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Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 30

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 30sign up for the newsletter here.

Hello folks,

Next Tuesday, Apple will be hosting a “Spring Foward” event – and we’ll likely see iOS 14.5 come out alongside anything new.

With that, we’ll get three new actions in Shortcuts:

  1. Set Orientation Lock
  2. Set Voice and Data
  3. Take Screenshot

Below, I’ve got a few shortcuts you can use to take advantage of those, plus a few links from the community:

🆕 NEW FROM ME THIS WEEK

The new actions in iOS 14.5 are a bit odd to implement at first, but here’s some ideas for you:

  • Turn Orientation Lock Off
    Seemingly most useful inside Automations, Shortcuts now has an Orientation Lock action – letting you set per-app Orientation Lock controls using the Open App and Close App automations. Use this shortcut inside a Run Shortcut (or just search for the action) and set one automation for all the Open App options, then another for Close App – you can select multiple apps at once for the trigger.
  • Reader Mode
    I also created a standalone use case for Orientation Lock with Reader Mode, a shortcut designed for iPad for locking your device in portrait orientation and opening the News app – I’ve also added this as an option to my iPad Settings shortcut already available for members.
  • Data Controls
    New to the free portion of the Catalog, I’ve added a shortcut called Data Controls that takes advantage of the third action new in iOS 14.5: Set Voice and Data. This action lets you toggle between full 5G, 5G Auto (depending on service), and 4G modes, as well as change between SIMs if applicable – my shortcut makes it easy to switch between modes, plus includes a series of deep links into various Settings pages for options related to cell data, hotspots, and network settings.
  • Reminder Screenshot
    Another new action in iOS 14.5 is Take Screenshot, which I admittedly found hard to visualize how to use at first, but I eventually realized it’d be useful for saving screenshots and immediately creating a reminder. The idea here is to actually act on those screenshots rather than store them, so this doesn’t even save it to Photos at all – now part of the free collection as well.

Coming next week for members: a complete Screenshots workflow + a stream to walk you through setting it all up!

🔗 LINKS SINCE LAST TIME

This week we’ve got new actions in Toolbox Pro, a way to use Automations to read more, and how to analyze website data on iOS:

  • New media actions in Toolbox Pro
    I forgot to link to this when it came out, but Shortcuts power user app Toolbox Pro has added new actions for finding rich media results for Movies, TV, Books, & Games – download the app and unlock all the actions for $5.99.
  • App Automations for Mindfulness
    Joseph Lam has shared a great Automation tip on Twitter – he has an App automation set for multiple apps like Twitter and YouTube that, when opened, will prompt him to potential choose to read instead – if so it opens Books, and otherwise does nothing. I love these kinds of mindfulness shortcuts, as they can provide gentle nudges towards better behavior (especially when you’re the one choosing to set it up).
  • Website analytics in Shortcuts form
    Anders Borum has an awesome solution for combining his app Shellfish along with Scriptable and Charty to create a shortcut that pulls logs from your website, processes the data, and charts it so you can track sources of where people have visited – check out the shortcut to see how the JavaScript works as well as the connections between apps.

📲 SHORTCUTS SPOTLIGHT

Getting the Contents of Communication automations

Did you know that with Shortcuts’ newest Automations–Email and Messages–you can use the Shortcut Input variable to retrieve the contents of the email and message?
While the Automations do not run in the background without asking, you can set up Automations that will ask when the message is received and, when run from the notification, can extract the body of the communication.

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 30

I’ve set this up as an example with a daily email I get called Flow State, which provides links to a new artist or newly-curated music every day – my automation shows the body of the email quickly in a prompt, then presents the links for me to both save to Reading List as well as open the first in the bunch.

That way, when the email comes in, I can quickly read about the new music, then save only the links to Apple Music out of the bunch, as well as open the first option to listen to right away.

Read about “Communication triggers” in the Shortcuts User Guide.

Categories
Apps Links Offsite Video

Walking through the Home app (with Joey Banks)

Tomorrow, Thursday March 25, I’ll be streaming with my designer friend Joey Banks and walking him through some of the oddities of the Home app, working on scenes, grouping devices, and HomeKit automations:

Play

Join us on YouTube – and add my livestream calendar to tune into future streams.

Categories
Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 26

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 26sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 26 “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

Hello all!

If you’re in the US, you might feel a little wobbly thanks to Daylight Saving Time – or if you’re somewhere it’s not used, all your US-based media just moved around an hour.

Thankfully I’ve got a new Daily Health shortcut that includes easier access to your Sleep data, as well as a way to set your alarms by the sunrise – I find I can’t help but wake up then anyways, so might as well get to sleep on time too!

Beyond that, there are some YouTube videos on Shortcuts for you to watch, as well as a challenge for you at the end:

🆕 NEW THIS WEEK

I’m back on YouTube, members can get their Automation goodness, and better Daily Health is on the way:

Categories
Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 21

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 21sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 21 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

After the amazing results from the survey I sent around, I’ve made a few changes to this newsletter – first by moving it to Wednesday afternoon (PST) instead of Sunday evenings.

I’m also going to create less single-serving shortcuts and fewer but more powerful shortcuts that solve particular use cases & provide more continued utility over time.

In many ways, it’ll be the same content, condensed into bigger shortcuts that handle multiple tasks in one tool.

In addition, I’ll be taking some of the writing here and building it out more on my blog & other channels, then linking back to that each week – for example, I’ll be pausing my Scripting series here and turning it into more useful blog posts.

That being said, you’ll still see lots of inklings of future content in the newsletter in smaller tips as we go.

Thank you so much for being a subscriber and/or a member – with this helpful feedback and my new approach, I’m truly more excited than ever to synthesize and translate what I know into useful resources for you all!

🗓 NEW THIS WEEK

This week I’ve got two new shortcuts available–one for the public and one for members only — plus I’m doing a livestream this afternoon:

Categories
Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 20

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 20sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 20 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

This week was somewhat quiet on the Shortcuts front – there’s likely a new version of iOS coming out soon so we’re in the calm before the storm – but that won’t stop us from having fun with it.

This week I’ve got a set for better note-taking habits, working through Item actions in the Scripting category, links to Automations, some of my streaming shortcuts, and handwriting shortcuts for Members:

📝 TAKING NOTE OF WHAT’S TO COME

As we’re headed into the last week of January, I wanted to help reinforce the building of new habits aided by technology – especially with a bit of smarts built in so there’s no setup required:

Categories
Links Siri Shortcuts

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.”

Categories
Tips & Tricks

Automating how loud Siri replies on the HomePod

HomePod portrait

I’m a huge fan of the HomePod – after bearing the investment cost, it’s improved my daily interactions with music and opened access to controlling my smart home gear, plus provides a new medium for everything I’ve built in the Shortcuts app.

But one of the nagging problems with HomePod is the way Siri, regardless of the current time of day, will respond loudly at whatever volume you’ve previously set.

Whether it’s the middle of the night or super early in the morning, it’s all too common to ask Siri something and the answer shouted backed at you, only because you listened to music loudly sometime yesterday. Hopefully nobody wakes up, you curse at how dumb your supposedly “smart” speaker can be, and frantically try to turn it down.

Thankfully, iOS 13.2 provides a route to a solution by adding HomePods and AppleTV to scenes and automations – the HomePod didn’t fix this on its own, but, with a Home Automation, you can make it “smart” enough yourself.1