What the Tech: The Best Shortcuts for Smartphones | News

If you’ve never opened the Shortcuts app on an iPhone or iPad, you’re missing out on some of the cool things you can do by tapping the screen once or asking Siri. What is a shortcut?

A shortcut takes a complex task and completes it with just one tap. There are shortcuts that listen to a song playing in the background and by tapping the shortcut it uses the Shazaam app to find the song and send it as a tweet or text.

Another shortcut makes a GIF of your latest live photo. Another starts playing an Apple Music playlist when the phone connects to your earbuds. Different earbuds get a different playlist.

Sure, you can calculate what to tip at a restaurant by taking the calculator and doing some math, but a shortcut will do it for you quickly.

Open the Shortcuts app and search “calculate tip”. Then enter the amount of the bill and the percentage you want to tip. The hotkey does the calculation and displays the tip amount and total.

The iPhone has many accessibility features, but where can you see them all? The iPhone’s Accessibility hotkey asks a series of questions, such as “are you visually impaired or hard of hearing?” The shortcut will then show you all the useful accessibility features that you can enable in the settings.

The “When should I leave” shortcut uses the address of your home and the address of your office. Then just ask Siri, “When do I have to leave?” Based on traffic reports, she will give you an extra 5 minutes to walk from the parking lot.

The “In case of emergency” shortcut allows someone to ask for help with a tap of the screen. It sends your location to anyone you add to the list with the message, “I’m pressing the emergency button, contact me immediately.”

One step further is the shortcut “Trapped by Police”. This one was released a few years ago. It sends your exact location to anyone you choose and starts recording video when you say “Siri, I’m being stopped by the police”. You can change the action phrase to anything you want. This one requires a bit of setup and I covered this in an earlier video in 2020 you can find here

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Once you have installed the shortcuts, you will find them in the Shortcuts app. You can also add them to the screen as an icon by hard pressing the shortcut and tapping “add to home screen”. You can also add a widget to the screen with the shortcuts you use most. You can do this by hard pressing an icon to select “edit home screen” and then swiping right along your first home screen. Then tap the “+” button at the top left. Scroll down until you see the “Shortcuts” widget. You can choose whether to add a widget for a single icon, a group of 4, or a larger group of 8. The widget displays the shortcuts you most recently used.

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