iOS

The Best iOS Feature You’re Not Using

I’ve been using Siri Shortcuts back when it was called Workflow and even though it is an amazing app, I feel it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. So, let’s change that today.

For the unknown, Siri shortcut is a new feature in iOS 12, that lets you automate simple tasks on your iOS devices. For example, you can say “Hey Siri, turn on the night mode” to turn the screen brightness all the way down, turn on the alarm for next day and disable WiFi, etc. Now, this is just one small example, there a lot to it. So, if you are not using Siri shortcuts, here are five reasons, why you should.

Reasons to use Siri Shortcuts

1. A Silver Lining in the Closed Ecosystem

I’m sure you must also know how restrictive can Apple’s Ecosystem be sometimes. Coming from Android, I was surprised to see that you couldn’t just download videos on the iPhone. However, you can change that with the help of Siri shortcut. One example is the SMD shortcut, you can download any video from Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube and save the files on your Camera Roll. This is just the tip of the iceberg and you can do so much more than this on the iPhone. For example, you can automate tasks as simple as creating a GIF from photos or as comprehensive as tweeting a video automatically when you get pulled over by police

2. Improved Efficiency

Doing repetitive tasks is the most boring part of my day and Siri Shortcuts makes it so much easier. Let me give you an example, instead of pulling up the directions to work every day then connecting the Phone to CarPlay and start the playlist, I can just run a shortcut to do that every time I get ready to go to work.

The point is, while you can do all these tasks the usual way, Siri Shortcuts makes it more efficient.

3. Security

Another reason to use Siri Shortcuts is security. As we say it in the comics, with great powers, comes great responsibility. Apple removed the option to submit the Shortcuts to the Gallery so that no malicious shortcuts reach the users. On iOS13 you can’t even accidentally download a Shortcut on the App unless you manually turn off the security feature that prevents the installation of third-party shortcuts. Good job, Apple. You can still download third-party shortcuts after turning off the security feature in the Settings and install using the iCloud link. Even after that, you’d get a warning “Add Untrusted Shortcut?” in the app.

4. Automation in Shortcuts

The next major update for iPhone — iOS13 brings Automation to the app which allows you to trigger certain actions based on events. For example, An automation would automatically pull up directions to your home whenever you connect to CarPlay. This is a basic example but you can create comprehensive automation with it as well.

Not just that, you can create triggers for real-world objects like smart lights, speakers, etc in the home automation section. The cherry on the cake is the Apple Watch integration, you can do all sorts of cool things with the Apple Watch and Siri Shortcuts. Now, This is something I look forward to when iOS13 hits the shelves in September with the next iPhone.

5. Endless Possibilities

Apple keeps on adding new features to the Shortcuts app that makes the app more customizable than ever. You can create a number of shortcuts using the in-built actions which will make your life better. Now that I think of it, Shortcuts reminds me of a similar service IFTTT which triggers an action based on an event. Shortcuts implement it a little differently and the user an option to trigger multiple events from a single action.

I have made a list of 20 Shortcuts that every iOS user should try but here are some of my favorites.

Dark Mode– Browsing the internet at night is a nightmare when the websites don’t have a night mode built-in. Fortunately, you can run this shortcut on a webpage in Safari and turn the webpage dark, instantly. Neat.

Water Eject– While the Apple Watch comes with an inbuilt water ejection system built right in the OS, there is no direct way to remove the water from the iPhone X, Xs, and Xs Max, even though they’re IP68 water-resistant. This nifty shortcut comes in handy and automatically spits out water from your iPhone’s speaker.

Start a Thread– If you use WhatsApp, then you know how tedious it is to send a message to a person who is not in your contacts list. With this shortcut, you can simply run this shortcut and enter the number to start a WhatsApp thread without saving their contact. Cool right?

Apart from important shortcuts, you can create fun shortcuts that don’t do anything spectacular. For example, this shortcut just gives you the pronunciation of GIF to settle the debate once and for all with your friends. This shortcut just toggles the flashlight when you say Lumos to Siri, brings out the Wizard in me.

Closing Words

I’ll admit that creating your own shortcuts can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the concepts of scripting and programming. However, if you just spent some time casually browsing the app, I’m sure you’ll figure most of the features out. There is a huge community of passionate people on Reddit who share their shortcuts every day. You can subscribe to the subreddit by clicking this link. What do you think of Shortcuts app? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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