Apple released iOS 16 on Monday and with it the latest update to its Siri Shortcuts feature, this time making App Shortcuts automatically available to users when they install supported apps. With App Shortcuts, users can speak trigger phrases for the now pre-created no-setting shortcuts found in the Shortcuts app, which act as pre-programmed Siri commands for whatever you might want to do in that app.
As I wrote at the beginning of the summer, App Shortcuts are Apple’s big bet on Siri, shifting from a top-down model of setting “intents” in specific categories that Apple needs to build in advance and mapping a path for certain types of apps to work with Siri. Now, the App Intents feature that triggers app shortcuts gives developers control, defines every way their app can be used with Siri and automatically creates each toggle for that action as individual shortcuts for the user.
With iOS 16 now live (and iOS 16 review ready for you, that is, the review), and developers launching their own app shortcuts into the wild, here’s how you can expect to see more Siri Shortcuts throughout your experience, as well as how best to take advantage of what’s possible.
New app shortcuts in the Shortcuts app will appear under the newly renamed Custom shortcuts section below the icons for apps that have supported the new APIs – if your app doesn’t support App Shortcuts, be sure to request the feature directly from the developer.
Developers define the set of functions that app shortcuts will support, and each function can have multiple variations of the same term – in theory, this means you can say the same trigger phrase with different keywords to Siri, and ideally, the app should have the correct option selected .
Each group of app shortcuts has a prompt to add the group to Siri, which is also available to toggle on/off again under the info icon on the same screen.
In addition, if you click the “…” button on the shortcut, you can click “Use in a new shortcut” to add it as a custom shortcut, where you can add additional steps, change the name, and then put it in the Shortcuts widget.
In order to detect your app shortcuts in the original app experience, Apple has also made Siri hints for developers to appear somewhat unnoticeable at relevant moments, such as after the actual action used in the shortcut has been taken.
Developers can also set up custom pages in their apps settings to display all of their shortcuts, plus Apple has introduced a stylized shortcuts button to link back to that app’s app shortcuts page.
Furthermore, you can check available shortcuts from any app by asking Siri “What can I do here?” You will answer with possible options.
App shortcuts are also a notable addition to Spotlight Search, which in itself is even more important thanks to Apple’s replacement of Home screen indicators with a search field on the iPhone.
In iOS 16, individual shortcuts from an app’s App Shortcuts will appear in search results, taking up a small bar below the main app results – this gives iOS a command-line-like tool for typing specific commands and pressing enter to take that action.
It’s the world of Siri Shortcuts now
Whether you’re familiar with Siri or a Shortcuts user, it’s clear that Apple continues to put its weight behind Siri Shortcuts as a system feature.
Not only did Shortcuts expand as a platform to the Mac, but Apple followed up with the launch of its original Siri Shortcuts with an improved version that avoids presets, integrates more authentically with app experiences, and works better with Siri in general.
It was actually quite confusing with Apple launching the feature as Siri Shortcuts and then talking mostly only about the Shortcuts app as an automation platform, only now to boost Siri’s side significantly again.
This year, Apple really reminded us that Shortcuts are part of Siri, and that the entire suite of tools is more than just a feature for power users who spend time setting it up — Siri Shortcuts are available to everyone, every app, and every device.
Now, I can’t wait to see where Apple takes things next.