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Posts tagged with "shortcuts"

Toolbox Pro Review: A Must-Have Companion Utility for Shortcuts Power Users

When I covered the updated Shortcuts app in my iOS and iPadOS 13 review earlier this year, I argued how, thanks to parameters, Shortcuts actions provided by third-party apps could become native features of the Shortcuts app.

With his debut app Toolbox Pro, released today on the App Store, developer Alex Hay has taken this idea to its logical conclusion: Toolbox Pro is a new kind of “headless” app – a utility whose sole purpose is to complement and extend Apple’s Shortcuts app with over 50 new actions, providing a native implementation of functionalities that Apple hasn’t brought to Shortcuts yet. After having used Toolbox Pro for the past couple of months, not only is the app a clever idea well suited for Shortcuts’ parameter framework, but it’s also a must-have for anyone who relies on Shortcuts on a daily basis.

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How To Open the Apple TV+ Front Page and Individual Shows Directly in the TV App

Update, November 7: The shortcut has been updated with links to all currently announced Apple TV+ shows. You can find the updated download link below and in the MacStories Shortcuts Archive.


I was listening to the latest episode of Upgrade, and, among several fair points about the shortcomings of Apple’s TV app for iPhone and iPad, Jason Snell mentioned an issue that stood out to me: if you don’t know where to look, it can be hard to tell where exactly the Apple TV+ service lives inside the Apple TV app. This sentiment was echoed earlier today in this article by Benjamin Mayo at 9to5Mac:

Apple has made very few changes to the TV app design and feature set to accommodate the TV+ launch. TV+ is shoehorned in as just another source of content with very little consideration. With other streaming services, if you want to commit to their world and explore everything they have to offer, you can just open the dedicated app and never touch the TV app. With TV+, that’s simply not possible.

There is a channel section of the TV app that is dedicated to TV+ content — but it’s far from perfect. Finding the TV+ section requires a lot of scrolling, meandering past several screens worth of Watch Now recommendations for everything in the iTunes catalog.

I’ve been watching The Morning Show over the weekend (which I surprisingly liked a lot; I’m going to start For All Mankind and See next), and even though I’m used to the TV app’s quirks by now, I recognize that its navigation should be improved. And in particular regarding the new Apple TV+ service, I do believe that it’s somewhat buried in the TV app experience – by default, Apple doesn’t offer a single, easy way to open a “page” with Apple TV+’s complete catalog. So, I had to figure out a solution on my own.

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FS Bookmarks: A Shortcut to Reopen Files and Folders Directly in the Files App

A couple weeks ago on our iPad-focused podcast Adapt, Ryan challenged me to figure out a way to turn the iPad’s Home screen into a desktop-like environment with icons to reopen files and folders directly in the Files app. At first, I thought it couldn’t be done: unlike the Mac’s Finder, Files doesn’t let you create aliases to folders or place files on the Home screen; the Shortcuts app can create Home screen icons, but it doesn’t have access to documents located outside Shortcuts’ iCloud Drive container.

As I detailed on Adapt yesterday, I’m happy to introduce FS Bookmarks, a shortcut that lets you create direct launchers for files and folders stored in the Files app. FS Bookmarks is a hybrid Shortcuts-Scriptable tool that takes advantage of a native Files API (which I will call “bookmarks”) to expose the filesystem path of any file or folder stored in the Files app.

With the launchers created via FS Bookmarks, you’ll be able to reopen any document in the Files app (in Quick Look preview mode) or navigate to any folder you want to quickly access. Best of all, you don’t need to know or even see Scriptable’s JavaScript code at all: FS Bookmarks takes care of installing the necessary scripts for you; you just need to pick the files and folders you want to create launchers for, and that’s it. FS Bookmarks was designed to abstract the complexity involved with retrieving the filesystem paths used by the Files app.

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Apple Updates the HomePod with Multi-Voice Support and Ambient Sounds, Plus iPhone Handoff, Shortcuts, and HomeKit Functionality

On Monday, Apple released audioOS 13.2 for the HomePod and before the end of the day US-time pulled it when users started reporting that it was bricking their HomePods. In addition to bricking some HomePods, other users, myself included, had trouble setting up multi-voice support. I also heard from others who had trouble getting the update to install in the first instance. Today, shortly after Apple’s earnings call concluded, the company released audioOS 13.2.1, which includes the same features and presumably fixes the issues users experienced.

