Categories
Apps News

Apple adds Shortcuts for Mac support to Pages, Numbers, Keynote

Today, Apple released updates to their iWork suite of apps that adds actions in Shortcuts for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote on macOS, bringing powerful first-party actions that Mac users can take advantage to automate their work:

New First-Party Actions

Across all three iWork apps, there are now actions for “Open” and “Create” – plus Numbers has added “Add Row to Top or Bottom of Table” and Keynote has added “Open in Rehearsal Mode” and “Open in Show Mode.”

The Create actions all also include the templates/themes available in the iWork apps, which makes it quick to generate 40+ samples from Pages, Numbers, and Keynote each for a total of over 120+ templates.

Here’s the full list of actions:

  • Pages
  • “Open Document”
  • “Create Document”
  • Numbers
  • “Open Spreadsheet”
  • “Create Spreadsheet”
  • “Add Row to Top or Bottom of Table”
  • Keynote
  • “Open Presentation”
  • “Create Presentation”
  • “Open Presentation in Rehearsal Mode”
  • “Open Presentation in Show Mode”

One Weird Things

One oddity worth mentioning is that the “Add Row” action requires Numbers to physically open the spreadsheet and insert the data, just like it does on iOS – Apple should make this action work in the background without opening the app, otherwise it creates an inconsistent experience with every other action in Shortcuts that doesn’t require opening the app to insert data.

Shortcuts was specifically designed to create a smooth user experience and avoid opening apps to insert data in the foreground (as it did in the previous iteration as Workflow) – this seems like a step back for Shortcuts and users should be able to append data to the spreadsheet via the filesystem.

What This Means for Shortcuts

These new actions are incredibly important to Shortcuts for Mac and the automation ecosystem on Apple’s desktop computing platform – these actions were sorely missing from the release of macOS Monterey and are representative of how Apple thinks about first-party actions for Shortcuts.

Without them, one of the core tools Apple offered simply didn’t integrate with its new automation platform – now, Apple users (and third-party developers) have an excellent set of actions to use as an example for how to integrate with Shortcuts; I want to see more of this from Apple.

More Please

I hope we see more actions like this set from all of Apple’s first-party apps, plus an extension of these actions to go even deeper – I’d love actions for pro apps like Final Cut Pro and Logic, plus Apple should add actions for more utility apps like System Preferences.

We’ve also seen existing iOS actions come to the Mac, but many for apps like Safari don’t work the same or actions aren’t taking much advantage of Mac-specific features. Making all these actions work in the background, adding in support for things like appending/prepending to your documents/inserting pages into your presentation would be great, and adding truly powerful functions like pulling data out of spreadsheets are the ultimate goal – I should be able to automate every aspect of these apps, not only be able to perform these simple (but welcome) actions.


I’ll be releasing a full set of shortcuts to take advantage of these actions soon, so look out for those on my Shortcuts Catalog or sign up for my newsletter to get updates when I release any new shortcuts.

Categories
News

Apple posts Shortcuts changelog for iOS 15.4 and macOS 12.3

On Wednesday, Apple published an update in the Apple Support knowledge base detailing new features and issues fixed in Shortcuts in the latest iOS and macOS releases.

Changes to know about

In the post, Apple lists all of the new features added to the Shortcuts app, from Automation changes, new actions, and lots of smaller details:

The second half also lists the fixes that were made for existing issues – general improvements to the editor, tweaks for broken actions or performance problems, and fixes for scripting both in the app & using Shortcuts’ command-line utility:

Apple is listening

The post itself has significance as well, as it marks Apple providing direct communication for the Shortcuts app about new features and problems.

Previously, the Shortcuts community relied on checking the app after each release and attempted to detail all the changes, which meant only the most obvious features became common knowledge. Plus, the status of bug fixes & ongoing issues was hard to know in each new update without re-testing each time.

Now, this post provides a reference point, both to confirm when these features were released, but also when issues are fixed (or not yet fixed as well) – the increased communication from Apple is very welcome and a huge win for the Shortcuts community.

More like this

Overall, I am extremely pleased to see Apple communicate about Shortcuts this way, and it shows that the company is taking concerns raised by users in the community seriously.

I hope Apple continues to report new changes and fixed alongside each OS release, plus I hope this also applies to mid-release beta cycles – understanding what’s new, what’s fixed, and what might still need further reporting is necessary for beta testers in particular to participate in the Feedback process in a productive manner and help Shortcuts issues get resolved quicker.

I didn’t even know about some of these features & fixes after testing this release for months, and I love to see suggestions that folks in the community submitted now become part of the shipping app – there’s more to do, but Apple has shown that they’re actively listening to the existing problems, as well as shaping the future of Shortcuts with the community’s feedback in mind.

Check out the full changelog on Apple.com.

P.S. Minor detail, but this Apple Support page is not optimized for mobile and should be.

Categories
Siri Shortcuts Video Offsite

Automation for AirTags: what the U1 chip means (beyond finding lost devices)

Apple’s new AirTags are their cheapest standalone product, yet I think they’re one of the most interesting released in a while.

And that’s because of the U1 chip inside – now the fourth Apple product besides iPhone, Apple Watch, and HomePod mini to include one.

