At last year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, iOS 12 brought one of the most important updates to iOS devices, and that’s Siri Shortcuts. This app has completely changed the way iPhone users use their device from a productivity standpoint. They’ll be able to get things done easier and faster. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what Siri Shortcuts is and how to use this app.
What’s Siri Shortcuts?
Shortcuts, previously called Workflow before it was acquired by Apple back in 2017, is an automation platform that controls processes within iOS and apps. It allows iOS and iPadOS device users to quickly get complicated things done with their apps with just a tap or by asking Siri. You can either create your own Shortcuts or use pre-made ones by Apple in the Gallery that best suit your needs.
Each simple task that the app performs is an “action” such as setting up a timer or the calendar. The real power of Shortcuts lies in the ability to configure multiple actions to run in sequence to perform advanced and complicated tasks.
However, average users may not appreciate the value of the app-based automation because they can do almost everything on their phone in just one or a few taps. At first, some people may even find it too cumbersome and complicated to create a custom shortcut, therefore would prefer not to use it altogether. It’s a lot simpler and easier to use once you get the hang of it.
How to use Siri Shortcuts
Despite Apple’s effort to make Siri more useful and competitive against other popular digital assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, you don’t necessarily have to talk to Siri to run any Shortcut. But the main point was to use it with Siri, it’s even called Siri Shortcuts. Here are a few ways how you can use them.
You can access your Shortcuts from Siri app suggestions. Enter the name of your Shortcut or start typing, and it will show up there. Just tap on it to run it.
If you’ve enabled the automation app in Widgets via the Settings app, it will show up there along with other apps. You can press the “Show More” button in case all your Shortcuts don’t show up.
You can also use them from the Share Sheet, if it’s not there you’ll have to enable it. Swipe to the left until you find the “More” button, tap on it, then look for Shortcuts from the list and activate it.
Obviously you can run your Shortcuts inside of the Shortcuts app where they live.
You can also add your favorite Shortcut to the Home screen for better accessibility.
Now that you have a better understanding of what Shortcuts are all about and how to run them, let’s create your first one.
How to create a Siri Shortcut
For the purpose of this guide, we are going to create a simple Shortcut that you could use to check how many days are left before a special event such as your birthday or a holiday. How about Thanksgiving? That sounds like a plan. Let’s get into it.
Step 1 – Open the Siri Shortcuts app and head to the Library tab. Press Create Shortcut at the bottom, or the “+” sign at the top right corner of the screen.
Step 2 – Scroll down to add your first action. From the search bar, search for “Date” and make sure to select “Current Date”. Then, we are going to format the date to make it easy to read. Feel free to set it to your liking but for now, we’re going to pick a short date and time format.
Step 3 – After that, we need to set this date as a variable, so we can set its value to the input of this action. We’ll call it “Today”, but you can name it whatever you want.
Step 4 – Now we’ll add the date that we want to know how many days are left until.
From the search bar look for Date, and this time we’ll select “Specified Date”, which is Thursday, November 28, 2019. Again, we’ll set the date to a short format.
Step 5 – For our variable let’s call it “Thanksgiving”.
Step 6 – Now we want to know how much time is there between these two dates. On the bottom half of the screen from the Calendar category, select “Get Time Between Dates” and set it in “Days”.
Step 7 – The last thing we need to do is to set up an alert when we run the Shortcut. Search for Alert and select “Show Alert”. From there, you can set the title to Countdown to Thanksgiving.
Our alert will say something like: There are “Time Between Dates” days until Thanksgiving. You can uncheck the “Show Cancel Button at the bottom”, it’s not necessary.
Before you hit done, give it a name to make it easy to identify in case you have multiple Shortcuts in your Library.
Now that you’ve created your first Shortcut, go ahead and create your own. In the meantime, enjoy this helpful Shortcut we’ve created to help manage iPhone battery life more efficiently.
Smart Battery Manager
There’s nothing more terrifying than having your iPhone running out of battery, and even worse if you don’t have a portable battery charger. With this “Smart Battery Manager” Shortcut, you can save iPhone battery life efficiently while you continue to use your phone. This Shortcut uses various tips from our iPhone battery tips guide, make sure to check it out for full coverage.