If the poor possibilities of “real” automation in iOS 13 disappointed a little, the situation with iOS 14 has improved significantly. Regardless of whether you want to stamp invoices with “cash paid” or to “improve” images: the shortcuts app represents a real gain in productivity.
A shortcut offers a quick way to combine small work steps from different apps. Shortcuts can automate a variety of things that occur every day – for example, determining a random name, moving text from one app to another, taking notes from websites and much more. In the professional environment, shortcuts have enormous potential, from the automation of tasks such as the creation of documents (for example protocols or NDA documents) to the generation of sequence instructions or “If / Then” rules when dealing with web servers or databases. Apple has also recognized this and makes the associated “shortcuts” app available pre-installed on iOS devices. The app allows you to address and bundle (Siri) shortcut actions from various apps. Addressing so-called x callback URLs is also possible. Such functions could simply be called app microservice. Basically, a process as defined is like a Swiss Army knife for completing complicated tasks.
In the gallery view of the shortcuts app, interested users can find an overview of shortcuts in different categories. Similar to the iTunes / App Stores, there are ready-made shortcuts for various purposes. Shortcuts from this gallery are traded as “trustworthy shortcuts”. From simple text translations, GIF animations or queries of REST services, you will find a rich selection of shortcuts here. Since iOS 13, the shortcuts app also differentiates between confidential and non-confidential shortcuts. Shortcuts that were not loaded from the local gallery but from the Internet (examples: Teslacuts, Shortcuts Gallery, Shrtcts, Reddit, Routine Hub) are not classified as trustworthy.
A shortcut once created can be integrated or triggered almost anywhere in the iOS system, namely:
from a widget in the Today view,
from the Shortcuts app,
automated at certain events / times
or via the share sheet.
Automation was already announced in iOS 13 for many areas and (rudimentary) also implemented. IOS 13 offered numerous triggers for the shortcuts app. With the exception of NFC tags, these automations in iOS 13 only work with pre-execution dialogs. You have to manually confirm the stored action, which puts the meaning and purpose of “automation” into question.
Sure, iOS automations are now quite powerful and could therefore do a lot of damage. For example, photos can be taken unnoticed and sent via iMessage. This is certainly something that you should pay attention to when you execute a “foreign” shortcut (automated). But this decision should be left to the user. After all, Apple seems to share this setting with iOS 14, because with the update the situation has changed fundamentally – at least it looks like it in the current beta. The following triggers now work without asking:
The number of triggers has also been expanded. The following additional triggers are now possible with iOS 14:
However, one important event is missing: the occurrence or termination of events in the calendar or the tasks. It would be optimal if the user could create a rule that, for example, “mutes” his iPhone during certain appointments and then returns it to normal.
Apart from the automation, iOS 14 gives users the option of storing their shortcuts in (intelligent) folders. This helps the clarity and organization enormously. Apple has also improved system-wide support. The following native apps are now also available in the shortcuts app:
Unfortunately, an expansion with the dual SIM options, such as starting calls via the telephone app on a selected line, is still not available. With iOS 14, however, there is also a long-promised function. So it is possible to execute the shortcuts app and thus individual shortcuts on the Apple Watch. You can also store shortcuts directly on the clock face. (mb / fm)