Hands-On With the Siri Shortcuts Beta App in iOS 12

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple last week introduced a beta version of the Siri Shortcuts app that's designed to let iOS 12 users create Workflow-style shortcuts and assign Siri commands to them, allowing a range of actions to be executed with voice-based requests.

    While the app is complex, powerful, and can be explored for hours without uncovering all that it can do, we thought we'd take a quick look at it in our latest YouTube video to give MacRumors readers an idea of what to expect from Siri Shortcuts when it launches this fall.

    The Shortcuts app (and the Siri Shortcuts feature) is based on the Workflow app that Apple acquired in 2017, so if you've used Workflow before, Siri Shortcuts and the dedicated Shortcuts app will be immediately familiar to you.

    Shortcuts allows you to create multi-step customizable workflows that can use first-party apps, third-party apps, and Apple services and settings, which ultimately leads to a huge number of possibilities for tasks that can be streamlined and simplified. While much of this was possible with Workflow, adding Siri to the mix makes it easier to execute your shortcuts.


    If you're unfamiliar with Shortcuts, the best way to describe the feature is through examples.

    You can create a "I'm going home" shortcut that sets the thermostat at a lower temperature using the Nest app, texts your roommate that you're on the way home from work, turns on the lights at home, and opens up the Maps app with directions to your house, with the entire action activated using Siri.

    Or, as Apple demonstrated during the WWDC keynote, you can make an "I'm going surfing" shortcut that uses a Siri command to get a surf report, display the current weather, calculate an estimated time of arrival to the beach, and prepare a reminder to put on sunscreen. Simpler shortcuts do things like turn a Live Photo into a GIF or surface photos you took a year ago.

    When you install the Shortcuts app, you'll see that it's already populated with a huge gallery of pre-created shortcut options, along with all of your previously created Workflow shortcuts if you regularly use Workflow.


    The Gallery section provides multiple suggestions on how shortcuts can be used, offering up options like "Home ETA," which shares how long it will take you to get home, "Photo Grid," which lets you select photos and organize them into a grid," "Log Day One Activity," which starts a new diary entry in the Day One app," and "Make Top 25 Playlist," which creates a playlist from your 25 most listened to songs.

    Shortcuts in the Gallery are organized in different sections like "Designed for Safari," "Share From Other Apps," "Essentials," "Morning Routine," "Explore Apple Music," "Stay Healthy," "Photography," "Do More Around the House," "On the Interweb," and much more, and there's a search option if you're looking for something specific.


    You can modify any of the shortcuts in the gallery to tailor them to your needs or you can create shortcuts from scratch. All of your shortcuts you download are stored in the Library tab, and if you tap the "+" button in this section, you can create new shortcuts.


    When making your own shortcuts, there are a huge range of actions and options to choose from, from both first and third-party apps. You can access actions from apps that include Health, Contacts, Calendar, Maps, Music, Photos, the web, and more, with these options set to expand over the course of the beta testing period as third-party apps begin implementing Shortcuts support.


    All of your shortcuts can be "Added to Siri," which assigns a personalized phrase to the shortcut. Going forward, the shortcut can then be activated using that particular Siri command.


    The Shortcuts app is limited to developers at the current time, and developers who have not signed up for the Shortcuts TestFlight beta can do so through the "Request" option available in the download section of the Apple Developer Center.

    It is not clear if Apple will expand the TestFlight beta to its public beta testing group, but expect the Shortcuts app to launch alongside iOS 12 this fall.

    What do you think of the new Shortcuts app and the Siri Shortcuts feature in iOS 12? Let us know in the comments.

    Article Link: Hands-On With the Siri Shortcuts Beta App in iOS 12
  2. stukdog macrumors 6502

    Oct 20, 2004
    It's so nice to see a team/app bought up by Apple, and then allowing them to do what they do best.

    Sidenote: A nice site has already been launched to share shortcuts at http://sharecuts.app
  3. chfilm macrumors 68000


    Nov 15, 2012
    It will stand or fall with the support of third party developers and tight integration into their apps.

    One thing that I never understood about automator and that really put me off, and it seems still to be like this with shortcuts, is that you SEE the shortcut doing all particular in between steps actually carried out. I just want to say something and then see the result..
  4. jonblatho macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2014
    If you add a shortcut to Siri, it avoids leaving the Siri interface if at all possible. If you run a shortcut in the Shortcuts app, it will show you the workflow in progress. There are some cases like “Ask for Input” where a Siri-run shortcut does wind up opening the Shortcuts app, though. It’s possible that the “Ask for Input” action could be modified to work with Siri.

