Beware: Shortcuts could steal your data

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Shortcuts app from iOS 12
Siri Shortcuts could be doing more than you think, like invading your privacy.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Malicious Siri Shortcuts are a real possibility warns one developer, so users need to start treating all of them as potential threats. He calls on Apple to fix their problems.

Shortcuts debuted last fall in iOS 12. They are small apps that can be used to automate iOS features. That apparently makes them well suited for creating malware.

How to make Shortcuts give you a weather forecast on iPad

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iPad weather
Life’s a beach — without this iPad weather shortcut.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The iPad infamously still lacks a built-in weather app. There are plenty of ways around this — you can ask Siri, you can use the Maps app to see the weather anywhere, or you can wait for your iPhone to give you a lock-screen forecast every morning.

Today we add a new method. We’ll make a quick shortcut that gets the weather at your current location, and displays it as a notification.

Adobe Lightroom now supports Shortcuts

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I sent this image to Lightroom with a Shortcut.
I sent this image to Lightroom with a Shortcut.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Adobe’s Lightroom, perhaps the best photo-editing app on iOS, now supports shortcuts. That is, it supports one shortcut, letting you load photo into it from the camera roll, or any other place your find images in iOS.

Wouldn’t a simple Open In… option suffice? Perhaps, but by adding just one simple shortcut, Adobe has also added quite a few powerful possibilities.

How to share photos safely with Shortcuts

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Removing geodata won’t always protect a photo’s location
Removing geodata won’t always protect a photo’s location
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you know that every photo you send via iMessage, or other messaging services like WhatsApp, contains all that photo’s location data? If you snap a picture in your home, anyone who’s receives that photo will be able to see where you took it on a map.

The same goes for uploading images to online auction sites, or internet forums. The good news is that it’s easy to sanitize your images with Shortcuts.

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Don’t keep your App Store wishlist on paper.
Don’t keep your App Store wishlist on paper.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

How to use Files app to replace your lame notes app

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No, not that kind of file.
No, not that kind of file.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

After trying out the millionth notes/scrapbooking app for the iPad, I realized that I should ditch apps altogether and just use the built-in Files app. It might be severely limited as an actual file browser, but Files has some big advantages over scrapbooking apps. It makes everything available to Spotlight searches, for one, and it doesn’t create duplicates of your files, because you’re always working with the originals.

Another huge advantage is that marking up PDFs with the Apple Pencil is instant. With all other PDF editors I’ve tried, you have to tap to enter a markup mode. In Files, you just start writing on the PDF. And that’s just the beginning.

Let’s see how it all works.

Replace your home-screen app icons with actions

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Home screen actions
It’s easy to make you home screen more useful.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The iPad’s home screen is a waste of space. The 4X5 grid of icons looks absurd on the 13-inch iPad Pro. In fact, the fact that you’re limited to a grid of app icons is itself absurd. Where are the live readouts from your weather app or stock ticker? Where are the actions to send a message direct to your spouse/boss without opening an app first?

Worse, because the iPad doesn’t have 3D Touch, you can’t do anything useful with those icons other than launch the app1.

Today we’ll fix that. Using a combination of shortcuts, you can add actions to your home screen, instead of apps. For instance, you can create a grid of custom icons which can email a contact, create a new blank file in your text app of choice, create a quick reminder, and so on. Check it out.

The best iOS apps of 2018 [Year in Review]

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Year in Review Best iOS apps 2018
Don’t miss out on these awesome iOS apps.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac Year in Review 2018There are almost 2 million apps available on iOS today, and yet in 2018, 10 years after the App Store opened its doors, developers continue to deliver new and unique titles that blow us away.

We’ve rounded up the very best from the past year right here. We have terrific text editors, fantastic photography apps, amazing utilities, and lots more.

This Shortcut shrinks your huge 4K Christmas videos

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Now this is a big video.
Now this is a big video.
Photo: DRs Kulturarvsprojekt/Flickr CC

“This is going to be the best Christmas video ever!” you tell yourself. You have an iPhone XS, it’s set to 4K at 24 frames per second, and you’re framing your shots like a pro. Smart HDR will illuminate the smiles on the faces of your nieces and nephews, and stabilization will take care of your hangover jitters.

“Oh man, I can’t wait until these morons see this in their iMessages, using iOS 12’s great Share Back feature,” you think somewhat uncharitably, while squeezing a handy link into your thoughts.

Then reality grabs you. That 5-minute 4K clip of the angels ripping their way through a forest’s worth of wrapping paper is over 1.5GB. There’s no way you can share that on your parents’ crappy internet connection. Why oh why didn’t you shoot at 720p? Luckily, Shortcuts is here to save the day. Again.