Since July 5th, developers can request access to the beta version of the new Shortcuts app that will be released during fall this year, pretty much at the same time as iOS12.
The Shortcuts app, largely inspired by Workflow, enables users to perform some tasks without launching any apps through voice-command or a widget. Users will even be able to create multi-step shortcuts even with third party apps. For example, by simply saying «coming home», Siri will launch your itinerary from Google Maps, start your music from Spotify, share your position with your family though iMessage, and so much more. The only requirement is to set everything up before and to link it to Siri.
There are two ways of working with shortcuts: either automatically (depending on your usage and the more common and repeated tasks, iOS will ask you if you want to turn that action into a Shortcut) or manually. The way of working is simple and works pretty much like any standard Workflow. The difference is that you can pre-record a personalized phrase to trigger this particular Shortcut.
About the app itself, it’s divided in two sections: the Library where you can find all the shortcuts that you have installed and the Gallery, with pre-set actions that users can install and customize with endless possibilities. Apple’s goal is for users to set up shortcuts that will be useful for them and that will be fully integrated in theirs daily lives. You can even choose the icons and the picture of the app.
Despite the system is very flexible and powerful, it’s still not clear how many interactions it will be able to pick automatically nor how well projected is it towards users needs and uses. It will have to be seen with time.
From what we have seen so far, we have reservations about two points:
- Before using it properly, users will have to dedicate quite some time to set up all shortcuts
- When you command a shortcut, it can be disappointing when it opens the Shortcuts app and not directly the third-party app like logic would imply.
In the near future, we can even go further by connecting IFTTT to your smart home and adapt your whole environment to a given situation.