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What's new in shortcuts in iOS 13 «iOS & iPhone :: Gadgethacks

When Apple acquired the popular Workflow app in 2017, many feared that it would be replaced by something much worse, or simply disappear altogether. Fortunately, Apple has relieved these concerns with the launch of shortcuts. In iOS 13, Shortcuts becomes more powerful than ever and offers functionality on the iPhone that the original Workflow team could only dream of.

In iOS 13, the Shortcuts app is now fully integrated into the system. As a built-in app, shortcuts can be much more than any third-party app. It can now create automations that can be triggered by things like the time of day, location, NFC tags, and even when settings such as Do Not Disturb and Airplane Mode are enabled.

Individual shortcuts are also more powerful and can now offer a secure, private method for apps to pass data between themselves. The Shortcuts editor has also received a major update, with each action now configured with descriptive sentences instead of a list of variables. All these changes together help to make shortcuts more powerful, intuitive and approachable than ever before.

# 1
: Siri and custom shortcuts finally

In iOS 12, shortcuts were generally divided into two different types: [19659006] Siri shortcuts: These were created in separate apps or in the & # section. 39; Siri and search & # 39; in Settings. They were made from one app-specific action and could not receive additional data when they were performed. You can also assign a custom sentence that can be used to make Siri run them.

  • Custom shortcuts: These were created in the shortcut app and can contain multiple actions that have been merged to perform different functions. These actions can be a built-in shortcut action or an action that was donated by a third-party app via a Siri shortcut.
  • In iOS 13, the distinction between Siri and custom shortcuts has disappeared. Both types now live together in the Quick Links app. Previously created Siri shortcuts, as well as every new shortcut made from a single action of an app, are distinguished from the app icon on the shortcut.

    In addition, while you actually had to speak to make a custom sentence for Siri to perform a shortcut, in iOS 13 you can type your custom phase in the & # 39; If I say & # 39; of the screen & # 39; Add to Siri & # 39 ;. Siri can also perform custom shortcuts that you have built, simply by saying the name of the shortcut.

    Add to Siri in iOS 12 (center) and iOS 13 (right)

    # 2: Renewed shortcut editor

    The biggest change in the shortcut editor is how data is provided for each action. In iOS 12, each promotion would have a list of items to which data can be assigned. In iOS 13, promotions are generally presented as sentences that describe the primary purpose of the promotion with assignable parts that are highlighted in blue.

    This helps to describe exactly what an action in ordinary English will do. For example, the "Add to Calendar" action in iOS 12 consisted of a list of different things to fill in. IOS 13 simplifies it into a single sentence that describes what needs to be added and at what time. The extra details are then hidden in the "View More" section of the promotion.

    Add to Calendar action in iOS 12 (left) and iOS 13 (right)

    The Shortcuts app also offers more promotions to use, both from the built-in system apps as well as promotions for scripting and running web query & # 39; s. Conditional blocks, such as the "If" block, now have a number of conditions to decide whether the block is executed. The conditions are also dynamic based on what the entry for the block is. For example, if a number is passed, conditions such as "greater than" or "less than" are presented. However, when text is passed on, the options change to things like "longer than" or "shorter than".

    Conditional options for numbers (left) and text (right)

    Finally, shortcuts from specific apps are in placed their own category instead of across categories as in iOS 12. Simply tap on the "Apps" category and app with shortcuts, both built-in and third-party, is shown as an option.

    # 3: New promotions [19659005] Shortcuts has a host of new promotions in iOS 13. These include: [19659024] Apple TV Remote: Shortcuts can now sleep / wake Apple TV, play / pause media, and open apps on an Apple TV.
  • Set the playback destination: AirPlay devices, such as speakers and TVs, can now be set as destinations via shortcuts before media is played on your device.
  • HomeKit: HomeKit devices can now be operated separately and shortcuts can also get their current status, which can then be entered into a conditional block.
  • Podcasts: Shortcuts can now operate the built-in Podcasts app, and search for and subscribe to new podcasts.
  • Dark mode: The system-wide dark mode can now be switched on and off.
  • Email: Emails can now be written and sent directly from a shortcut via the built-in Mail app.
  • # 4: Third-party app promotions

    Third-party apps promotions also become much more powerful. In iOS 12, app actions could not change based on different inputs. Each action had to be configured with all the data needed before it was performed. This meant that something like a weather app action should have three different shortcuts to bid for again at three different locations.

