Apple Shortcuts are an easy and powerful tool to automate actions on iOS devices. A new ‘how-to’ from the people at Take Control Books walks users through setting up and building customized shortcuts with step-by-step ‘recipes’.
|Take Control of Shortcuts, by automation expert Rosemary Orchard, explains Apple’s built-in automation app for iPhones and iPads, recently enhanced with new features in iOS 13/iPadOS 13.
Shortcuts in simple terms
The book is a complete introduction to Shortcuts, covering every aspect of building, installing, debugging, running, syncing, and sharing. It also includes step-by-step recipes for creating numerous useful shortcuts.
Much like Automator on the Mac, users can build powerful and complex automations using drag-and-drop. Shortcuts can then be ran with a tap, a Siri command, or even automatically when certain conditions change.
“Shortcuts can be a little overwhelming,” Orchard told Cult of Mac in a one-on-one interview. “What I’m trying to do is not only explain what Shortcuts is and also why they should be using it.
In the new book, Orchard walks through the Shortcuts interface, shows the myriad ways you can run a shortcut, and helps users find and install prebuilt shortcuts from the Gallery.
“The book also shows 15 shortcuts people can actually build themselves with step-by-step instructions that they can follow, and then shortcuts they can download,” Orchard commented.
The book also covers syncing and sharing shortcuts, communicating with web services, and using various third-party apps in conjunction with Shortcuts.
iOS Shortcut improvements
While Shortcuts is essentially a rebranded and a more capable version of Workflow, it’s no longer just for advanced Mac users. It lets anyone with an iPhone or iPad automate day-to-day tasks, from the simple to the complex, according to Orchard.
“Shortcuts improvements have really helped a lot,” she said. “It’s still one of those things where if you look at it you’re probably not sure exactly where to start. It’s one of these things that by adding a lot of new extra features it has improved the capabilities for users.”
Orchard said an added feature set Apple added in 2018 has made the product more useful.
“Previously, some of the shortcuts were hidden away in the settings which kind of separated them from the actual app,” Orchard said. “Now they’re integrated in and for your average user that’s really great. Now, for instance, you can dictate a draft in Drafts, or start a timer in Timery. Users can now much more easily grasp what they need to be doing.”