Categories
Shortcuts

Six Shortcuts livestreams I’ve done in May

For the month of May, my main public focus was publishing livestreams related to Shortcuts and my interests as a content creator.

I’ve long had a streaming setup and even covered most of iOS 13’s updates for Shortcuts in an hour-long stream last fall, but I’ve always wanted to stream more and never really did.

In these last 9 months since then, I’ve also seen a ton of new Shortcuts-related apps drop and for some reason I didn’t fully adopt them – I had a weird hook in my brain that all my shortcuts needed to be easily shareable and I was worried about depending on third-party apps that people would have to download and pay for just to use my shortcuts.

But eventually, I realized I’d shot myself in the foot – these apps were necessary because of some shortcoming of Shortcuts in its current state, and by missing out on those apps I was handicapping myself, who also desperately needed more control over his own Shortcuts experience. Once I started adopting the Shortcuts-related apps, my productivity skyrocketed and I realized I needed to learn these even more – enter livestreams with the developers themselves.

Since the start of May, I’ve streamed with the developers of Charty, Timery, and LaunchCuts (plus talked to the Data Jar developer), plus in the process reached out for more streams in the form of Chris Lawley showing my editing videos on iPad with LumaFusion, I showed Matt Cox the basics of shortcuts over an hour, and I had the pleasure of Jason Snell walking me through one of his Charty shortcuts.

Here’s the full list:

Watch Timery shortcuts (w/ developer Joe Hribar) from matthewcassinelli on www.twitch.tv

Watch Real folders for Shortcuts: LaunchCuts with Adam Tow! from matthewcassinelli on www.twitch.tv

I’m doing these streams for one reason really – I’m creating videos I would want to see. I want to learn everything there is to know about these apps and I think there’s lots of value in communicating with the developers directly while everyone can watch along.

I’m also trying to learn from friends or experts when I don’t know enough about an area – my stream with Chris was a great test for that, and he absolutely delivered with tons of pro tips around LumaFusion.

I will still produce short and sweet videos on some of these topics for YouTube, but this is a way for me to share way more often and for us all to learn together.

But for streams, I’m in the process of testing out the best formats and styles, experimenting on which platform to use (always Twitch, mostly Twitter/Periscope, sometimes YouTube), and have been optimizing the workflow to make it easy enough for myself and any guests to stream regularly.

You can find all of my future streams through the link shortcuts.live, and I’ll be building out ways for people to passively follow my streaming schedule and always know when I’m going live.

Please submit suggestions for future topics and potential guests – I want to build this out with you all in mind too.

Thanks for watching, and be sure to say hello in the chat if you’re watching along – thank you very much for your time!


Categories
Shortcuts

14 Accessibility shortcuts for Global Accessibility Awareness Day

On episode 30 of Smart Tech Today, I spent about 10 minutes describing a series of shortcuts I put together that take advantage of the accessibility actions found in the Shortcuts app ahead of today, May 21, which is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD).

Accessibility features are incredibly important for modern technology to provide, making it possible for everyone to utilize their hardware & software regardless of their personal situation – you either have direct accessibility needs that require specific use of your technology, you’ll one day need them yourself, or you benefit from those features anyway (think Dark mode).

The Shortcuts app has always been an Accessibility priority for Apple, with them declaring as much in their confirmation story when they acquisition of the Workflow app before it became Shortcuts1:

“The Workflow app was selected for an Apple Design Award in 2015 because of its outstanding use of iOS accessibility features, in particular an outstanding implementation for VoiceOver with clearly labeled items, thoughtful hints, and drag/drop announcements, making the app usable and quickly accessible to those who are blind or low-vision.”

In iOS 13, Apple went further and added a set of actions to Shortcuts for controlling Accessibility features, available to use inside the shortcut editor in Apps > Settings.

These actions enable remote control over the state of many useful Accessibility settings, letting you create shortcuts to toggle them that can be run from the Shortcuts app, but also by:
– running from the Shortcuts widget
typing in Spotlight search
asking Siri,
making Home screen icons, or even
tapping your iPhone to an NFC tag.

