The best automation is the one you have with you, and that means Shortcuts for iPhone is the greatest opportunity for people to take advantage of Apple’s automation platform.
When building Shortcuts for iPhone, users should try to think about automation capabilities that work well for a small screen, that can be taken with you, and take advantage of the device-specific features.
With that in mind, here are four areas (with 12 sample shortcuts) that are good to focus on in your own adventure.
True to its origins as the iPod, the iPhone is great for controlling audio playback on your device. With Shortcuts you can quickly start the right playlist or podcast, put your phone back in your pocket and keep listening.
Shortcuts like Quick Play can generate an on-the-fly queue of 25 songs in any order from the past 12 weeks, the Let Me Pick a Podcast shortcut lets you pick a show without opening the Podcasts app, and the Background Sounds shortcut can use the built-in accessibility feature to launch white noise or ocean sounds.
Similar to the Apple Watch, Shortcuts on iPhone is also great for controlling your devices. You can quickly switch between different settings, it’s handy to have controls for your HomeKit devices at hand, and you can even send remote commands to your Mac.
Shortcuts like I’m Working can change your office lighting to the right brightness and color temperature for working from home instead of your setup for relaxing at night. and the Wake My Mac shortcut uses a remote command to turn on your Mac’s screen from your phone.
Shortcuts on iPhone also provide many opportunities to conveniently capture information that would otherwise be too cumbersome to repeatedly enter on your phone’s small screen. Shortcuts can dictate speech, accept prompts for inputs of various types, and even let you pick from list or pick from menu to add structured data.
Shortcuts like Dictate Groceries can be used over and over while looking through the fridge or pantry to enter new items directly into your shopping list by saying the item’s name out loud. Something like Log Weight can quickly show anyone with a non-smart scale the numeric keypad and type their current weight before logging into Health. Then there are shortcuts like my Log Caffeine Shortcut that can use nested menus to let people choose between types like espresso, coffee, or soda, with the corresponding values also stored in Health.
Another great automation opportunity with iPhone is using the Location Actions, which use the device’s GPS data to detect your location for mapping purposes, calculate distances to other places, and even retrieve latitude and longitude data.
Shortcuts like Get Travel Time Home can help you estimate how long it will take to get home and your estimated time of arrival (useful when trying to decide whether it’s time to leave or not). The Meet at the Halfway Point can find destinations that are between you and another location so you can share the distance with someone else. Finally, Log this Location can save exact GPS coordinates in a note for later in case you want to revisit a very specific place.
Take these shortcuts on the go
As you can see, there’s a wide variety of shortcut options that particularly take advantage of how people use their iPhone — and they’re not limited to these use cases, either.
In theory, many shortcuts that work on iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac also work on your favorite iPhone. The question is whether you want depending on the size of the screen or the functions you need at the time.
But the best iPhone shortcuts are the ones that make use of phone-only functions and work well on the small screen you always have in your pocket. It’s time to find out the best usage scenarios for your iPhone setup.