Apple showed off a new trick for its Siri assistant on Monday, with a new tool that lets you essentially "program" the virtual assistant to do things that ordinarily would require you to poke around in various apps.
It's called Shortcuts, and the idea is that you can tell Siri to do something for you — like ordering your morning coffee, finding your lost keys or making restaurant reservations — when you say customised trigger phrases.
For example, you can add a shortcut that will alert Siri to find your keys via Bluetooth tracking service Tile simply by saying "Hey Siri, I lost my keys." You'll also be able to simply switch on shortcut settings for the apps of your choosing that will send reminders to your lock screen without having to send a voice prompt.
The feature will be included in next month's iOS 12 update, which Apple showcased at its annual developers conference on Monday. And with Siri increasingly looking behind the times compared to voice-based assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant, Shortcuts should make Siri much more useful to iPhone users and owners of the Apple Home smart speaker.
Here's how it will work:
The idea is that you can add a shortcut to any app you use, making your day-to-day routines easier.
Just by giving a voice prompt and without having to navigate into the Tile app, Siri will alert the service to ping the device on your keys and help you find them.
Siri will learn your usual orders from food apps, in this case a Mint Mojito coffee from Philz, and remind you on your lock screen to order a morning caffeine boost from your phone.
Instead of searching for your travel itinerary in various places on your phone, you can simply say "travel plans" and all of your information will pop up.
So a shortcut is basically just a group of steps that will activate when prompted by the iPhone user's voice.
The app will also include a gallery of suggested pre-made shortcuts you can download like a Morning Routine shortcut, which reminds you when to leave based on morning travel time.