iOS 12: What you need to know about Siri’s new Shortcuts feature – CNET

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One of the more intriguing features Apple announced on Monday, June 4, at WWDC is a major update to Siri. Specifically, Siri Shortcuts, a feature that combines notifications, learning and voice commands to make Apple’s personal assistant do a lot more for you.

Shortcuts has the potential to even the playing field for Siri with its rivals Google Assistant and Alexa, but you’re going to have to put in some work. 

As a reminder, iOS 12 is currently available in beta. It’s likely that features will change and look different by the time it’s released this fall. We will update this article as needed until then.

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Siri shortcuts

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

There are a few different shortcut methods for Siri in iOS 12, the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system, coming this fall. Siri will automatically identify common tasks or use your location and calendar to identify when you’re running late. In turn, the idea is that you’ll find notifications on your lock screen to order your usual morning cup of coffee, or to send a text message to a meeting organizer if you’re running late.

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Personalized shortcuts

You can create your own Siri commands too, either within a third-party application or Siri’s section of the Settings app, to carry out specific tasks without any further interaction on your part. 

For example, Apple demonstrated using the Kayak travel app and asking to create a Siri shortcut during the WWDC keynote. The presenter was able to set a shortcut called Travel Plans. Then she triggered Siri, saying, “Travel plans,” and Siri immediately began reciting her hotel address and check-in time.

The same sort of shortcuts is available for actions such as sending a text message or starting a playlist at the gym. 

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Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

A dedicated Shortcuts app

There will be a dedicated Shortcuts app for iOS users this fall. The app looks a lot like Apple’s Workflow app, which it acquired in early 2017. Through the Shortcuts app, you’ll be able to create your own shortcuts to do things like sending a text, turning on a podcast and getting directions home, all at once. 

The app itself is currently available to developers who have installed the iOS 12 beta. Because Apple is integrating Shortcuts at the system level, the entire experience is smoother than Workflow had previously allowed. For example, you can create a Shortcut that is triggered via the Share Sheet, say in the Photos app, that combines a couple of images — this was always possible with Workflow. However, with iOS 12 and the Shortcuts app itself, you can now assign a phrase that will trigger Siri to complete the task for you. 

A new website has already launched, created by a group of users who have access to the Shortcuts app, where users are sharing Shortcuts created in the app. When you have the Shortcuts app installed, you can add shared Shortcuts from friends, or from sites like this, to your device. 

Across all Apple devices

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Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

While it appears the primary way to create and set up Siri Shortcuts will be an iPhone ($1,000 at Cricket Wireless) or iPad ($329 at Walmart), you can use Siri voice Shortcuts on any device where Siri is available.

That means MacOS computers, iOS devices, the Apple Watch ($470 at Amazon Marketplace) and HomePod ($349 at Walmart).

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Update, July 10 at 10:45 a.m.: Updated with new information in Shortcuts app section.