Monday, 24 September 2018

My Siri Shortcut Testing Notes



Siri Short-Cuts


Short Cuts let you get things done either via suggestions within Settings/Siri & Suggestions on iPhone or iPad or the Short Cuts app to create your own Short Cuts or use/modify the sample shortcuts within the Shortcuts app.


Within the Settings, Siri & Search screen you have the following:


Heading - Siri Shortcuts


My Shortcuts XX button (mine is currently 32).


Can go in to this and list all of your current Shortcuts plus their phrases.


Heading -Suggested Shortcuts.


Lists several suggested Shortcuts.


All Shortcuts button (lists all possible apps that offer Shortcuts or multiple shortcuts within an app).

This is the end of the Siri Shortcuts section, rest of screen is the usual Siri Setup & Search  screen.


Siri Shortcuts will work on all iOS devices sort of including: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Apple Watch, and HomePod.  Some Siri Shortcuts are app specific and may only run on iPhone or iPad (eg not the HomePod or Apple Watch).  Of course, you will need iOS 12 or watch OS 5.


Once you have created a Siri Shortcut, it will automatically (keep in mind the above) work across all your devices.  Just say the Shortcut Phrase and off it will go.  Eg with the Tile App for tracking my Tile tags on my keys etc, I can say on my iPhone, HomePod or Apple Watch - Hey Siri “find Davids Keys” and a sound will play on the tag on my keys.


I’ve found so far, that there has been no need to use the Shortcuts app besides grabbing the Activity Report sample Shortcut and the Make Top 25 Play List from the gallery.


Sometimes you will need to enable Siri Shortcuts within apps such as Overcast, The Tile app.  Other apps appear not to need this setting such as Google News, They will come up automatically within Siri & Search/All Shortcuts.


Some apps that support Siri Shortcuts have multiple functions within the Settings, Siri & Suggestions, All Shortcuts, there is a See All button that you can expand all Shortcuts for the app.


The All Shortcuts button allows a fair bit of flexibility in choosing app functions without having to actually use the Shortcuts app itself.


When you do use a sample Shortcut from the Shortcut app, you still seem to need to go in to Siri & Search, edit the added shortcut and add a phrase to activate it.


The Shortcuts app is not on your iOS device by default, you’ll have to download it from the iOS App Store: just search for Shortcuts or use the following link:


Useful Links to find About Siri Shortcuts


Shortcuts User Guide from Apple


60 Apps that Works with Siri Shortcuts


Suggested apps to try


These are the Apps that I have tested and used.


From the Shortcut app itself:


Activity report


Give Me My Activity Report


This is an interactive shortcut, you can choose the source of the report, for me, I choose my Apple Watch rather than the default which is the iPhone.


Make Top 25 Play List


Usually Siri will grumble about not being able to create play lists, but this will compile a list of your most top 25 played items.  After you have run the shortcut, you can then just say play Top 25 Play List.


3rd Party Apps


Carrot Weather


Just Press Record


My Tuner Radio Australia




Tripview Sydney and Melbourne


Voice Dream Reader


Water Minder


Inbuilt apps with Siri Shortcuts


Apps such as Find My Friends (with specific names), Safari (with specific web urls), Voice Memo etc all come in very handy as well.


Siri Shortcuts so far


These are the Siri Shortcuts I have crated and used so far: most particularly Water Minder, Tripview Sydney, and Safari.


Carrot Weather


Mad Dogs And English Men


Gives me the weather, again, the default phrase for this app was being taken over by Siri and using the usual weather info.  The Phrase I used just came from “Mad dogs and English men go out in the midday sun.


Google News


See My Briefing




Open Talking Tech Website

Open My Podbean Website


Find My Friends


Find Ellen


Just Press Record


Make A Audio Recording (starts recording straight away and works on Apple Watch as well as iPhone).