Here’s the clip where I talk through my shortcuts:

And here is the full set you can add to your collection2:

  • Open Accessibility settings: Opens a deep link directly into the Settings > Accessibility page. Run this shortcut to explore the Accessibility features available on every iPhone and iPad that help you customize your device for your individual needs.

  • Set brightness: Presents a menu with options for how to set the current device’s brightness using a combination of actual brightness levels and the “White Point” accessibility feature that can be used to reduce the intensity of bright colors. Run this shortcut to change how bright your screen appears throughout the day – plus you can mix and match the levels according to your needs.

  • Embiggen: Presents a menu for choosing how things appear on your device – “Easier” changes the Text Size to “extra extra extra large” and turns on Reduce Motion, Reduce Transparency, and Increase Contrast, while “Defaults” lets you quickly change it all back. Run this shortcut if you want to temporarily make your device easier to use or hand off to anyone with Accessibility needs, and then be able to quickly change it back.

  • Dark mode: Presents a menu for changing your screen’s appearance to Light mode or Dark mode. Keep this in your Shortcuts widget if you want to quickly change the appearance (rather than diving into Control Center or Settings to change it).

  • Reduce motion and transparency: Toggles the Reduce Motion and Reduce Transparency features of iOS that can help avoid fatigue in users sensitive to those types of effects. Run this shortcut if you want to temporarily reduce eye strain, or just to explore how Motion and Transparency affect your experience on iPhone and iPad. Run this again to switch them off (or back on later).

  • Toggle voice control: Toggles the Voice Control feature in Accessibility that enables voice input to select and operate system features without direct physical interaction; also uses Face ID to check for attention and avoid listening when you’re not using the device. Run this shortcut to run Voice Control on/off as needed – if you like Siri Shortcuts, you might like controlling your whole device with just your voice!

  • Toggle VoiceOver: Turns the VoiceOver feature of iOS on and off again as needed, enabling the device to speak out elements of the screen that are tapped or selected and allowing blind or low-vision users to understand what’s happening on screen. Run this shortcut to toggle VoiceOver as needed – this is the best way to understand how Accessibility features enable everyone to use technology, regardless of whether you can even see the screen.

  • Start Speak Screen: Activates the “Speak Screen” popover that prompts the device to dictate elements on the screen one-by-one, letting users hear what’s visible without manually tapping through everything. Once you’re done, tap the X on the screen to end it. Run this shortcut when you want your device to read aloud anything on screen, from an article you’re reading to the user interface of an application.

  • Toggle Switch Control: Turns the “Switch Control” feature on/off, which allows for physically-attached switches to be used for navigating the iOS interface without reaching around the screen or using a trackpad. Run this shortcut if you have limited mobility and want to use Switch Control-enabled external gear to take advantage of iPhones and iPads.

  • Toggle Assistive Touch: Turns the AssistiveTouch feature on/off, enabling an on-screen touch target and menu to appear that provides additional access to Accessibility features while using iOS. Run this shortcut to quickly access the AssistiveTouch menu and its additional features, plus quickly turn it off when needed. Can also be used for specific pointer devices that require AssistiveTouch to be activated to map actions to additional buttons.

  • Start Guided Access: Enables the “Guided Access” feature of iOS that prevents closing or navigating from the current app (requires Guided Access first be turned “On” in Accessibility > Guided Access). Run this whenever you need to activate Guided Access – if someone with tremors is using the device, it can help them stay within the app their using and avoid accidentally triggering multitouch gestures that swipe away to another app.

  • Open Magnifier: Opens the “Magnifier” feature of iOS that uses the camera and a simple zoom control that allows users to see things that are far away as if they were up close; plus, it allows for different color filters for anyone who might be colorblind or have other difficulty visually distinguishing things. Run this shortcut whenever you want to read something far away (or even take a quick screenshot of the text), or if you want to filter whatever you’re looking at for visual clarity depending on your needs.

