The Siri Shortcuts feature that Apple launched last fall as part of iOS 12 has always had oodles of potential. And for some of you this feature, which lets you use your voice to automate a string of tasks or routines, may have just gotten a whole lot more useful.
On Thursday, Apple announced a fresh set of integrated Siri Shortcuts, which are just now available or coming soon, and which the company says joins the thousands of other apps that already take advantage of the feature. American Airlines and Airbnb join existing app partners such as Marriott’s Bonvoy, Pandora, Waze and The Weather Channel.
The basic idea behind the Shortcuts feature is that Siri can learn your app preferences and routines over a period of time to suggest shortcuts that can streamline tasks or commands on your iPhone or iPad, and in more limited instances on the Apple Watch, HomePod or AirPods. (The feature doesn’t work with Macs or on Apple TV, despite Siri’s presence on the hardware.)
Shortcuts work with the apps you already have on your devices. Some suggested shortcuts will appear automatically on the lock screen of your device or when you do a search, recommending, right then and there, for example, to call or message your spouse. You tap the button to activate the particular shortcut that shows up. You can initiate other shortcuts yourself by uttering a short designated phrase out loud.
What’s more, though fewer of you are likely to do so, you can also fetch the Apple Shortcuts app for free in the App Store and create your own custom shortcuts built around a personalized voice phrase you record.
Apple is seeking ways to make Siri more helpful, especially in light of the fact that many pundits believe that its digital assistant lags Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant, both of which also let you create customized routines via voice, often through Echo or Google Home smart speakers.
Samsung has similar designs with the Quick Commands feature associated with its Bixby assistant.
Among the newly announced Siri Shortcuts is one from American Airlines that will let you summon flight updates by voice (“Hey Siri, flight update”). Such updates are contextual: Before leaving your house, you can get the drive time to the airport along with a map. After checking in, you’ll receive an updated flight status with a map of the terminal showing the gate location, walking time to that gate and boarding time.
Another new shortcut, from Merriam Webster Dictionary, will let you ask Siri for the word of the day.
A third new shortcut, from the Caviar local food delivery app, responds to commands such as “Hey Siri, order my usual pizza” or “Hey Siri, Caviar order status.”
Some of the Apple shortcuts integrate with some of your connected smart home appliances For example, shortcuts tied to the Drop and Smarter apps will let you control coffee makers by voice.
Others shortcuts are meant to work with health devices you may use in conjunction with the iPhone. The Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring System, for example, launched a shortcut that enables diabetics better manage glucose levels through their app (“Hey Siri, what’s my blood glucose?”).
Coming soon is a shortcut for ReSound hearing aids that will enable a person who is hard of hearing change the device settings, depending on the environment (“Hey Siri, restaurant mode.”)
Building your own shortcuts
To see which of your favorite apps have shortcut integrations, on your iPhone, visit Settings > Siri & Search > All Shortcuts.
To build your own shortcut, launch the Shortcuts app, and choose actions or building blocks, which are each of the basic steps that will make up your app. Apple presents a number of suggestions inside the app. For example, if you want to add a shortcut called Log Workout in conjunction with the Health app on your phone, you’d choose the type of activity (running, swimming, etc.), the duration, the calories burned or distance. You can then record the personalized phrase that would tell Siri to run the shortcut.
Inside the app you’ll also find a Gallery of premade Shortcuts that you might take advantage of. Among the Morning Routine options, you’ll see, are shortcuts that let you know when to leave home so you won’t be late for work, as well as a brushing teeth timer that will make you sure you’re at it for a full two minutes.
Since shortcuts can be shared, you might want to pass that one along to your kids.
Email: email@example.com. Tweet @edbaig to share your most creative shortcuts
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