Apple has been ruthlessly trying to integrate more and more functionalities that could be performed automatically by its Artificial Intelligence, Siri. At WWDC, Apple introduced the Siri Shortcuts app to unlock Siri’s potential by allowing users to create their own custom voice commands and workflows. Although it was positively received by the Apple user base, it caused some confusion regarding certain functionalities. On 30th October, 2018, Apple rolled out an updated version of the app called Siri Shortcuts 2.1 which has improved in its functionality and added new things to it.
Now, users can automate actions pertaining to timer and alarm using Siri, a feature that was confusing to implement in the previous versions. The new actions include “Create Alarm,” “Toggle Alarm,” and “Start Timer” – all of three of which can be seamlessly added to the Siri Shortcuts app. The request would often come up in Apple’s support site, and the new release addresses this problem.
Actions pertaining to weather are useful to users who thrive on creating morning routines with Siri Shortcuts. The new “Get Current Weather” and “Get Weather Forecast” actions enables users to add such shortcuts to the app, and enables users to ask for current conditions, forecasts (hourly, daily or 10 days out), or for any specific condition – like the humidity, chance of rain, air quality, and more. Being able to ask for this sort of information is already among the top use cases for voice assistants, like Alexa and Google Assistant, so it makes sense to offer these sorts of commands to Siri Shortcuts users, as well.
Other new actions include the ability to convert between several units from the “Measurement” and “Convert Measurement” actions, which would be helpful for U.S. citizens visiting Europe and other countries that embrace the metric system. For people who use the Photos app, the “Get Last Import” action enables them to retrieve the most recent set of imported photos.
Off late, a user-created shortcut called “Police” received attention, as it allowed a user to speak a verbal command that performed a series of actions. The actions included sending messages to a friend, adjusting the brightness of the phone, turning up and down the volume of the phone, and start recording a video. The last one has been added as an independent shortcut in the latest version of the app, and can be activated using the “Take Video” action.
Users can, nonetheless, tweak the Police app to add new functionalities. The latest update has made things easier for users who were not comfortable using its predecessor, Workflow. For users familiar with building routines in Workflow, the new additions to the shortcut app will not mean much.
Siri Shortcuts version 2.1 is the first major update following the app’s release with iOS 12. The update also fixes a problem with using Siri Shortcuts with Homepod. It will now automatically play back media from the HomePod over AirPlay, when you run the shortcut from HomePod via Siri – which just makes more sense.
Apple hopes more mainstream users are exposed to Siri’s expanded powers through the use of their favorite app. A number of top developers, including Pandora, Sky Guide, Google News, and Trello have joined the bandwagon of updating their apps with “Add to Siri” buttons that point out special tasks their apps can perform by way of voice.