My Tuner Radio Australia


Just be a bit careful with this one if you own a HomePod.  I set up a Siri Shortcut called “Play ABC Radio Sydney” and of course when I tried my usual “Play ABC Radio Sydney” on the HomePod not thinking about the Siri Shortcut I just created, it announced couldn’t do this on the HomePod: i.e. no app on the HomePod and of course playing ABC Radio Sydney didn’t work at all on the HomePod.  Had to rename the Siri Shortcut and then things went back to normal.

As the My Tuner Radio Australia is an app on the iPHone/iPad, of course this Siri Shortcut to the app won’t play on the Apple Watch.

Tip - play a radio station from within the app and then go and check out Settings, Siri & Suggestions and it’ll be there, go in to the suggestion and add your voice phrase to the Siri Shortcut and off you go.




A tip - access one of your saved lines from within the app (example I accessed my trip from Gosford to Strathfield).  After you do this, the Shortcut for that trip will appear under the Tripview Shortcuts within the Settings, Siri & Suggestions, All Shortcuts, Tripview.

By the way, this one works fine on the Apple Watch as well.


When Is The Next Train From Gosford (to Parramatta)

When Is The Next bus (from Narara to Gosford)

When Is The Next Train from Gosford to Hamilton

When Is The Next Train from Parramatta (to Gosford)

When Is The Next Train to Strathfield

When is the Next Train From Strathfield to Parramatta

When Is The Next Train From Strathfield to Gosford




Play OverCast (resume or play most recent episode).

Overcast offers lots of Shortcuts but just using this one for the moment.




Find David’s Keys

Find Davids Wallet.

Find Davids Computer Bag

Find Ellens Keys


Within the Tile app, use the Siri Tab within a Tile entry to set the Siri Shortcut for that tile.


Water Minder


Current Hydration

Log 500ML Water


Again, a few more Shortcuts available, but just using these for the moment.


Voice memo


Record A New Voice Memo

Playback Voice Memo


The default phrase was Play My Recent Voice Memo but this kept playing Voice Mail Messages  so had to change the phrase.

Also unlike the Just Press Record app with the “Make A Audio Recording” will work on the Apple Watch as well.


Voice Dream - 


Play Reading List.


Plays in order files inside the Voice Dream Reading list with text to speech.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

What Makes Up My Connected Home So FAr

My Connected Home

My Smart Home is a collection of various hardware and software from different manufacturers including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft.  Besides most devices being “smart”, I have also have been gradually replacing non accessible devices with accessible ones or at least apps that I can run to make the actual hardware accessible.


Whilst some devices within themselves are not smart home tech, they give me a complete house experience that is accessible or at least convenient.


The main device that I use to drive most of the tech in my house is my iPhone with the inbuilt screen reader VoiceOver.


Running apps on my iPhone gives me control to access/use my:

 Ring Video Doorbell at the front door,

Coffee machine (which in itself is not accessible due to the touch screen),

Home Kit switch’s (lights, fans and electric blankets), globes, and weather stations (indoor and outdoor),,

Front door and backdoor smart lights,

Playing music to my Google Home/Mini/Chromecast audio speakers in all parts of the house,

Playing movies or TV shows through the Apple TV (either in the rumpus room or a 2nd unit in the lounge room),

Playing music, audio books etc to the HomePod in the dining room or rumpus room,

Controlling my split system air conditioner via the Sensibo device (although via a webpage as the app is not that accessible for directly controlling the AC),

Controlling my Samsung Powerbot vacuum cleaner,

Tile Tag tracking for keys, computer bag and wallet.


Speaking of apps on my iPhone.  The app that I use for the coffee machine (Delongi primadonna Touch) is sort of accessible on my iPhone if I don’t get any pop-up messages from the machine such as water tank empty etc.  If these pop up, the app stops being accessible.  To get around this, one of my Samsung One Tabs is permanently Bluetooth connected to the coffee machine via the Coffee link app which does allow me to read and dismiss messages from the machine.


As I mentioned above, the Sensibo app is not great for directly controlling my AC.  However, I have linked the account up to the Google Mini in the kitchen to allow me to turn the AC on or off, check temperature, and turn the temp up or down.


