iOS Shortcuts, September 2018

Shortcuts launched this month, but it doesn’t come with iOS 12 or new phones. You have to decide to download it, which means it’s not going to be as popular as other new and more obvious iOS 12 features. But Shortcuts is the reason to be on iOS 12, and its the most interesting feature set to come to the iPhone in years.

Shortcuts lets you build little instruction sets, and assign them to a single tap (either in the app, on your home screen, or in your widgets menu), or to a Siri command. They can be dumb simple, like my Indoors & Outdoors commands, which just sets the volume to levels I find comfortable for the context. Or they can be more complicated, like an entire morning routine that turns on all your dinguses.

If you’re on an iPhone and have Shortcuts installed, clicking on any link in this post will take you to the Shortcut, which you can install and use.

Here are the Shortcuts I’m using this month:

  • Play Overcast: Simply begins playing Overcast where I last left it, no matter how long the app has been closed. You have to have Overcast installed to use it.

  • Copy to Drafts: Copies whatever is in my clipboard to a blank Draft. You have to have Drafts installed to use it.

  • Spotify Shortcut setup: Spotify doesn’t have Shortcuts support yet, but this method that I found on Reddit is still very useful. You have to do some copying/pasting during the setup, but this Shortcut will build several other shortcuts, allowing you to begin playing Spotify on the last song you played, add currently playing song to favorites, and skip the playing track. You have to have Spotify installed to use it.

If these sound boring, it’s because all they do is take a few taps and swipes and simplify them into a single tap. I think that kind of thing is what computer progress is mostly about, though. As time goes on and people build on one another’s ideas, Shortcuts will become more interesting. It might just give us the Jetsons future our Grandparents thought we’d have by now.


September 19, 2018