If there is one new use accessible technology from Apple in the past few years that shows the most promise, it’s Siri Shortcuts. These are easy to use, easy to create, and easy to manage shortcuts to get Siri to do some of your iOS dirty work.
All you need to do is tell Siri to do something– and you get to customize Siri so she or he responds to your query– and the deed is done. What’s the problem?
Siri? Siri? R U There?
I love Siri Shortcuts and they help to individualize Siri’s actions to handle everyday tasks with little more than a “Hey, Siri…” command. What’s not to like?
Siri is stupid. Or, maybe deaf. Or, both.
Siri has trouble with understanding basic commands, and cannot differentiate my voice from someone else’s voice. Siri does not understand context. As much as I like Siri Shortcuts and use them as frequently as possible, Siri herself causes most of the consternation I experience.
First, Siri on the Mac is stupid. It’s not the same Siri as on my iPhone. Ditto for HomePod. Not. The. Same. Second, Siri gets confused and will not always open apps that Siri herself knows exist on my devices.
The one that bothers me most is 2Do.app. I love Reminders, I have Things, I have passion for the 2Do.app that runs on Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Watch because it is both simple and elegant, and handles tasks, sub-tasks, and notifications with ease.
Siri hates 2Do.app.
Hey, Siri… Open 2Do
Half the time the app opens, the other half Siri wants to open Reminders instead. See the problem?
More and more of the applications I used on iPhone and iPad come with Siri Shortcuts, and word on the street says macOS will get them later this year. Even better, they can sync between devices, but none of that matters much if Siri cannot clearly understand a request to run a Shortcut.
Federico Viticci at MacStories was kind enough to make public his Shortcuts Archive of over 150 useful Shortcuts.
Anyone is free to download, modify, and redistribute shortcuts from the MacStories archive. Our shortcuts are provided for free and out of love for the Shortcuts automation community. In fact, we encourage readers to download shortcuts and optimize them to their needs.
Even if you have not used Siri Shortcuts much, you’ll find something useful in his Archive.
Siri’s problem remains regardless of how many Shortcuts you have. For example, I can hold my Watch Series 4 close to my mouth and that should implement the familiar Siri buzz on the wrist– Siri is listening.
Except that action does not work half the time, and so I’m required to say, “Hey, Siri…” to get her attention. That works on Watch about three of four times. The rest of the time Siri remains asleep. Tap and hold iPhone’s crown button and Siri wakes up. “Hey, Siri…” on iPhone responds better than Watch Series 4. Ditto for iPad. Mac? Not so much.
When Siri does respond about one of every four queries is not understood or incorrectly applied. Yes, I’m from Chicago and of Polish descent but my native accent is not that thick. Or, is it? And that brings up another problem. How do Apple customers who sport thicker than normal American standard English language accents use Siri for anything?
Siri was supposed to be a revolution in how we use our devices. Siri Shortcuts make it easier for users to manage their own Siri interface (so we don’t have to learn Siri’s commands, Siri learns ours) but Siri remains about as deaf and dumb as ever.