At WWDC 2018 Apple promised to smarten Siri up for iOS 12 and, keeping to its word, the company has released a beta version of the Siri Shortcuts app via TestFlight to selected third parties.
Developers looking to take the new IFTTT-like app for a test drive can request access by logging into the Developer Center, following which, Apple will send a handful of testers an email notification granting permission.
The feature will allow developers to create a single Siri voice command to trigger off a series of automated functions.
The idea behind Siri Shortcuts, which is based on the Workflow app Apple acquired in 2017, is to expand automation beyond HomeKit to all aspects of iOS 12.
When it was announced in June, Apple used the example of a “I’m heading home” phrase, which then automatically triggered the sending of a text to a specific contact, switched on the thermostat and a fan, presented the user with travel time for the journey home, and started playing a radio station.
In iOS 11, this entire process takes several individual voice commands.
In essence, with Shortcuts, setting up multi-step automation through third-party apps should become a lot easier for the average iOS user.
There's always a 'but'...
Apple has warned that the beta version currently has limited and missing actions, doesn’t yet have iCloud syncing, and will not be able to open apps if the iPhone is locked. However, testers already using Workflow will see their existing shortcuts automatically migrated to the new app.
It is as yet unclear whether there will be a public beta released before its official launch later this year, but this first beta is open only to developers.