Tapping open Apple’s new Shortcuts app for the first time is like being a painter staring at a blank canvas: daunting. The app introduced with iOS 12 lets users automate a series of tasks to create their own Siri commands. But because the feature is so customizable, it can also be a little difficult to figure out where to start.
To browse what’s out there, select the Gallery menu at the bottom right corner of the screen which will bring up some examples. Want to make a GIF or log how much coffee you’re drinking every day by just asking Siri? There’s a shortcut for that. Scroll through the gallery if you just want to peruse or use the search bar at the top to look for a specific command.
When you find one you like, give it a tap to add it to your Library. Click the three dots at the top right corner of any command to get a breakdown of every step the shortcut carries when you run it. This is how every command will look like, even the most complex ones.
iOS 12 Shortcuts: What’s Possible
Another place to search for inspiration is Reddit, where the Shortcuts subreddit has quickly amassed more than 31,000 subscribers.
One redditor created two commands to toggle on their flashlight, and named them Lumos and Nox — the spells in the Harry Potter universe that light up and turn off the characters’ wands. Another user created a “jam-packed morning shortcut” that has Siri tell him the weather, the morning news, up-coming events, and much more.
Reddit-users have even discovered how to make Siri do things weren’t possible before iOS 12, like count down the days until the debut of Infinity War Part 2. And who can forget “sexy time” mode? That shortcut will set the mood by turning on Do Not Disturb, dimming you room lights using HomeKit, and begin playing romantic music. You can pretty much turn Siri into a wing-woman, but creating these shortcuts requires a mix of creativity and experimentation.
iOS 12 Shortcuts: How to Make Your Own Shortcuts
Once you get a sense of what’s possible, it gets easier to think about incorporate shortcuts into your own routine. Most of the major functions are easy to automate: Message, Twitter, Apple Music, Apple Pay, and a host of other apps can be programmed into Siri Commands.
To give it a spin, I tried to program my own “Taking Off” command for my next vacation. This will start by switching my phone to Airplane Mode, then activate Low Battery Mode, and finally turn on Do Not Disturb.
Search for all three steps using the steps menu, add them to the shortcut and make sure all of them are turned on. Then tap the settings icon directly below the Done button to name the command and set up your Siri voice command. Now you can save yourself three taps before your next flight by simply telling Siri that you’re “Taking off.”
If you ever completely botch a shortcut, navigate to Library and hold it down, then tap the trash bin that will appear on the top right corner of the screen. You’ll get them next time.
iOS 12 Shortcuts: The Future of Shortcuts
Shortcuts is a bigger leap for Apple than it seems at first glance, since it frees the A.I. from relying on pre-programmed voice commands. Users can now mold Apple’s signature voice assistant to their own needs to make it more than a glorified weather bot. However, its potential is hard to see due to its limitlessness.