Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

The Back Page: Very useful Shortcuts for everyday practical usage (very practical!)

The real triumph of technology is to make a difference in people’s lives, and Apple has always made it clear that this is one of their highest goals. And personally, I think that the Siri Shortcuts features and attendant Shortcuts app that Apple is rolling out in iOS 12 could be the biggest improvement since people started Snapchatting sliced bread. (I’m not really up on the latest lingo.)

But while the sample shortcuts that Apple includes in its gallery are fine, I think users want to see more practical explanations of how these workflows can benefit them. We need to see concrete real-world shortcuts that people are going to use, not just proof of concepts like tea timers and image resizing.

Okay, I get it, if I’m going to demonstrate the usefulness of Shortcuts, I need to put my skills where my mouth is. So here are a handful of workflows that I’ve just whipped up on the spot that could have a huge impact on all of our daily lives.

Hey Siri, is this undercooked? Foodborne illness isn’t trivial. Best case scenario you might end up finding yourself in dire and urgent need of restroom facilities for a day or two. What if it could all be avoided by simply pointing your iPhone’s camera at that chicken cutlet, tapping this shortcut and having the result compared to the FDA’s food preparation guidelines.

That joke’s not funny We’ve all composed the perfect tweet, Facebook post, email, or Slack message only to realize––right after we sent it, naturally––that it actually was a bad idea. This shortcut could save us from this fate worse than death by parsing our composition and responding with simple emoji ratings: rolling on the floor laughing, expressionless face, or for the truly egregious, face with hand over mouth.

Random Hamilton Lyric Fitting in with a new social crowd can be tough, especially when everybody’s bonding over their favorite historical hip-hop musical sensation that you think is just fine, but not something you really need to memorize, I mean it’s no Newsies. Still, you don’t want to be left out, so just punch this shortcut and drop a classic lyric like, uh, “Alexander Hamilton.” Wait, it’s just his name? Seriously?

I saw a corgi! My understanding of modern society is that if you see a cute dog, you are obligated to share it with everybody you know. Look, I don’t make the rules, I just help you create shortcuts that embrace them. Anyway, this shortcut takes the last picture from your camera roll—presumably a corgi—and then sends it to a specified contact (or, by default, all of your contacts), along with a helpful message about the dog you saw.

Can I afford this avocado toast? Look, there’s no way Shortcuts is going to be allowed to access your banking info—it’s just not secure. So let’s go with the safe answer: “Not if you ever want to own a house.” Sad emoji sad emoji sad emoji.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]

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