Tag Archive for ‘Automation’

Custom Actions in Control Center

Control Center Setup

A fully customizable Control Center has been on my iOS wishlist for years. Apple’s done a lot to head in that direction since first introducing the feature, but there’s a lot more that could be done. The ability to add your own shortcuts would be the biggest win. And while that isn’t something that’s directly supported, there is a workaround that I’ve recently started using on my iPhone and iPad.

There are two Control Center controls that are key here — Calculator and Voice Memos. Those simply launch the corresponding app and they happen to be two apps that I don’t use. But I can still use these to my advantage by pairing them with the Shortcut app’s automations feature.

I’ve setup an automation that will connect to my AirPods and use them as the audio output of my device. I could do this through the Now Playing section of Control Center, but that section is frequently displaying playback information from my Apple TV and I’d end up having to perform five taps to switch to my device’s controls and switch audio outputs — with the automation, it’s just a single tap.

Shortcuts Personal Automation

You can add Voice Memos or Calculator to Control Center (as long as the apps are installed) from within the Control Center section of the system’s Settings app. And to setup the automation, you can do the following:

  • Navigate to the Automation tab within Shortcuts.
  • Tap on the + button and select “Create Personal Automation”.
  • Scroll down and select the “App” automation type.
  • Make sure “Opened” is checked, select the Calculator or Voice Memos apps, and tap “Next”.
  • From there we’ll need to add the necessary actions. I’ve added “Select Playback Destination” and configured it for my AirPods and then added a “Go to Homescreen” action to exit the Voice Memos app.
  • Tap on “Next” and you’ll likely want to disable “Ask Before Running” on the next screen. This will configure the automation to simply run without having to prompt you first.
  • Tap on “Done” and enjoy the additional functionality in Control Center.

These instructions are for my AirPods automation, but you can add whatever actions you’d like to achieve the functionality you want in Control Center — switching between 5G and LTE is another useful idea that comes to mind.

I’d like to see Apple add a “Show in Control Center” option within each shortcut’s settings. This workaround gets the job done, but it is a bit of a hack. If Apple actually implemented it into the system, it would be a significantly slicker experience and would do a lot to promote automation on the platform.

Shortcuts and iOS Upgrades

Error in Shortcuts

Over the past few years, each major iOS upgrade has brought a world of trouble for me in the Shortcuts app. One of the primary reasons I was able to switch to iOS as my main platform in 2015 was because of Workflow/Shortcut’s ability to smooth out the rough edges.

But I need those shortcuts to be reliable. I don’t want to rebuild my shortcuts every single year because something changed that broke them. I don’t have that kind of time and it leaves me wondering whether I should even bother anymore — if Shortcuts isn’t reliable for me, why try to rely on it?

This time it’s the Post to WordPress action. It keeps throwing errors about a file not existing. But I’m not passing any files into the action, I’m just feeding text into it. I’ve tested every single variable that the action is touching with Quick Look and everything appears exactly as expected. But Post to WordPress keeps throwing errors anyway.

For now, I’m writing on my iPad and then publishing from my iPhone, which is still running iOS 14 where the shortcut works just fine. But long-term, I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing. I don’t want to keep fixing my shortcuts each year and because of the issue I’m having with it, I don’t even know what I could do to fix. But, it’s the smoothest and most streamlined publishing workflow I’ve ever had when it works. I don’t want to go back to writing in the WordPress editor or transition to publishing through Ulysses directly because it’s just a bit more clunky than I want to fuss with.

I’ve heard from some others after I vented my frustration on Mastodon, so I know I’m not the only one. What I’d like to see is Apple get their act together and improve backwards compatibility with shortcuts with iOS upgrades. But their recent track record hasn’t been too great in my eyes. Apple continues to make decisions that are so far off the mark from what I would prefer. I’m not particularly optimistic, to say the least.

Shortcuts for Mac: The Future Is Now ➝

A great piece by John Voorhees on Shortcuts coming to the Mac, including some quotes by prominent developers sharing their thoughts.

➝ Source: macstories.net

Apple Shortcuts Is Great, but It Needs a Notification Toggle ➝

I can understand Apple wanting Shortcuts to display something when one is run — it’s good to be aware of what your system is doing. And I’m sure it would be awfully confusing if your iPhone was doing something unexpected and you didn’t know why. But I think the notifications that are shown by Shortcuts today is just too obtrusive.

Maybe we need a smaller icon in the status bar — something akin to Automator’s gear icon on macOS. The status bar is a bit crowded, but I think the system could temporarily replace one of those icons with a gear to indicate that a shortcut is running.

(Via MacStories.)

➝ Source: theverge.com

The Mac Needs Shortcuts ➝

Jason Snell:

It’s clear to me now: Apple needs to make Shortcuts available everywhere. It’s the logical successor to Automator, and already does more than Automator—and better, too. Apple should hide Automator away somewhere for a while for compatibility reasons, but otherwise embrace Shortcuts on the Mac.

Seriously. Shortcuts is the only automation tool that really clicked for me. I use Automator and Alfred on the Mac, but mostly with automations that someone else built. And the ones I have built are pretty basic.

➝ Source: sixcolors.com

Shortcuts Wishlist ➝

Jordan Merrick:

Shortcuts has gained plenty of features and functionality over the years, especially after Apple’s acquisition of Workflow, but how shortcuts are created and organized has remained almost unchanged since the app first launched back in 2015.

As a result, creating shortcuts like Mocktail is a painstaking and frustrating process. The app simply hasn’t scaled with the increasingly complex uses for shortcuts and the interface is still skewed towards simple shortcuts made up of only a few actions.

After spending what felt like an eternity updating Mocktail, I’ve come up with a wishlist of ten improvements I’d love to see in Shortcuts.

A great list from Jordan here — copying actions, backups/versioning, and the ability to share shortcuts as files are my favorite of the bunch. But I’d add Apple Watch support to the list as well. Specifically the ability to display a shortcut on your Apple Watch Face as a complication, which could be configured per shortcut with a toggle switch next to “Show in Widget” and “Show in Share Sheet”.

➝ Source: jordanmerrick.com

Jordan Merrick Retires His GitHub Shortcuts Directory ➝

Jordan Merrick has decided to move his shortcuts directory to his own site because Shortcuts no longer allows you to import the .shortcut files that he had been storing on GitHub:

All of my shortcuts are being made available on my site and can be found at a dedicated Shortcuts page. Although I write blog posts for some of them, I’ve created plenty of shortcuts which I’ve never blogged about. That isn’t going to change but any time I create a new shortcut that I think others might find useful, at the very least I’ll publish it here.

I understand why Apple made that decision — if there was a malicious shortcut going around, since they can only be shared with an iCloud link, Apple would have the ability to remove the shortcut from their server and prevent it from spreading further.

But this limitation makes backing up your shortcuts a major pain. If you build a shortcut to automatically backup all of your shortcuts to iCloud links and then save the links into a notes app, you have to tap through a prompt for every single shortcut you have.

Thankfully Jordan linked to a shortcut that lets you import .shortcut files into the Shortcuts app. So I’ve returned to backing up my shortcuts as files and will utilize the .shortcut importer if I ever have to restore anything.

➝ Source: jordanmerrick.com

YouTube Audio to Overcast Update ➝

An update to my YouTube To Overcast shortcut, thanks to Xipeng Li on Twitter. He updated the shortcut adding a “Get Name” action to pull the title of the video and use it to automatically populate the file name prompt. I made a minor adjustment to his version — changing the file name formatting — and you can find my latest version of the shortcut here.

➝ Source: initialcharge.net