STT 14: Loads of Smart Tech at CES 2020 🎙

On episode 14 of Smart Tech Today, Mikah and I talked about what I saw at CES 2020.

But before I get to what we covered in the show, I have exciting news – Smart Tech Today is now available as a video show in addition to our regular podcast feed!

We’ve always had the cameras on for our livestream, but the show’s been doing well enough to add in video production as well.

So, make sure to subscribe on YouTube if you want to watch along afterwards, or add the video podcast feed to get them delivered directly in Apple Podcasts.

The show will still be a podcast first, and we’ll be making sure you’re not missing out on anything if you’re a listener. But if you want to see us talk through the topics and see occasional on-screen views of the stories/websites we’re referencing, there’s bonus material in the video feed!

Plus, I’ll be posting each YouTube video inside these blog posts, here’s the latest:

Here’s what we talked about in the episode:

We are off for Monday, January 20 for Martin Luther King Jr Day, but we’ll be live next Monday at our usual 4pm PST – thanks for listening!

Links for the show:

How far did I walk today? 📲

Today’s new shortcut is How far did I walk today? is designed for CES attendees but is also good for anyone really:

Looks at the Health app for total steps and distance for today, then formats the information to display in an alert or be spoken back from Siri.

Uses only the Apple Watch as the main source of data so no information is duplicated from the phone.

Built after day 1 of my first CES when I took 26,264 steps for a total of 13.2 miles, almost entirely in/around the convention center areas.

This is also a good demo of how Siri Shortcuts can be very useful just with the Health app – there’s tons of health “samples” to dig through and examine different types to work with.

Get the shortcut or view a full screenshot of the steps.

Which CES shuttle should I take? 📲

New shortcut “Which CES shuttle should I take?“ for CES attendees:

Pulls from a dictionary of CES hotel names and their associated shuttle #s, lets you choose from the names, then tells you which shuttle to take.

Also opens your final destination in Maps so you can follow along.

If you’re new to CES like I am, this is a helpful guide for getting on the right shuttle to head to the right destination.

The conference is so spread out and constantly checking to see which shuttle is a waste of energy – just ask Siri instead 🙂

Get the shortcut or view a full screenshot of the shortcut.

Playing a podcast by time of day using “If” conditionals 📲

This afternoon, @kcjokes asked for a shortcut that can play a podcast based on the time of day:

After thinking about it for a minute, I built this for him:

Takes the current time, converts it to 24-hour time, then grabs just the Number value and uses it in an “If” conditional – if before 8pm (or 20), play podcast “A”, otherwise if after 8pm play podcast “B.”

Includes Import Questions for pre-selecting the podcasts.

This is a helpful example of using the “If” action to create conditionals in your shortcuts, letting something different happen each time you run the shortcut depending on how the condition is met. In this, the shortcut uses the current Time values inside “If” conditionals so that something different happens depending whether the shortcut is run before or after a certain time of day.

To be more specific, formatting the Time into a single 24-hour value lets the “If” action’s conditions utilize “less than” or “equal to”-type math to check against the current hour – in iOS 13, the “If” action’s conditions change depending on the type of content used.

Feel free to give it a more creative name 🙂

Get the shortcut or view the full screenshot.

Log your sun exposure with an Apple Watch automation 🌞⌚️📲

Here’s a Personal Automation for Apple Watch that I’m running automatically at the start of my Walking workouts – Log UV index:

Gets the current weather at the current location and logs the UV index for the hour into the Health app, then displays it or speaks it back when run via Siri.

Includes “Get Device Name” and an “If” action to account for being run on the iPad, which does not have the Health app and would otherwise fail.

Shows a screenshot from the Shortcuts app with “Get Current Weather,” “Get the Device name,” an “If” action set to “If Device Name contains iPad”, then “Show Result,” otherwise “Log Health Sample” and then “Show Alert.”

I built this because I wanted to track the UV levels I am being exposed to on a daily basis, whether it be too much during the summer or not enough during the winter.

I use this inside a Personal Automation for Apple Watch set to the “Walking” workout type – the Run Shortcut action runs the Log UV Index when the trigger is met as my workout begins. That way, any time I go on an outdoor walk and I begin a Workout, this will log the sun exposure I’m getting into the Health app.

