Monday, September 17, 2018

The Shortcuts App

One of iOS 12's headlining features is Shortcuts. Shortcuts, in my eyes, is Apple's alternative to giving us a SiriKit, which would let developers make Siri commands freely, without the restrictions Apple puts on today. Shortcuts do not pull this off well. If I start laundry and I need a timer for 25 minutes, I could ask Siri to set a timer for 25 minutes. If I make a shortcut so all I need to say is "set a timer for the laundry," then that sounds cleaner on paper. Apple's own example recipe for this consists of sending a notification through the Reminders app to let me know my laundry is done. There is no function to set a timer, so their solution is to send a reminder. Really? With a timer, I can see how much time is left on the lock screen, and I get an alarm that keeps beeping until I acknowledge it. With a Reminder notification, I get a buzz in my pocket and nothing else. A buzz that is no different than a Twitter update. Given that Apple has access to the whole operating system, and that they made this workflow, you'd think they would make a timer. I think what's more boggling is the fact that this is one of the more practical use cases, and it is still terrible. Here are just a few impractical use cases: downloading a file from a URL copied to your clipboard, creating custom date format patterns, and playing the entire album of the song you are currently listening to. Most of these are either redundant or so impractical, I would never create a shortcut for them in the first place. Why would I need a shortcut to take a picture if I can already get to the camera from the lock screen? And all of this is disregarding the sloppy execution of it all. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go ahead and try it out for yourself. The app is riddled with discontinuity when running slightly more complex workflows.

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