A quick look at Siri Shortcuts

Siri Shortcuts

In iOS 12, Apple introduces Siri Shortcuts, which lets you pair your daily routines with third-party apps. Better still, Siri learns your habits and make suggestions based on that knowledge.

Though still in beta along with the rest of iOS 12, the Siri Shortcuts feature is already robust enough to get an idea what to expect when it’s released this Fall. Here’s a look at how to use Siri Shortcuts on your iOS device in iOS 12.

From Workflow to Siri Shortcuts

Unlike the Workflow automation app Apple purchased in 2017 (and is probably replacing), Siri Shortcuts isn’t an app at all. Instead, it’s a selection in the Settings app in iOS under Siri & Search.

Relegating Siri Shortcuts to this location was an odd choice given the popularity of Workflow. Luckily, its unusual placement doesn’t take away from the tool’s usefulness, even as a first release.

The Siri & Search page on iOS includes three main sections: Shortcuts, Ask Siri, and Siri Suggestions. These are followed by a listing of every app installed on your iPhone or iPad.


As Apple explains, you “add Shortcuts for things you frequently do so you can get them done just by asking Siri.” On this screen, you’ll find links called My Shortcuts and More Shortcuts. Between these are links showing at least three recommended actions based on your most recent routines.

1) Click on My Shortcuts to see Shortcuts you’ve already created for Siri to use.

My Shortcuts

2) Click on a Shortcut for more information or to edit/delete it.

In the example above, you see the Shortcuts, “View photos,” “Send a message to Samantha,” “Start a video chat with Samantha,” and “Check Apple stock price.”

Therefore, in this example, all you have to say is “Check Apple stock price,” and Siri will open the Stocks app and take you to the Apple listing.

3) To change the Shortcut, select Edit and then use your voice to change the command. Hit Done at the top right when you’re done.

In the following example, instead of saying “Check Apple stock price,” the Shortcut has been changed to “Check the stock price for Apple.”

Change Shortcut

More Shortcuts

Under More Shortcuts, you’ll a running list of recommended Siri Shortcuts.

1) To get started, tap More Shortcuts.

Note: The three recommended actions mentioned above are also found under More Shortcuts.

Recommended Shortcuts

2) On this screen, you’ll see various actions, sorted by the iOS app. These change often, depending on your routine.

3) To make a recommended action a Shortcut, click on the “+” to the right it.

Weather Shortcut

4) Record your voice as you did before and then tap Done.

In the example above, I selected the recommended action, Show weather in my current location, and recorded my voice.  Now, every time I say, “Show weather in my location,” Siri will get to work and alert me to the current weather conditions.

Ask Siri and Siri Suggestions

The Ask Siri and Siri Suggestions sections on the Siri & Search page in iOS 12 is similar to the one in iOS 11. Using toggles, you can change how Siri reacts.  Some of the choices under Ask Siri include “Listen for “Hey Siri,” “Press Side Button for Siri,” and “Allow Siri When Locked.”

Choices under Siri Suggestions are “Suggestions in Search,” “Suggestions in Lock Up,” and “Suggestions on Lock Screen.”

Changes by app

The final section on the Siri & Search page is a listing of all the apps installed on your iOS device, sorted in alphabetical order.

1) Tapping on any of these brings up a page including whether the app should use “Search,  Suggestions . & Shortcuts,” and “Allow on Lock Screen.”

adidas example

As Apple explains, “Allow information from (app name) to appear in Search, Look Up, Keyboard, and Lock Screen. Siri may learn from and make suggestions based on how you use the app.”

2) Toggle to make a change.

In the example above, I chose the Adidas app and changed its “Allow on Lock Screen” setting.

Learning Curve

Overall, I’ve been impressed with the Siri Shortcuts tool in iOS 12. Nevertheless, I hope Apple makes some design improvements on the Siri & Search page before iOS 12 is released to the public. Its current layout is a little bit messy. In particular, I don’t like seeing the three recommended actions sandwiched between the My Shortcuts and More Shortcuts links. This sloppy setup could prove confusing to many.

Changes made to Siri Shortcuts during the iOS 12 beta process will be reflected here.

Apple will release iOS 12 this Fall.