Siri Shortcuts, one of iOS 12’s tentpole features, is now available to select third-party developers for testing purposes. The feature will enable developers to create Siri voice triggers for specific features in their apps, expanding Apple’s digital personal assistant’s capabilities beyond their current limitations. As we noted shortly after the feature was announced, Shortcuts will give developers a reason to care about Siri again.
As of the first beta, Siri Shortcuts strongly resembles Workflow, an app Apple acquired last year alongside its DeskConnect development team. While the new app has adopted iOS 12’s user interface, it preserves most of the basic features, tabs, and section headings found in Workflow, notably including brightly colored automation buttons. The beta will automatically import workflows from the old Workflow app if it’s installed on the same device.
When Siri Shortcuts debuts in the fall, users will be able to create custom voice shortcuts to access specific features within apps, such as saying “Tell me what’s on the road to school” to access a Waze map to your college, or “Send a shout out to my friends” to text a canned message to a specific group of people. However, developers will need to specifically expose each app’s individual features for Siri, so a given app’s compatibility will depend upon new code and beta testing.
Without using the beta app, users and developers can try basic shortcuts right now in the Siri section of the Settings app; access to deeper functionality requires the Shortcuts app. In addition to working only when the testing device is unlocked, the first beta is missing some actions, has limitations on actions, and does not sync with iCloud.
Unlike iOS 12, which is now available in developer and public betas, developers interested in testing Siri Shortcuts need to specifically press the “Request” beta app access button in TestFlight, after logging into the Developer Center. Apple will notify developers of their approval status via email.