iOS 15: Everything New With the Shortcuts App

BY Parth Shah

Published 21 Aug 2021

what's new with shortcuts app

Siri Shortcuts — Apple’s automation app on the iPhone is getting powerful with every new iOS update. iOS 15 – iOS 15.4 is no exception here. Among all the hidden features of iOS 15 – iOS 15.4, the Siri Shortcuts improvements can’t be ignored. Apple has redesigned certain parts of the Shortcuts app and added several functions to take the automation experience to the next level. Read along to learn everything that’s new with the Shortcuts app in iOS 15 – iOS 15.4. 

Apple is unifying the automation across all the hardware with the launch of the Shortcuts app on Mac. At the same time, the company is introducing new triggers and making the Shortcuts app more user-friendly on the iPhone. 

1. New Add Action Menu

The Add Action menu is getting a complete revamp in the Shortcuts app. Open the Shortcuts app and try to create a new shortcut from scratch. Select Add Action and it will treat you with a new menu to add an action. It’s nicely categorized in several apps. The menu will share suggestions from your frequently used apps and contacts. 

add action menu

2. New Categories in Add Action Menu

This is yet another addition to the Shortcuts app with iOS 15 – iOS 15.4. When adding a new action in the Shortcuts app, you don’t need to scroll hundreds of actions just to select a specific one. Create a new shortcut in the Shortcuts app. Try to add a new action and you’ll see several categories such as Location, Media, Sharing, Documents, Scripting, and Web. 

Select a relevant category and you will find all the possible related shortcuts from the following menu. This is going to make life easier for millions of users out there. In our testing, we found it more useful than the search bar at the top.

new category menu

3. Favorite a Command

Do you use certain commands frequently in the Shortcuts app? With the iOS 15 – iOS 15.4 update, you can now favorite specific commands in the app. From the Shortcuts app, when you try to add an action, tap on the info button. It will open another menu with a command description and the ability to mark it as a favorite. From now on, whenever you want to add an action, go to the Favorites menu and take a peek at your most-used commands. 

favorite a command

4. New Circular Icons

Not a huge change but still an important one to bring uniformity to the Shortcuts app. The Shortcuts app now carries circular familiar icon styles in the Add Action menu. 

5. Sound Recognition Automation

Apple offers several automations to create awesome shortcuts on the go. They are hidden under the Automation menu in the app. The company has added a new automation trigger called Sound Recognition. 

It’s a useful accessibility add-on, mostly relevant for deaf people. You can create an automation for Sound Recognition for fire alarm or ambulance near you and let the Shortcuts app remind you about the same via notification.

sound recognition

6. Mac Shortcuts in iPhone

With the macOS Monterey update, Apple has debuted the Shortcuts app on the Mac. The Shortcuts that you create on Mac are available to use on iPhone as well.

You might see some shortcuts such as the ability to view Safari and Apple Notes with a single click. Those Shortcuts won’t work on the iPhone though. But you can edit and make changes to the created shortcut and it will sync with the macOS Shortcuts app as well.

Similarly, you can create a shortcut using the Mac Shortcuts app and it will sync with the iPhone app.

macOS shortcuts

7. New Go to Home Screen Scripting

Apple has added a new Go to Home Screen trigger to add in any shortcut. Normally, when you run a shortcut, it stops the automation based on your previously added action. With this scripting, you can add a new action called Go to Home Screen. 

Whenever you run a shortcut, you can add Go to Home Screen script at the bottom. iOS will run a shortcut and at the end, it will leave you at the home screen. With the Shortcuts widget and this new action, you can easily run the shortcut from the home screen and be right back to the home screen once the system runs the automation.

home screen scripting

The changes don’t end here though. You will see a bunch of small UI updates all over the Shortcuts app on the iPhone. Even with all these changes, we feel Shortcuts will remain a tool for power users only. 

In its current avatar, normal consumers will find it difficult to create a shortcut from scratch. The default Gallery of shortcuts is useful though. It will be interesting to see how Apple takes the automation approach further with the Shortcuts app, now that it’s available for the Mac platform now.