About 100 million Americans are walking around with an iconic digital assistant in their pockets. You know her as Siri, and she can do much more than report the weather or call your mom.
Siri can help you translate foreign language, split a check or calculate a tip, and call an Uber. The digital assistant can learn your routine and regular commands and will suggest things like “set your 7:00 a.m. alarm” or “place your Starbucks order.”
With Apple’s latest product launch, iPhone 11 hype, and iOS 13 release — Siri’s power has shifted further into the spotlight with its own app and new commands.
iOS 13 Reintroduces You to Siri
September’s iOS 13 update paid special attention to Siri. Apple claims the digital assistant now has a more natural, life-like voice with improved patterns of tone and rhythm. If you use Siri to dictate a text, your friends will receive a little “Sent with Siri” marker — so they won’t think you’re illiterate. Siri’s suggestions are more powerful now too: She might suggest calendar or reminder events based on a conversation you have in Messages, or look at your flight ticket and remind you how long it’ll take to get to the airport in current traffic.
Most notably, Siri Shortcuts has its own app and is preinstalled along with other iOS staples like iTunes Store, Maps, and Safari. Both custom and suggested shortcuts can be curated in the Shortcuts app. This change is deliberately directing iPhone users to the many things that Siri can do for you with a few shortcut commands.
The Secret Power of Shortcuts
The Siri Shortcuts app is essentially a hub for programming Siri. It’s a place to organize quick actions across your various apps and to maximize Siri’s power. The possibilities are pretty endless as you can choose from suggestions on the app, customize your own, or upload shortcuts from developers.
You can create shortcuts for a wide variety of unique and everyday tasks. Like one for finding a gas station nearby, converting photos into a GIF, or playing a random episode of “The Office.” You can schedule birthday texts, download Youtube videos, scan a product’s product code to search for it online, and be notified when your battery is fully charged.
How to Start Shortcutting
With so many shortcut options it can be overwhelming to get started. Start simple with the things you already do every day — like setting an alarm or checking the weather and traffic. You can find a wide variety of simple Siri commands in the gallery tab of the app. In the “My Shortcuts” tab, when you click on “Create Shortcut” and then “Add Action,” Siri will have a ton of suggestions based on your current activity. Within that shortcut, you can add several things if they fall under one routine. For example, in one shortcut you can add actions like turning on your morning alarm, sending a goodnight text message, dimming the screen brightness, and turning on Do Not Disturb — name it “bedtime routine” and all these things will happen simultaneously when you prompt Siri.
Once you’re comfortable with those simple every day prompts, you can start adding more complex sequences and importing pre-programmed shortcuts from developers.
Our Favorite Siri Shortcuts
There are a few shortcuts and sequences you can program or upload that stand out to us for their ingenuity and usefulness. You can find most of these in the Shortcuts Gallery, or upload them to the Shortcuts app.
- Morning Wake-Up Call — Wakes you up with a greeting, your day’s events, the time you should leave for work, a weather report, and your horoscope.
- Water Eject — Plays a certain tone to get water out of your speaker.
- Share Wi-Fi — Generates a QR code that makes it super simple to share your Wi-Fi with other people without disclosing your password and it works with Android phones.
- Keep Me Alive — Takes low-power-mode to the next level. This will do everything it can to keep your phone on. Like turning off Wi-Fi, data, and Bluetooth, dimming brightness, and anything else it can.
- Show Some Photos — Ever want to show a few photos from your camera roll, but worried they’ll keep swiping? This shortcut allows you to select the photos you want to show someone and displays them in an isolated slideshow.
- Pulled Over By Police — If you tell Siri “I’m getting pulled over,” she’ll turn on the front camera, start recording a video, and send that video to a contact.
- Lumos and Nox — For the Harry Potter fans out there you can create shortcuts for turning your flashlight on and off to spells from the wizarding world.
Even if you’re already deeply integrated into the Apple ecosystem, there’s a good chance you haven’t been taking full advantage of Siri’s capabilities. The latest iOS 13 updates should make that easier — and perhaps even entice those who don’t own an iPhone. We’ve also reviewed other Apple products and services:
- Curious about the latest iteration of AirPods?
- We’re pretty impressed by Apple Music’s human-curated playlists.
- Check out our first look at Apple Arcade, the new mobile gaming service.
Top image: GettyImages/Wachiwit