Who wouldn’t like to get more done in less time?
That’s the idea behind Siri Shortcuts, a popular Apple app for iPhone and iPad, and built into the upcoming iOS 13 operating system, out in beta release now with a full upgrade due this fall soon after new iPhones hit in September.
As the name suggests, Siri Shortcuts link the voice-controlled personal assistant you already know with time-saving shortcuts for tasks you want to perform. By simply asking for it – or tapping the screen if you’re not in a place to freely use your voice – your iPhone or iPad can quickly heed your request.
In other words, Siri Shortcuts – previously known as Workflow – fuses small actions to yield big results.
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Siri Shortcuts ready for you to try
While you can create your own shortcuts, there are many built-in ones to try.
In fact, Siri Shortcuts include more than 300 actions that leverage your favorite integrated apps – Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Maps, Safari, Photos, Camera, Music, and Health – as well as third-party apps such as Waze, Amazon Prime Video and Grocery.
Here’s a few sample shortcuts:
•“Heading to Work”: Once you hop into your car and are on your way, say “Heading to work” to get your estimated time of arrival (ETA), hear about your first calendar event, start an Apple Music playlist, and get directions that take real-time traffic into account.
•“Police”: If you see the flashing red lights in your rearview mirror, say “Siri, I’m getting pulled over.” This dims your iPhone screen, enables the front-facing camera, starts recording a video, and then sends it to a specific person in your Contacts.
•“What is the bill?”: Enjoyed your time at a restaurant with friends or family? Too full to figure out a good tip? After you say “What is the bill?”, type in an amount and then tap on a tip option – such as 12%, 15%, 18% or 20% – and you’ll immediately see the tip along with the total bill amount.
•“Directions Home”: No matter where you are, says “Directions home” to get driving directions back home, with your choice of maps app, and start listening to the news or your favorite music playlist. You can also choose to send someone your ETA each time.
•“Keep me alive”: While it might sound like the name of a horror movie, this handy Siri shortcut turns off several phone features to help you survive a low battery. It turns on airplane mode, lowers the screen brightness, enables low power mode, stops music playback, and more.
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In fact, Siri learns the apps you use –and when you use them – to suggest shortcuts you can summon the next time. If you order coffee every day with the same app, for example, Siri might suggest your favorite beverage before you even select it.
If you’re late for a meeting because you’re not at that location yet, Siri could suggest you send a text to say you’re a few minutes behind.
You get the idea. Smart, no? You can turn off Siri Shortcut suggestions if you don’t like this feature (Settings>Siri & Search>Shortcuts>Suggest Shortcuts).
How to get started with Siri Shortcuts
Unless you’re already running iOS 13, which has Siri Shortcuts baked into the operating system, those who want to use Siri Shortcuts must install the official app, available for free in the App Store.
To find useful shortcuts, I would start with the Gallery inside of the official app. Open the Shortcuts app and tap Gallery on the bottom right. Swipe up or down to see categories. Tap See All to see more shortcuts in a category. To add a shortcut, tap it, then tap Get Shortcut.
To add your own Siri shortcut, go to Settings>Siri & Search>Shortcuts, and then tap the “+” sign. To record a personal phrase, tap the red record button and say a simple phrase you’ll remember. Tap Done.
You may also be able to create a Shortcut within your favorite third-party (non-Apple) apps. Open your app and look for the Add to Siri button, which you can tap to add with your own personal phrase. Tap Done when finished.
Launching your shortcuts
Once Siri Shortcuts is installed, there are a few ways you can initiate them:
•Simply say “Hey Siri, (name of Siri shortcut)” and it should perform all the actions for you.
•If you prefer, tap the Siri shortcut on the Lock screen or swipe down from the center of your screen to show Search, and then tap the Siri Suggestion.
•Shortcuts can also be initiated from the Today widget, which you can access by swiping right over the Home screen or Lock screen.
•You can add an app icon to your home screen for your favorite Siri Shortcuts by tapping Add to Home Screen after creating a shortcut.
•Along with iPhone and iPad, you can also run Siri Shortcuts on iPod touch, Apple Watch, and HomePod. Just sign into iCloud with the same Apple ID on each device. To use shortcuts on HomePod, your iOS device also needs to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as HomePod.
USA TODAY readers, what are some of your favorite Siri Shortcuts to use? Tell us in the Comments section or on social media.
Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at www.marcsaltzman.com.