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iOS 12: How to create custom Siri Shortcuts

Siri Shortcuts is Apple’s answer to a more robust personal assistant across their product line. A near visual clone to its predecessor Workflow, the new Shortcuts app brings deeper automation to iOS devices. Developers will be able to create “donations“, specific actions within their apps, that can then be controlled by Siri. By chaining these donations together, users will be able to personalize Siri requests to fit their personal use cases.

During the WWDC 2018 keynote, Apple demoed just how much Shortcuts is able to accomplish. Kim Beverett from the Siri Shortcuts team created a custom shortcut that allowed her to: send someone a message on her ETA, navigate to her home, set her HomeKit thermostat to 70 degrees, turn on her fan, and then play her favorite NPR station.

Although Siri Shortcuts isn’t officially out yet, even on the iOS 12 developer beta, we can surface a lot of this functionality with the currently available Workflow app. Let’s dive in.

While we wait for Siri Shortcuts to hit iOS 12 betas, we’ll be using Apple’s free Workflow application to create these Siri Shortcuts. You’ll notice that functionality is near identical, save for a few deeper integrations only available to Siri Shortcuts.

How to create custom Siri Shortcuts

  1. Launch Workflow
  2. Create new Workflow
  3. Swipe over to the Actions pane to begin dragging and dropping in your actions workflow
  4. Select Done

How to create a personalized phrase for Siri Shortcuts

  1. Head to Settings > Siri & Search
  2. Find your recently created Workflow under the recommend list or under More Shortcuts > Workflow
  3. Record your personalized phrase
  4. Launch your custom Siri Shortcut by saying, “Hey Siri, [your personalized phrase]”

How to recreate the Siri Shortcut from Apple’s WWDC 2018 keynote

Workflow doesn’t have the deep-integration that Siri Shortcuts was shown to have on stage, but this will get you as close as possible for now.

  1. Launch Workflow
  2. Create a new Workflow
  3. Add the following Actions:
    1. Street Address
      • Inserting the location you’d like to go to
    2. Get Travel Time
    3. Text
      • Insert the text you want your message to have
    4. Send Message
    5. Trigger IFTTT Applet
      • Home actions don’t exist within Workflow. By connecting IFTTT to your smart home appliance, you can emulate some of HomeKit’s controls.
    6. Get Variable
      • Select the Street Address magic variable
    7. Show Directions
    8. Show Notification
      • This is the text you’ll see in a notification once the Workflow has finished running. (I’ve used the Travel Time magic variable and dummy text for my example.)
    9. Get Playlist
      • Podcast actions don’t exist in Workflow. Use the music options instead to play your choice in music.
    10. Play Music
  4. Select Done
  5. Create your personalized Siri Shortcut phrase

While this isn’t a perfect copy of what we saw on-stage during the keynote, it’s a great first look into what will be possible with iOS 12 in the months to come. I’ve already begun using Siri Shortcuts to launch Workflows I’ve made in the past. Do you anticipate yourself using it in the future, or do you think it’s something you’ll rarely ever use?

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