  • Toggle LED flash: Turns the “LED flash” feature of iOS on/off, which blinks the camera flash whenever there’s a new notification or alert. Run this if you need high awareness of incoming notifications on your iPhone and iPad using a visual flash of light instead of features like audible alerts or silent (and subtle) vibrations.

  • Toggle mono audio: Changes iOS’ sound output from stereo to mono, piping exactly the same sound into both ears instead of creating audio separation. Use this shortcut if you have limited hearing in one or both ears and want to hear all parts of a song with stereo separation – or if you can only listen to one headphone cup at a time (DJs?).

You can learn more about Apple’s accessibility efforts on their website, they’re sharing lots about GAAD across their social channels, and there’s also a brand-new Accessibility category in the Shortcuts Gallery:

Apple’s new collection includes an impressive array of shortcuts, from simple toggles like mine to a 90-action “Pain Report” tool for tracking your health over time – I highly suggest you check it out. If you’re on iOS, tap here to open the Shortcuts Gallery.

If you have any suggestions for Accessibility-related shortcuts, please let me know on Twitter.

(Story updated with details about new Accessibility section in Gallery.)


  1. I was part of the Workflow team and left Apple shortly after the acquisition. 
  2. If you’re having trouble adding these shortcuts, be sure to go into the Settings app \> Shortcuts and toggle “Allow Untrusted Shortcuts.” Plus, you need to have run at least one shortcut in the Shortcuts app before this setting becomes available – grab one from the Gallery and try it out if you haven’t run any yet. 
Categories
Offsite Podcasts

STT 28: The Best-Looking Smart Lock You’ll Never See 🎙

On this episode of Smart Tech Today, Mikah and I talked about:

Apple

Streaming

Smart Home

Projects

Picks of the week


Links for the show:

Categories
Offsite Podcasts

STT 27: Work Out With Your Smart TV 🎙

On this episode of Smart Tech Today, Mikah and I talked about:

Smart tech updates

Google news

Streaming media

The future of gaming

Changing the color of my lights with… Fantastical?

Picks of the Week

Thanks for being a listener! We really appreciate the support.

Links for the show:

Categories
Offsite

My routine checklist shortcut on Rene Ritchie’s channel

Rene Ritchie was kind enough to invite me onto his new channel along with some internet friends to talk about ways to stay productive with iPhone while stuck at home – here’s the video:

I talked about my Routine checklist shortcut, which I’m using to pull from a series of checklists I just moved into a new app Data Jar.

Each gets added to Things as a single item with checklist attached, so I can keep up with my routine and mark things off as needed.

Here’s a shortcut with a blank checklist for you to fill out the data yourself, and get the main Routine checklist shortcut to use those lists regularly.

Make sure to watch the whole video for additional tips from my Smart Tech Today cohost Mikah Sargent, my automation pal Rosemary Orchard, Georgia Dow (senior editor for iMore) and Thomas Frank (creator/founder of Nebula)!

Plus, stay tuned to my RSS feeds for a detailed look at my routine checklists (and more on Data Jar too). ☺️

Categories
Podcasts

STT 26: Troubleshooting Your Smart Lights 🎙

On this episode of Smart Tech Today, Mikah and I talked about:

Links for the show:

Categories
Offsite Podcasts

STT 25: A Smart Thermometer for Your Ear Hole 🎙

On this episode of Smart Tech Today, Mikah and I talked about:

Links for the show:

Categories
Podcasts

STT 24: Smart Tech For Livestreaming 🎙

On this episode of Smart Tech Today, Mikah and I talked about:

Links for the show:

Categories
Offsite Podcasts

STT 23: Good News: Polaroid Is Back in a Big Way! 🎙

On this episode of Smart Tech Today, Mikah and I talked about:

Links for the show:

Categories
Offsite Podcasts

STT 22: Google I/O Pivots to Blog Posts 🎙

On this episode of Smart Tech Today, Mikah and I talked about:

Plus, we posed for the silly glamour shot once we both turned our Go lights blue 😆

Links for the show: