“turned on iPhone on top of brown wooden surface” by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

Siri Shortcuts: The Best Part of iOS 12

Justin Cox
5 min readSep 21, 2018


Apple released iOS 12 on Monday afternoon. The software update included a number of amazing new features, like Screen Time and Memoji. But the best new feature is found in the App Store: Shortcuts.

A year ago, Apple acquired Workflow, an app that allowed user-generated automation on iOS. Apple immediately went to work adapting Workflow into what is now Shortcuts.

The app, backed by the power of Siri and integrated into every aspect of iOS, allows users to program Siri to accomplish pretty much anything imaginable. Each shortcut can be defined and set to trigger with custom Siri voice commands. Shortcuts sync across devices through iOS and can be run by any device Siri exists on — iOS devices, CarPlay, HomePod, etc.

I’ve been playing with Shortcuts all week and the app is insanely powerful. There is a robust gallery providing dozens of examples which can be implemented as-is or deconstructed to learn from.

To the right you’ll see the customized shortcut I created for recording my weight in the Health app. I took a very simple example from the gallery and pushed Shortcuts to the limit.

Let’s look at the various steps to learn just what Siri Shortcuts can do:

Section One: Randomized Greeting

The first step in the shortcut begins with a text block. I’ve included a few greetings, one per line. I’ve not discovered a limit to the number of lines you can include.

Following the text block with “Split Text”, set to separate new lines, tells Siri that each line in the text block are individual items. Next is “Get Item” which is set to random. This will pull a random line from the first text block.

The final step in this block, “Set Variable”, does exactly what it says: creates a variable with the random text string pulled from the sample.

In just a few steps, a completely randomized item is selected and set as a variable that can be used at any point throughout the shortcut.



Justin Cox

I help writers and nonprofits grow. Editor of The Writing Cooperative. Contact at JustinCox.com