Federico Viticci and the MacStories team are sharing a massive library, encompassing a whopping 150 Shortcuts! 150 Shortcuts in 20 categories is a lot of work – they worked on these not only during the lifetime of the Shortcuts app, but back when Workflow was still a thing.
You can find the archive at macstories.net/shortcuts. In this first version, the archive contains 150 shortcuts, but more will be posted over time. Each shortcut was created and tested by me and the MacStories team; all of them have been categorized, updated for the Shortcuts app, and marked up with inline comments to explain what they do.
Even better, they’re all free to download and you can modify them to suit your needs.
What’s more, in a truly open source manner, Federico encourages us to remix his work.
I encourage MacStories readers to feel free to modify, remix, and share shortcuts with others. Everyone’s needs are different and I can only provide a template with my shortcuts. Ultimately, you’ll have to understand how the Shortcuts app and Siri can help you on a daily basis. The way I see it, Shortcuts is the modern bicycle for the mind; it’s up to you to decide where to go with it.
Apparently people love the MacStories Shortcuts Archive – it has been downloaded ~38,000 times in less than 24 hours!
Don’t forget that with great power comes great responsibility. Always review what steps are included in given Shortcut, just to be sure there is nothing suspicious going on with your data.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Mayo wrote an interesting piece about Shortcuts triggered by voice commands and how this system – flexible at first glance – is really rigid.
Shortcuts require registration and administration to do anything at all with Siri. The user has to pre-emptively search out every command available in a certain app and then add each in turn to Siri. Registration requires the user to think up the phrase they want to use to trigger the command on the spot. Siri can then trigger these actions when that same phrase is said back to it at a later date.
There is no intelligence here. Siri transcribes the user’s voice and looks for an exact text match of that phrase in the database of voice shortcut phrases that the user has generated off their own back. If a match is found, it proceeds. Otherwise, failure. (…)
That’s the point, there is no understanding. The Siri interpreter has no understanding of semantics or meaning when you are interacting with an app shortcut. It is a dictionary text lookup and nothing more.
It is disappointing that Apple is leaning so heavily on shortcuts as a mainstream way for customers to get more from Siri. It flies in the face of how you want a voice assistant to work and behaves differently from every other type of Siri interaction. When you ask Siri for the weather, you can say ‘What’s the weather?’ or ‘What’s the weather on Friday?’ or ‘tell me the forecast’ or ‘do I need to wear sunglasses?’ or just ‘weather’. The whole point is the user does not have to revise a set list of triggers. Apple has made entire ad campaigns to this effect, promoting the flexibility. Forget custom variables, the Shortcuts system cannot support multiple ways of saying the same thing. A truly good voice assistant does not require the user to remember something.
Read the entire piece – Mayo discusses Siri domains and intentions, a more flexible and user-friendly solution, but one that requires more work from Apple.
Apple Music vs The Others
If you ever wondered how Apple Music stacks up against the competition, MacRumors prepared four articles, where it compares Apple Music with Spotify, Tidal, Google Play Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited. Every review has the same outline – you’ll find prices, trials, streaming quality, and a comparison of mobile and desktop apps, among others.
On top of that, we could add information on how Apple Music and other services are treating the artists. Specifically, Apple is the only company not fighting a royalty increase for songwriters. Bravo!
This week also brought the release of PlayOff by Martin Powlette Jr which gives us something Apple should have done a long time ago: Handoff support for Apple Music.
One last piece of Apple Music news in this issue – here’s Apple’s curated playlist, celebrating International Women’s Day.
Nintendo made a bold move to avoid damaging their reputation by asking the developers to cut down on in-game microtransactions. In a spot-on comment, David Barnard compares this situation to Apple and the App Store.
I worry that 20 years from now Apple’s drive for services revenue at the cost of customer experience will be seen as the beginning of the end. Nintendo is playing the long game.
I do think there’s hope. It’s a small thing, but I was impressed that Apple made subscription management easier to find on the App Store. They are listening. Now let’s see if they make any big moves at WWDC that improve user experience even at the cost of short-term revenue.
Apple cracking down on tricky subscriptions is another encouraging sign. That is directly costing them services revenue.