Siri Shortcuts add a layer of functionality to Apple's digital assistant, and it could be a huge boon for business users.
Since the release in 2018 of Siri Shortcuts, they have made Apple's digital assistant much more useful than it was before.
Shortcuts are quick actions and suggestions that Siri will provide and that users can build themselves, but Shortcuts go beyond IFTTT-like call-and-response commands. Shortcuts uses connected email accounts, calendars, social media, and other apps that keep track of your life to predict messages you may want to send and what apps you're likely to use, and to predict other ways you may want to use your device based on what it knows about you.
Google Assistant has been able to perform similar tasks for quite some time, so the arrival of these features on iOS are sure to excite Apple users--especially those who use Apple devices for work.
So, what can you do with Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12 to streamline your workday? Here are just a few possibilities.
SEE: Get more done with your iPhone: Tips and tricks for power users (free PDF)(TechRepublic)
1: Stay in touch more easily
Siri Shortcuts come in two forms: One are built-in ways that Siri Suggestions learns about your life and suggests actions on your device, and the other are custom-made workflows. Both can make staying in touch easier, but Siri Suggestions are where that ability shines.
Siri Suggestions uses lots of data about you--your emails, calendar appointments, device use routine, social media, for example--to build a profile of your routine. Siri will make suggestions based on what you may need to do, and a lot of it is communicative.
Say you're late for a meeting--Siri Suggestions would prompt you with a Shortcut that says you should text fellow attendees to let them know. It could also remind you to call your mother on her birthday, or prompt you to order a coffee if it's part of your routine.
2: Never miss a thing
Shortcuts do more than help you stay in touch--they also keep you on track throughout the day. If you usually do something at a particular time, Siri Suggestions will learn it and give you a nudge that you might not want to forget about that part of your day.
If you're leaving for work in the morning, a Shortcut could give you a Calendar briefing, play the news, turn on the lights in your office, and more. If you're already living an IoT-connected life Shortcuts could make your life super smooth.
3: Shortcut the third-party apps you use most
Siri was never one to integrate with third-party apps, but that changed in iOS 12 with the introduction of Shortcuts.
A Shortcuts app will be included in iOS 12 that allows users to create their own if, then workflows and assign them a Siri Shortcut. Third-party apps that provide content like weather, news, maps, and other quickly digestible information can be given a short verbal cue, making them more useful than ever.
Third-party app support won't be coming until later, Apple said, so for now it's just Apple apps you can create custom commands for.
SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)
4: Connect in the car
For those with a vehicle that has Apple CarPlay, Shortcuts will be fantastic. Connecting to CarPlay can be part of a custom Shortcut.
Just imagine jumping into your car, telling Siri you're going to work, and having the stereo play exactly what you want, bring up navigation, and send a text message without pushing a button.
5: Get more use out of the iOS search bar
I don't know about you, but one of my most frequent actions on my iPhone is swiping down to open the search bar. I see that screen a lot, and it would be great if it contained other relevant info to my day.
Shortcuts is adding that, making the search bar more of a landing page than simply an area to ask questions of Google. Actions relevant to your day will appear on the search bar (provided you're using Apple Suggestions), and all you'll have to do is tap them to complete an action, like confirming a doctor's appointment, buying a coffee, or sending a text message.
If iOS users use the search bar as much as Apple seems to want them to, it could turn into a new landing page for the iOS user experience.
SEE: The 10 best smartphones you can buy right now (ZDNet)
Don't forget about the Siri Shortcuts Gallery
For those who don't want to create their own shortcuts, Apple has included a gallery of pre-built Siri Shortcuts to the Shortcuts app.
When you open the Shortcuts app, you'll see two options at the bottom: Library, for your existing Shortcuts, and Gallery, where you can find new ones that Apple has built.
The Gallery is broken down into a whole bunch of categories that you can scroll through to find shortcuts, like essentials, morning routine, read it later, shortcuts for around the house, Evernote-specific shortcuts, shortcuts to make using the iOS clipboard easier, and more.
Even better, when you tap on a shortcut to install it, you can optionally see how it's built by tapping Show Actions. It's a great way to get a crash course in building your own Shortcuts that are more detailed than simply call and response actions.
Editor's note: This article was first published in June 2018. It was updated in April 2019 to include information about the Siri Shortcuts Gallery.
- How to become an iOS developer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- How to create workflows in Apple's Shortcuts app that use Notes (TechRepublic)
- Apple macOS Mojave: Cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Boost your Mac productivity with these 10 techniques (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy (Tech Pro Research)
- Best mobile VPN services for 2019 (CNET)
- The 10 most important iPhone apps of all time (Download.com)
- Smartphones and mobile tech: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)