Shows a Personal Automation in Shortcuts set to Apple Watch walking workouts and including one action step for Run Shortcut set to “Log UV Index.”

Since having an Apple Watch and seeing the UV index on my watch faces, I have realized just how strong the afternoon sun in California can be in and, conversely, how little I was actually getting outside during the winter. I also included the “X out of 14” bit to help with the context, since I doubt many people know the bounds of UV index scores 🤓

Since I already use the Outdoor Walk feature every day, it’s an easy and automatic way to trigger a shortcut reliably – why not log the UV index every time? Some day in the future I might be able to make an interesting insight from having the data saved.

Plus, I may stack on other shortcuts using the “Run Shortcut” action, treating my daily walks as a human-powered hamster wheel for all my Shortcuts Automation needs.

Get the shortcut or view a full screenshot.

Then, to set up the trigger, do the following 10-step process:

  1. Open the Automations tab.
  2. Create a new automation by tapping the + in the top right.
  3. Select “Personal Automation.”
  4. Choose “Apple Watch Workout” under the Event label.
  5. Choose “Walking” from the Workout Type menu, then tap “Next.”
  6. Add “Run Shortcut” from the actions list.
  7. Tap in the empty “Shortcut” field and then choose Log UV Index.
  8. Tap “Done,” then toggle “Ask Before Running” off.
  9. Confirm the “Don’t Ask” option so it will run without asking each time the workout starts.
  10. Tap “Done” to finish the Automation.

Then, go for a walk, start a Workout, and look for the notification!

Singalong 📲

New shortcut Singalong for Apple Music users:

Turns on the Apple TV, asks if you want to Hand Off music to the TV from the current device, then opens the Music app and shows the Remote on the current device.

I use this to play my music on the TV so I can take advantage of the Live Lyrics feature.

It asks if I want to hand off rather than doing it every time so I can run this again later to jump back into Music if I’ve walked away from the singing session 🙂

Get the shortcut or view the full screenshot.

2020 Meme generator 📲

Sometimes you just have to make a meme into a shortcut:

Takes the “2020” meme with a line of text in the middle and uses a find & replace to swap out your own text, then copies it and opens Twitter. Your new input must be less than 30 characters to fit.

This is a silly meme generator and proof of concept for how Siri Shortcuts can be used.

Make your own meme generators using the Ask For Input, Text, and Replace Text actions in Shortcuts!

Note: these are not very friendly to users with screen readers, so deploy with care.

Get the shortcut or view the full screenshot.

Twitter self-search 📲

Self-search is a handy shortcut I built for Twitter users:

Using a Twitter username inputted on import and a keyword entered when the shortcut is run, this shortcut takes the info, URL-encodes it into a Twitter link, and opens into the app to show the results.

Use this to search your own tweets for something you’ve said in the past instead of scrolling through all the way through your own tweets or entering the fiddly search operators yourself.

Get the shortcut or view the full screenshot of .

Pick random Office episode 📲

If you love The Office and want to have a random episode picked for you, this shortcut is for you:

Using a dictionary filled out with the season numbers and corresponding episode counts for each, this picks a random season, then episode, then displays it in an alert as Netflix opens on the Apple TV.

Works aloud when run from Siri; good for HomePod.

After watching every season of The Office too many times, my girlfriend and I started picking random episodes to watch.

At first we just asked Siri for a random number between 1 and 9, then would find the episode counts and then ask for a random number again; so, I built this shortcut to make it faster each time and easier to try again if we wanted a different option.

This can easily be recreated for any show too – add in the seasons and episode counts, change the name, and you’re good to go!

Get the shortcut or view the full screenshot.

Move from Ulysses to iA Writer 📲

Just created this new shortcut Move from Ulysses to iA Writer:

Gets sheets from a group in Ulysses, asks which one to use, then adds it into iA Writer via their URL scheme. Only accepts text, so you’ll have to move over any images.

I’ll be using this to move my iMore articles out of Ulysses and into iA Writer when I want to edit them, add images according to iMore’s file naming system, and prepare them for uploading to the web.

Ulysses doesn’t allow the actual filenames of images to be renamed, so I have to use iA Writer near the end. Ulysses does allow for adding titles to images, but I want the actual file itself renamed for SEO purposes – so I built this shortcut to move my pieces over.

Get the shortcut or view a full screenshot.