    My first shortcut does the following after “Hey Siri, I’m going to bed”:
    1. Enables Do Not Disturb until morning (the next occurrence of 7:30 AM)—does not leave Siri
    2. Sets the system volume to 0—does not leave Siri
    3. Says “OK, I turned on Do Not Disturb and muted audio. I’ll open Sleep Cycle so you can start a session. Good night!”—does not leave Siri
    4. Opens the Sleep Cycle app—leaves Siri. (With an app update this fall, this may possibly be replaced with an action to start analysis directly without opening the app depending on whether Apple has privacy concerns about the microphone usage)
  5. Sevanw Suspended


    Sep 13, 2014
    Apple should concentrate on developing Siri to be more competent as a digital assistant, rather than make pack of shortcuts. Sure it's great for children in elementary school to play with, but what about adults that have real productivity needs. At least Samsung takes AI seriously, and invests in it. They're already winning AI competitions. That's what happens when you wait and play the long game, rather than rush out a gimmicky thing like Siri. Bixby 2.0 should be a big leap forward. Bone crushing dominance in AI.

  6. stiligFox macrumors 65816


    Apr 24, 2009
    How do you mean? You can, in Automator, save the workflow as an application and you won’t see it work.

    I have an workflow application that sorts and renames my image dump folder for me; it does it all in the background after I activate it (except for the “are you sure” prompt I created within it). It doesn’t even launch Automator, but if you save it as a workflow then it will have to launch Automator to run the program.

    That said, I have a feeling Siri will do it all in the background without having to show you step by step...
    --- Post Merged, Jul 9, 2018 ---
    I don’t know, I feel like this creates a tool for custom commands that would be super unwieldy even for the best assistant. Just even for the top example image - asking Siri to “get the top 20 Live Photo’s, convert them into 5 second gifs, and show them to me” is going to be a frustrating experience as it tries to understand what the user wants.

    I feel like this tool will actually eat me to use Siri for more than “set a timer for a minute and thirty seconds”.
  7. ghostface147 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2008
  8. iOSUser7 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2014
    Can you use this app to ask Siri to empty the « Recently Deleted Photos » folder?
  9. TimmeyCook, Jul 9, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018

    TimmeyCook Suspended


    Jun 20, 2018
    I can open an email and tell Siri to remember me about it when I arrive at office.

    Siri is smart enough to figure it all out, including where my office is.

    Bixby can’t do that.

    Also saying this is “for children” is just ridiculous.
  10. Mac Fly (film), Jul 9, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018

    Mac Fly (film) macrumors 65816

    Mac Fly (film)

    Feb 12, 2006
    Welcome to the future!

    --- Post Merged, Jul 9, 2018 ---
    It’s a very powerful tool and it can get very complicated quickly. For you, I suggest either avoiding the app or use only the shortcuts others recommend to you. Over time I see it evolving. There’s a particular video on YouTube for tying a rope knot and I always seem to forgot how to tie the knot. I’d like a shortcut to open that video when I say “knot”. This way when I’m in a position in my life where I need that video I need only say one word and I’m at that video and done. These kinds of use cases are great. Or simple things such as, “set a three minute timer” (for my eggs) is now just “eggs”.
  11. synergize macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Someone should explain to Apple what "superfluous" means.
  12. BasicGreatGuy Contributor


    Sep 21, 2012
    In the middle of several books.
    Audio is muted in DND already, unless you have a favorites list. Is that why you set it to zero?
  13. jonblatho macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2014
    I’m referring to in-app audio (the slider in Control Center); Siri can’t touch the volume for alerts which are indeed disabled under DND, at least not using Shortcuts. Sleep Cycle functions as an alarm with sound and vibration, but I don’t need the sound because the vibration is more than enough to wake me up. Sometimes, it seemingly ignores the “Vibration only” setting in the app and sets the alarm volume to blasting (or I might do it myself while sleeping…Lord knows), or if I forgot to turn the volume down before bed, so that’s why that’s there.
  14. Larryzuluking macrumors newbie


    Dec 14, 2015
    Well.....the thing about this feature is that it’s not being developed by, Samsung, Or Google, Or Microsoft...it’s being developed by Apple. Now, what I mean by this is Apples about to do something that all those companies can’t. There about to release an AI automation feat that will be supported by a hug number of developers on day one. This a something every one of these companies I mentioned earlier would kill for, literally. Google has promised features like this for years, but could never get enough mainstream developers to support these type multiple actions in there apps, because of Googles problem with only a small number of users having the latest OS version. Apple has developer devotion that’s off the charts. Every time Apple releases a new OS feature tons of IOS developers have that feature integrated into there apps before the official release of that latest OS. This is something Google, and Microsoft would kill for. Samsung, is another case all together.....I can’t see Bixby ever being the top choice for any developer integration (it’s not even thought of). MARK....MY.....WORDS, when IOS 12 is released, your going to see ADD TO SIRI buttons on a rediculous number of apps, including almost all mainstream apps. It will be something Samsung could only dream of.
  15. Bdub12 macrumors regular

    Feb 23, 2011
    Fredericton NB Canada
    I'm hoping that you can tell Siri to always airplay an audio app to a HomePod or other Airplay target. That gets around some of the 3rd party limitations of the HomePod. SiriusXM or Spotify could create their own shortcuts.
  16. tliede20 macrumors regular


    Nov 19, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    I don't think it'll be able to do what I am dreaming it SHOULD do...

