Mike Becky

Questions Regarding Shortcuts for iOS

Shortcuts on Stage at WWDC

Last week, at WWDC, Apple announced Shortcuts for iOS. The app seems positioned to replace Workflow and I’m very excited to get my hands on it. I think Shortcuts is going to be a game-changer — something that will be looked back on as one of the most important features to ever ship on iOS. But I still have some unanswered questions that I’d like to share:

  • Does this enable Siri support for any action or interaction within any app?
  • With Shortcuts in iOS 12, could apps like Spotify give users the ability to start playback of any song in their library through Siri?
  • Are Shortcuts shareable?
  • Will we have a Shortcuts today widget?
  • Can we add shortcuts to the home screen?
  • Will there be any way to migrate workflows to Shortcuts?
  • Is there support for building action extensions?
  • Will Shortcuts feature all of the same actions as Workflow including all of the third-party application actions?
  • Does Shortcuts have a URL scheme for initiating shortcuts from other apps?
  • Will Shortcuts sync over iCloud?

I think Shortcuts is the biggest announcement coming out of WWDC this year. It’s basically the dream scenario for Workflow fans that were concerned about the future of the app. But the above questions have me tempering my expectations. I’d love to find out that Shortcuts is just a drop-in replacement for Workflow, but there’s a part of me that’s worried that it has regressed in some way. Hopefully we’ll have answers to all of these questions soon.

Update: Matthew Cassinelli, former Workflow employee, kindly replied on Twitter with answers to many of the questions. Here’s the key takeaways:

  • Developers will be able to build Shortcuts for just about anything in their app, but these shortcuts can’t accept user input.
  • You’ll be able to create shortcuts to songs in Spotify, as long as they add support for it, but you won’t be able to play any arbitrary song.
  • The app will have a Today widget.
  • Existing workflows will migrate automatically.
  • The app should sync over iCloud, but implementation details are unclear.