This ultra-wideband technology has super-precise tracking technology, which I think could enable a whole new wave of automation capabilities for Apple devices.

I made a video that explains my thoughts on what I’m calling “Spatial Awareness for Siri” – you can watch the whole thing on YouTube in under 3 minutes:

Categories
Newsletter Offsite

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 31

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 31sign up for the newsletter here.

Hello folks,

Yesterday, Apple announced a new iPad Pro, new iMacs, an upgraded Siri remote alongside a new Apple TV, and AirTags – lots to digest.

I’m super excited about Apple bringing the M1 chip to the iPad Pro – it means there’s more power coming to iPad, it shares a chip architecture with Macs, and that means more attention as well as opportunities for users.
I’m hoping that also means Shortcuts for Mac is less a question about how it’d work being built for iOS instead of Mac, which I thought would be preventative in the past… very interesting times we’re in right now.

There wasn’t a mention on-stage or in the one-shot slide of AirTags features whether there’s any type of Automations support for AirTags, so I’m hoping that’s a feature we’ll figure out or get later on.
Until pre-orders kick off this Friday, here’s what’s new in Shortcuts this week:

🆕 NEW FROM ME THIS WEEK

Lots of member materials this week (I’ve got a slew of public shortcuts coming soon), so sign up to get the goodness:

Categories
Newsletter

“What’s New in Shortcuts?” Issue 28

This originally appeared in Issue 28 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

After last week’s outage with Shortcuts links shared online, I received a statement from Apple on the manner:

“We are aware of an issue where previously shared shortcuts are currently unavailable. Newly shared shortcuts are available, and we are working to restore previously shared shortcuts as quickly as possible.”

Since then, they seem to have begun restoring access to previous iCloud links (according to Federico Viticci’s tweets).

It was good to see Apple give a proper response to the situation as well as promptly begin fixing things – although I haven’t received any official statement as a follow-up, so it’s unclear whether it has been fully resolved yet.

I hope Apple also reconsiders making .shortcut files available to install locally so users don’t have to rely on links instead of actual files for the multitude of programs that they spend time and effort creating with this app.

Despite the issues, the Shortcuts community didn’t stop this week – and I put together a fun Overcast shortcut for members:

Categories
Apps Links Video Offsite

Walking through the Home app (with Joey Banks)

On Thursday March 25, I streamed with my designer friend Joey Banks and walked him through some of the oddities of the Home app, working on scenes, grouping devices, and HomeKit automations:

Catch the replay on YouTube – and add my livestream calendar to tune into future streams.

Categories
Siri Shortcuts

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 14

View the original issue.

This is the week! Once iOS 14.3 drops, millions of people will update their smartphones and suddenly be able to create their “app ideas” by adding them as shortcuts to their Home Screen.

The main change? The limitation where “custom icons always open into Shortcuts first” is now gone!

Shortcuts added to the Home Screen actually behave like you’d expect, opening into apps immediately – plus they run all the scripting actions perfectly, just like the Shortcuts widget.

I’ve tried to capture my excitement in a video – look for it soon on YouTube. But until then, here’s what’s new in Shortcuts this week:

Categories
Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 10

Originally posted as ”What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 10”sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 10 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

Hello all – the big news this week is the return of Set Wallpaper in the iOS 14.3 beta!

It was present in a handful of betas in early iOS 13 days, but was removed and hadn’t come back… until now. Hopefully Apple’s resolved any issues and smoothes out the process in future betas, but I’m excited for it to roll out to the wider community – I have a feeling it’ll be popular.

Other than that, I’ve got new tools for new devices, links to the beta actions on my site, and shortcuts for my new favorite app Craft – enjoy:

🍎 APPLE GEAR: ROUND 3

‘Tis the season for product releases and this last week (and the next) are no exception – here’s a handful of shortcuts for people with big phones and HomePod minis:

Categories
Siri Shortcuts Podcasts Offsite

Appearance – Clockwise #353: “Shortcuts Concierge”

I had the pleasure of being a guest on episode 353 of the Clockwise podcast from Relay FM, joining Brianna Wu, Jason Snell, and Dan Moren for a 30-minute round table discussion of the week’s news.

We talked about Apple silicon and what it means for gaming as well as whether we’ll be buying the first round of Macs, our beta-installation strategies, and how to use Shortcuts for public good.

Categories
Links

What is Spatial Audio, Why Does it Matter, and What’s Apple’s Plan?

Em Lazer-Walker, Cloud Advocate at Microsoft, on what she’s calling the “audio version of ARKit” in iOS 14:

They talked about this largely in context of playing movies with multi-channel surround sound, but that’s probably the least interesting application of spatial audio.

As someone who’s been working in the field for a long time — my research at the MIT Media Lab in 2015 and 2016 focused on location-based storytelling in public spaces using spatial audio — I wanted to try to give some context around why this is interesting and what it might enable.

Fascinating summary of Apple’s new Spatial Audio feature and its potential – this covers what it is, how it differs from surround sound, and goes into detailed applications for this like wayfinding, vocal content, and real-world play/gaming experiences.

Read the full post on dev.to.