action, one after the other and it’s all initiated by just talking to Siri. Or you can just create Siri phrase for specific actions inside your favorite apps. For instance, you use Siri to play podcasts in Overcast, mark a task as complete in Steaks, add water intake in Waterminder, log your weight in Health app or check the rain forecast using CARROT weather. All without opening the app. Siri will show you the results in line with the Siri view.
Let’s dive in:
- 1. Suggestions in Spotlight Search
- 2. Finally, Use Siri with A Wide Range of Third Party Apps
- 3. Launch Siri Shortcuts from Spotlight
- 4. Control Multiple System Level Features With Siri
- 5. Make a Shortcut for Morning Routine
- 6. Control Overcast Using Your Voice
- 7. Create Your Own Siri News Reader
- 8. Import Complex Workflows and Edit Them
- 9. Get Personalized Weather Data from Siri
- 10. Control Pandora With Your Voice
Here’s the beauty of the Siri Shortcuts feature. You don’t even need to set up a custom shortcut to start using it. Siri will automatically index available actions from installed apps and will present them to you in Spotlight search. When you swipe down, you might see an option to call someone back, to go back to a conversation you just left, or to open a website you usually visit during this time of the day.
This goes for both first and third party app. You’ll see suggestions to start a timer, to open an album in Photos app and more. Just tap on the suggestion to start the action. Once you’re familiar with the action, you can search for it in Spotlight to get to it again. Notice that you didn’t need to set up anything!
Siri’s third-party support has been quite limited, and fairly, abysmal. You could only use it for a certain kind of app and you’d have to mention the app’s name every time.
While Siri Shortcuts doesn’t fix all problems, it’s a vast improvement over the previous version. In iOS 12, apps can mark actions that can be done via Siri. Siri can jump to a specific part of an app, do a task in the background, or show information from the app in a rich preview.
Lots of third-party apps like Things, CARROT Weather, Pandora, Streaks, Overcast and so on have already added support for Siri Shortcuts and over the next couple of weeks, we’ll see more.
There are two ways you can go about this. You can either find the Siri Shortcuts section in an app’s settings screen to view all customizable Siri Shortcuts.
Or you can use the Settings app to view all available actions across all installed apps in one screen. To do this go to Settings -> Siri & Search -> All Shortcuts. Now, browse through everything. Tap on the + button next to an action to create a Siri phrase. Next time you say the Siri phrase, iOS will do the action for you.
Here are some of my favorite Siri Shortcuts actions so far:
- Playing a specific playlist in Apple Music.
- Resuming podcasts in Overcast.
- Playing a station in Pandora.
- Marking a habit as complete in Streaks.
- Opening and taking a picture in Halide using Siri.
- Opening a list or adding a task to a list in Things 3.
Using your voice to do things in third-party apps is really cool. But you can’t talk to your iPhone. In situations like this, search for the phrase in Spotlight.
You’ll find your shortcut there. Tap on it, then use the Do button to initiate the action.
As we talked about above, the biggest part of Siri Shortcuts is the Shortcuts app. You can use the Shortcuts app to create complex workflows. Pick from more than 300 actions, stack them one after the other link building blocks and then use Siri to initiate it all.
You can do a lot of cool stuff using Siri Shortcuts. Let’s start with doing something that would take 4 different taps.
Using system feature support in Shortcut, you can create a workflow that can disable Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, turn on Airplane mode and enable Do Not Disturb mode, all with one command.
Step 1: Open the Shortcuts app and tap on Create Shortcut.
Step 2: From the panel below, search for and add Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane, Cellular data and Do Not Disturb actions. Toggle them in your preferred state.
Step 3: Tap on the Settings button and give the shortcut a name. Next, tap on Add to Siri button and record a phrase for the shortcut. Something like “power down” or “goodnight”.
Step 4: Now, just bring up Siri and say the Siri phrase. The shortcut will initiate and will do all the 5 things, one after the other.
In the same way, you can create a shortcut to do multiple things for your morning routine. This is a great way to learn about different actions in Shortcuts.
I would suggest you explore the Search panel. Try to add shortcuts for things you already do. Like opening an app, loading a website, starting a playlist, messaging someone and so on. The specific tasks will depend on what your morning routine is like.
Finally, third-party podcast clients can use Siri. Overcast, the best free podcast app for iPhone has been updated with Siri Shortcuts support. Go to the app’s settings and select Siri Shortcuts. You can then record custom phrases to do almost every major action in the app. You can resume podcasts, play a specific playlist, turn off voice boost, recommend episodes and more.
This is quite simple, and Federico Viticci has already created the shortcut that you can import using this link. Basically, you paste in the RSS link for the website and Siri will read the five latest headlines from the source. The cool thing is that this works on HomePod and over AirPods too.
So if you have a favorite website like iPhoneHacks you like to catch up on every day, use this workflow. Import the shortcut from the link below, and replace the title and the RSS URL with your favorite site.
Download: Siri News Reader Shortcut
As we saw in the above workflow, you don’t really need to master features like variables and loops to start using Shortcuts automation on your iPhone or iPad. There’s an awesome community that is building and sharing workflows.
But you can start by just looking at the Gallery section in the Shortcuts app as well. Import from one of the 300 shortcuts made by Apple and start playing around with them.
Siri could always tell you the weather, sure but the amount of information you got was fairly basic. CARROT Weather, on the other hand, has 17 different kinds of Siri Shortcuts. You can ask the usual things like the current weather, tomorrow’ forecast, rain report but you can even drill down and ask for sunrise or sunset times, wind speed and more.
Open the CARROT weather app, go to Settings and choose Siri Shortcuts. Here, record the Siri phrase for the features you want to use. The Extended Report, Rain Report, and Temperature features can come in handy.
Download: CARROT Weather ($4.99)
So far the only music streaming service that could use Siri was Apple Music. But now that’s changing. You can now assign Siri Shortcuts in Pandora app to play specific playlists, albums or stations. Granted, this is limited compared to Apple Music. You can’t ask Pandora to play any old song.
But if you know that you usually only play a couple of playlists or stations, go to the apps’ settings and from the Siri Shortcuts section, set up voice commands.
How to Get Better at Building Shortcuts
Like anything else, you need to practice building shortcuts to master the skill. When you’re starting out, the process of building complex shortcuts can seem overwhelming.
Here’s our advice: just start. With something small and simple. And instead of importing shortcuts, try to recreate them on your own. Even if you just replicate the steps after adding a shortcut to the gallery, you’ll end up learning a lot.
What are some of your favorite Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12? Share with us in the comments below.