What is Apple Shortcuts and How it Works: Beginner's Guide
Apple's Shortcuts app is a powerful and versatile task automation tool that allows users to create custom workflows to perform a wide variety of tasks on their iOS devices and Apple Watch. This app is based on Workflow technology, a standalone app acquired by Apple in 2017 and subsequently integrated into the Shortcuts app.
In this article, we'll delve into how Shortcuts works on Apple devices and how it builds on Workflow to deliver an unparalleled task automation experience.
Creating custom workflows
The Shortcuts app allows users to create custom workflows to automate specific tasks on their devices. These workflows are composed of a series of individual actions that are executed sequentially to achieve a specific result. Actions can range from the simplest tasks, such as opening an application or sending a text message, to more complex tasks, such as downloading and manipulating files or performing advanced mathematical operations.
To create a workflow in Shortcuts, the user must open the application and select "Create workflow". They can then add individual actions to the workflow from a wide selection of available options, including predefined actions built into the application as well as custom actions created by the user.
Once all necessary actions have been added, the user can save the workflow and give it a custom name for easy identification later in the workflow library.
Once a workflow has been created in Shortcuts, it can be easily executed by tapping the corresponding icon in the workflow library. When the workflow is executed, the user's iOS device will follow the instructions for each action in the workflow to achieve the desired result.
For example, if the workflow includes actions to send a text message and post to social media, the user's iOS device will perform these tasks automatically when running the workflow. This can save the user time and effort by avoiding the need to perform these tasks manually.
Integration with Siri
One of the most interesting features of Shortcuts is its integration with Siri, Apple's virtual assistant. This integration allows users to execute specific workflows simply by talking to their iOS device.
To use this feature, the user must create a workflow and then assign it a specific name. They can then activate the Siri integration for that workflow by saying "Hey Siri, [workflow name]." Once Siri integration has been enabled, the user's iOS device will automatically run the workflow corresponding to the specific name.
Integration with other applications
One of the most powerful features of Shortcuts is its ability to integrate with other apps on the user's iOS device. This means that workflows can leverage the functionality of other apps to achieve more advanced and comprehensive results.
For example, a workflow can use the camera on an iOS device to take a photograph, use an editing app to retouch the image and then share it on social media or send it via email. This is accomplished by using specific camera and photo editing app actions in the workflow.
Shortcuts also allows users to create workflows that interact with third-party applications, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. These workflows can be used to download and upload files to and from these applications automatically, which can save time and effort for the user.
Examples of workflows in Shortcuts
The versatility of Shortcuts means that users can create workflows for virtually any task imaginable. Here are some examples of common workflows created in Shortcuts:
Turn on home light with Siri: With this workflow, the user can use Siri to turn on the lights in their home using HomeKit-compatible devices. The workflow uses actions from Apple's Home app to send a signal to HomeKit-compatible devices and turn on the lights in the house.
Convert Currencies: This workflow uses an API to get currency exchange rates and convert a specific amount from one currency to another. The user simply enters the amount and the source and target currencies, and the workflow performs the calculation automatically.
Schedule a social media post: With this workflow, the user can create a social media post and schedule its publication for a specific date and time in the future. The workflow uses actions from the corresponding social media application to create the post and the Apple Calendar application to schedule its publication.
Send a custom text message: This workflow allows the user to create a custom text message and send it to a specific recipient. The workflow uses the Apple Messages app to send the text message and the Apple Contacts app to select the recipient.
Shortcuts is a very powerful and versatile task automation tool that offers a lot of benefits to users of iOS devices and Apple Watch. This app is based on Workflow technology, which means that you can create custom workflows that allow them to automate specific tasks on their devices.
Shortcuts' ability to integrate with other apps, its integration with Siri and its wide selection of individual actions make it a valuable tool for Apple device users. With its ability to save the user time and effort, Shortcuts is a must-have tool for anyone who wants to get the most out of their iOS device or Apple Watch.