    In addition, third-party actions could not provide data for later use in the shortcut. With iOS 13, these actions can now provide input for later steps, so that apps can finally work together in a safe, secure and supported way.

    Third-party actions can now both receive (left) and provide (right) data to and from other actions in a shortcut

    # 5: Ask When Run with Siri

    Parameters in actions can now be set "Ask every time." When a shortcut with this option is performed from Siri, Siri asks for more information before continuing the shortcut. This allows you to create a single weather shortcut that asks for what location you are asking for, instead of having to create separate shortcuts for each location that you may be interested in.

    This also works for shortcuts for which you have to choose from a list of options. For example, you can create a shortcut for a tasks app that allows you to select which list to add the item to.

    All of these actions are performed with voice via Siri, so that they can even be performed on devices such as the HomePod, or when you cannot interact with the screen of your iPhone.

    With the addition of inputs and outputs for the app actions, Shortcuts has created a secure way for different apps to transfer data pass back and forth. Combined with the new script blocks, the new actions for built-in apps and the ability to provide specific information when the shortcut runs, Shortcuts allows you to create everything from simple tools to help in your daily life to complex multi-step shortcuts to tasks to be carried out with the push of a button.

    # 6: New options for personal automation

    When Shortcuts were first started, one thing was immediately clear: the need for shortcuts. In iOS 13, Shortcuts is given the option to run automatically based on different triggers. Some automations can be set to run on an Apple TV or HomePod even if you are not there.

    Personal automations in particular (automations running on the device on which they are set) can be triggered by one of the following events:

    • Time of day
    • When an alarm goes off
    • When you arrive or a leave location
    • When settings such as Airplane mode or Do not disturb are enabled
    • When connecting to a specific Wi-Fi network
    • When a Bluetooth device is connected
    • When an app is opened
    • When an NFC tag is scanned
    • When a workout is started on an Apple Watch

    When one of these circumstances occurs, an automation is triggered. Each automation can perform a new set of actions or simply recall other shortcuts that you have already built.

    Using automation, you can set your iPhone to turn on the lights, play some music in the living room, and turn on Do No Disturb when you come home in the evening. Or you can make an automation to show you your calendar and the weather forecast for the day when your morning alarm goes off. With a little creativity and the new promotions in Quick Couplings, the possibilities for automation are enormous.

    # 7: New options for home automation

    Home automation is similar to personal automation, but with some limitations. Because these automations run on HomeKit hubs (Apple TV & # 39; s, iPads or HomePods), they must be able to work completely independently without interaction. This imposes a limit on which shortcut actions are available to use, and only a subset will be available when setting up a Home Automation.

    When setting a Home Automation, it will initially look like setting an automation in the Home app. However, when you select which devices you want to control, there is a new "Convert to Shortcut" option that gives you a few more options. Here you can use the script actions for shortcuts, along with a subset of location, document, and web actions.

    An advantage of Home Automations is that they can take into account several people in your house. This allows different things to happen based on who comes home or leaves, or who is or is not at home. With the current limitations on Home Automations, many of them will tend to focus on smart home devices. Hopefully, Apple will add more options to them in the future to help extend Home Automations to more domains outside of smart homes.

    With Automations, Shortcuts is given the option to get things done without having to ask first. It's early days for automation on iOS, but there are already many possibilities with the updates for shortcuts in iOS 13.

    # 8: Minor Tweaks to Gallery

    The Gallery has not changed too much since iOS 12. It is still a great place to browse shortcuts that others have created and add them to your collection. The only change that iOS 13 brings is the new & # 39; shortcuts section of your apps & # 39 ;. This was previously buried in the Settings app in iOS 12 and is now much easier to find in the gallery.

    "Shortcuts from your apps" compiles a list of suggested shortcuts based on your activity. This includes built-in apps such as Messages, Mail, Reminders and Safari, as well as third-party apps that donate their own shortcuts.

    The introduction of shortcuts as a standard app in iOS 12 seemed to signal an attempt to make automation easier and more accessible . The changes in iOS 13 go a long way to continue this trend. Redesigning actions to use phrases with parameters makes clear what each action does, and organizing the actions per app makes it much easier to find what you are looking for.

    Automation starts well and can help you make your day a little easier. With more third-party support, shortcuts can become a powerful tool to link all apps on your iPhone and to make things run smoothly, such as asking Siri.

    Cover image, screenshots and GIFs by Mike Goril / Gadget hacks

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