    For example...

    I'd love to create shortcut where upon GPS arrival to my home it executes the following:

    Unlock Front Door
    Turn on Lights / Fans
    Turn on TV
    Play Music on Living Room Homepod
  17. Sevanw, Jul 9, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2018

    Sevanw Suspended


    Sep 13, 2014
    Bixby already does more than Siri, which in all honesty, is not saying much. Lol.
    Read the link, Apple will never be on that level of AI. Siri's been around longer than Bixby, yet it's the worst DA around.
  18. ipedro macrumors 68040


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    None of what you said makes any sense. You’re complaining about the very thing that is solving the very problem you’re complaining about. If you had bothered to look at what Shortcuts is, you’d have known that it’s not just an app. It’s a brand new Siri framework that’ll enable it to be infinitely scalable. The original Siri wasn’t scalable which is why it got stuck in the mud for the past several years. The new foundation upon which Shortcuts is built will allow for Siri to grow, not only through manual automations but through machine learning. People like you have been complaining about Siri for years (and you continue to complain). Shortcuts and the framework behind it is the fix.
  19. Kaibelf, Jul 9, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2018

    Kaibelf macrumors 68020


    Apr 29, 2009
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Every time there's ANY new feature from Apple for ANY product, someone feels the need to complain and say what Apple "should be doing instead" as if they are only capable of working on one thing, and as if everyone in the whole company has the same job. And usually those same broken records play out with lyrics about how it's "kiddie stuff" and now "real professionals" have needs that are just above everyone else. It's tired. Your demands and needs are not more important than everyone else's, and if you want priority, go work at Apple, get the CEO role, and change it.

    Also, if you like Samsung so much, buy a Samsung. Seriously. What's the point of hanging out here?
    --- Post Merged, Jul 9, 2018 ---
    Most of that it just existing Homekit stuff (GPS can already trigger smart devices in your home when you arrive). This is for more elaborate stuff like running a homekit command for lights/temp, texting your spouse, checking traffic, and perhaps ordering food with a single command like "I'm leaving work"
  20. hortod1 macrumors regular


    Jan 26, 2009
    Exhausted just watching that video. Forget actually creating one.

    Seems I should be able to just ask Siri to create a shortcut for me.
  21. ipedro macrumors 68040


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    Good news: you won’t have to ever touch this app in order to get a lot out of what Shortcuts will bring to Siri. Apps will build Shortcuts for you. Siri itself will suggest automations through machine learning and build Shortcuts for you.

    This app is for those who want to get hands on and geek out. Like Terminal or Automator or complex keyboard shortcuts in macOS, you don’t have to learn the advanced functions of the OS in order to use it.
  22. EdT macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2007
    Omaha, NE
    Yes! In an opposite way!
  23. somethingelsefl, Jul 9, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018

    somethingelsefl macrumors 6502


    Dec 22, 2008
    Tampa, FL
    So this is basically "Automator" for the iPhone? I can't help but feel like this is a bit... uninspired.

    I purchased Workflow and loved it. I really thought Apple would do something more... exciting.

    IFTTT has much easier, accessible user interface with "triggers" or "calls for action" that Shortcuts lacks.

    {{{For example, to turn off my ringer when I get to work and send an email to my boss stating. "In the office ready for the morning muster."}}}

    (User-generated input)
    "Siri, activate morning routine!" or push the shortcut widget button. (Need to prompt 5 days a week)

    --- Everytime when the phone is at the preset work location the IFTTT triggers the cascading actions---
  24. chucker23n1, Jul 9, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2018

    chucker23n1 macrumors 68000


    Dec 7, 2014
    Sure sure. Wake me up when Bixby is available in languages other than English, Mandarin and Korean. And when people don't frantically try to change the hardware button to launch Google Assistant instead.
  25. Derekeys macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2012
    Philadelphia, PA
    I'm excited to add this to my automated workflows. That being said, I believe this pales in comparison with Ifttt and Stringify. Using siri will be great, I'm not knocking this next step, but I believe the best kind of automation is based on much more consistent and invisible triggers such as location, date/time, and weather. Hopefully those kind of triggers will be added down the road.

    In the meantime, I sure do hope Apple opens up Siri to music apps such as spotify to play. "Hey Siri, play Muse playlist on Spotify"

    One can dream :)
  26. chucker23n1 macrumors 68000


    Dec 7, 2014

    Well, Workflow was that. Shortcuts adds several twists, such as proactively suggesting common tasks based on usage patterns, and integration with Siri.

    That sounds like something Apple should eventually add, yes.

    One of the things I sorely miss from classic macOS is the notion of location profiles, and being able to attach a bunch of settings to them. We might eventually get this back if/when Shortcuts gains the ability to react to a location change.

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