The Samsung Powerbot vacuum cleaner I mainly use via the Google Mini in the kitchen to start and stop.  However, the physical remote control for the unit is very well laid out and easy to use.


Since the whole family uses iPhones and iPads, we have installed USB power points in the master bedroom, lounge room, kitchen, dining room, and study.  All the USB ports have lightning cables permanently plugged in so anyone can easily charge their device.  In my nook in the lounge room, I also have a few micro USB cables plugged in the USB ports to charge my Samsung tablet etc.


The reason why I went for the Chromcast Audio devices to give me sound around the whole house, is that I already had a number of AirPlay speakers (AQ audio Smart Speakers) which still work fine and happen to have 3.5MM jacks in the back which the Chromecast audio units plug in too.  So rather than buying new general or Airplay 2 compatible speakers, I just re-used my existing ones.


The 2 Google Homes and 3 Google Minis I have around the house to not only play music by themselves or around the house etc in their own wright, but I also use the “broadcast” feature which plays a voice message on all speakers to get my boys attention to get ready for Karate etc.


I also have a Chromecast linked up to my Samsung 32 inch (accessible) Smart TV in the boys rumpus room so that I can Chromecast from my iPhone or Netflix directly from one of the Google Home/Minis.


The advantage of the accessible Samsung Smart TV with its inbuilt screen reader Voice Guide allows me to not only independently change channels, find out what’s on, schedule recordings etc, but it also allows me to change Sources between the Xbox, Apple TV, and Chromecast.  Whilst most of the internet based apps on the Samsung are not accessible via Voice Guide, the apps that I need to use are fully supported with the inbuilt screen reader on the Apple TV VoiceOver including ABC iView, Netflix, channel 9 etc.


In case I feel like it, I have also paired the Google Home in the Rumpus room to be an external speaker to the Samsung TV, and of course, AirPlay from the Apple TV in the same room to the HomePod.


As the Apple TV supports Bluetooth keyboards, I have an Apple keyboard linked up to both AppleTVS should the family or visitors want to use them rather than the Siri Remote.


I have 3 Amazon Echo Dots,  in the boys rumpus room, kitchen, and study.  I mainly use these to listen to my audio books, and my Kindle books.


The HomePod I use via Siri to send/read messages and use it as a speaker from the iPhone, control the Home Kit devices (including checking the weather stations), and listen to ABC Radio Sydney in the mornings.


Unfortunately at this point in time the HomePod can not do multiple timers, so my Google Home Mini in the kitchen gives me access to multiple timers.  Another function which the HomePod doesn’t do and the Google Mini has to do is give me the next bus or train for me to catch.


Having the HomePod and the Apple TV as remote hosts, I can turn lights on or off etc when away from home.


Of course, having Siri not only on my iPhone, but also on my Apple Watch, allows me to access the Home Kit devices.  In addition, the Apple Watch allows me to “ping” my iPhone in the house so that if I have put it down somewhere I can have the watch play a sound on it to find it somewhere in the house.


Mac OS 10.14 Mohave (beta as of writing) running on my various Macs in the house allows me to either use Siri to control Home Kit devices as well as using the Home app itself.


With the Xbox on the Samsung Smart TV in the rumpus room  (I have a second unit in the lounge room on a non smart TV) running the inbuilt screen reader Narrator so I can keep track of what my boys are doing on the consoles.


What is currently not directly accessible in my house is my washing machine, dryer, and dish washer.  For the moment, these have just been marked up with tactile markers as has the Oven and Microwave.  The large TV in the lounge room where the 2nd Xbox and Apple TV are plugged in I’m waiting for it to stop working as it were so I can justify (smile) updating it to an accessible TV.  I would also like an accessible smart lock for the front door.


Most likely, the other purchase is going to be for a mesh network to help all the devices connect better and more reliably.


So getting there on my connected home tech, but still a way to go.


David Woodbridge September 2018