Time and location triggers make Shortcuts far more useful in iOS 13

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Shortcuts iOS 13
This is Shortcuts in iOS 13. It looks great.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple’s Shortcuts app is already great, but in iOS 13 it gets even better. You can still create simple or complex workflows to do all kinds of tasks, from downloading YouTube videos or setting a quick meditation timer to resizing a whole folder of photos. But until now, you had to trigger those shortcuts manually.

In iOS 13, your iPhone or iPad can run a shortcut at a preset time or when you arrive at a specific location. This is huge.

Time- and location-triggered shortcuts

Shortcuts gains two new kinds of automation in iOS 13.
Shortcuts gains two new kinds of automation in iOS 13.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

For instance, you could have a shortcut run when you arrive home, switching on a HomeKit scene, sending a message to a family member that you’ve arrived, and perhaps playing your walk-on music. Or, if you have a task you perform at the same time every day, you can just set it to run at that time.

The timer option goes deep.
The timer option goes deep.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

It’s really deep, too. Pick the timer option, and you can pick a time manually. But you can also tie the shortcut to any of your existing alarms, or to your Bedtime wake-up time. You can even have the shortcut trigger only when you snooze an alarm.

So, for instance, when you stop your wake-up alarm, you could run a HomeKit scene.

App-triggered iOS 13 shortcuts

This shortcut runs when I open the Infuse app.
This shortcut runs when I open the Infuse app.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

You can also have a shortcut run when you launch an app. For instance, I cooked up this shortcut in just a few minutes. It runs when I launch the Infuse video-playing app. The shortcut activates Do Not Disturb and sets the volume and screen brightness to 80%.

You can choose to have these app-triggered shortcuts run automatically, or they can show a notification asking you every time.

Yes, all these can be triggers, too.
Yes, all these can be triggers, too.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

We will cover these new shortcuts in lots more depth after the iOS 13 beta matures a bit. Right now, it’s too buggy and glitchy to get much done, and the features aren’t yet fixed.

Be careful

One warning for folks who are running the beta and want to experiment with these new triggers: There are now two Shortcuts apps, the old one and the new one, both with exactly the same icon. If you edit an existing shortcut in the new Shortcuts app, then it will no longer run on any other devices. It gets upgraded to “new Shortcuts,” and will only run there. So, make sure to only work on duplicates, especially for complex shortcuts with many steps.