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Hands-On with HomePod’s New Music Features for HomeKit, Shortcuts, and Handoff

New HomePod features.

New HomePod features.

Following the announcement of AirPods Pro earlier today, Apple also released iOS, iPadOS, audioOS, and tvOS 13.2. Among various features (which we’ve detailed in a separate story here), one of the key improvements in this suite of software updates is extended flexibility of the HomePod’s music playback abilities.

In fact, by updating to the latest version of Apple’s software, you’ll gain a variety of new audio-related functionalities for HomePod, ranging from the ability to wave an iPhone atop the speaker to hand off audio to brand new integrations with the Shortcuts app as well as HomeKit scenes and automations. In this post, I’m going to go over all the different ways you can control audio playback on Apple’s Siri-integrated speaker, explain new shortcuts that can be built with these features, and share some first impressions based on my initial tests with today’s changes. We’re going to cover HomePod’s other new functionalities such as multi-user support and ambient sounds later this week. Let’s dive in.

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Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.2 with New Features, AirPods Pro Support, and HomePod Updates

Apple has released iOS and iPadOS 13.2, which is necessary to operate the AirPods Pro that will be in stores on Wednesday, October 30th, and adds several new features to iPhones, iPads, and the HomePod.

One of the most-anticipated features is Deep Fusion, which harnesses the power of the A13 Bionic Neural Engine to generate photos that combine elements of several exposures to bring out additional detail and textures in low light settings. The feature works with the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, comparing multiple shots pixel-by-pixel to assemble a composite image that is better than any single image captured by the technology. To see examples of Deep Fusion in action, check out Federico’s recent photo tour of Rome. The Camera app has also gained the ability to change the video resolution from the app’s UI for the first time on the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max.

As has become something of a tradition each fall, Apple has paired today’s update with new emoji. Revealed in the iOS and iPadOS 13.2 beta, there are over 70 new emoji including people in wheelchairs, skin tone support for people holding hands, a sloth, a waffle, a yawning face, a skunk, garlic, a yo-yo, and a flamingo.

In addition to support for the new AirPods Pro, iOS and iPadOS 13.2 include the Announce Messages feature which enables Siri to announce new messages via a user’s AirPods as they arrive. HomeKit gains support for Secure Video and HomeKit routers too. Secure Video is designed for secure storage of video taken by home security cameras and includes support for detection of people, animals, and vehicles. Apps can also be deleted from an iPhone or iPad’s Home screen via a quick action for the first time.

Apple’s Shortcuts app received a few updates as part of iOS and iPadOS 13.2 too. The app now works with the Apple Watch, which will provide users with greater flexibility to run their shortcuts. Also, there is a new Feed URL property for podcasts and a Handoff playback action, which I can’t wait to try. Undo allows for reverting parameter changes too.

Apple has also added new Siri privacy settings that allow users to decide whether to allow Apple to store Siri and dictation audio. Siri and dictation histories can be deleted from Settings too.

Originally announced at WWDC, Apple has updated the HomePod with several new features. With multi-voice support, the HomePod can recognize the voices of different members of a household, allowing them to each receive an individualized experience. Another big HomePod feature is Handoff support for music, podcasts, and phone calls, which allows you to tap your iPhone on your HomePod to continue the audio on it instead of your phone. HomeKit scenes add support for music, and the HomePod can now play Ambient Sounds, which include things like the sound of a rain storm. Finally, users can set sleep timers for music or Ambient Sounds with their HomePods too.


Shortcuts Corner: Creating Multiple Reminders in a Row, Playing Audio on HomePod, and Reading Tech News

In this week’s installment of the Shortcuts Corner, I share a custom Reminders-specific shortcut I’ve built to customize and enhance my daily experience with Apple’s task manager. Furthermore, I share a simple shortcut to quickly resume audio playback of any HomePod around the house and detail a new version of an old shortcut, which I’ve updated for iOS 13, made more flexible, and integrated with the rest of the system. Let’s dig in.

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MacStories Shortcuts Icons Receives Free Update with 50 New Glyphs

I’m happy to announce that MacStories Shortcuts Icons, our custom icon set for adding shortcuts to the Home screen, has received an update today that adds 50 new glyphs.

The update is available now for free for existing customers (just download the file again with the link in your original email receipt); for new customers, the update is part of the standard MacStories Shortcuts Icons purchase, which is available at $14.99 for a total of 350 custom Home screen glyphs.

All sales are final. You can read our license and terms of use here.

For those who may have missed it last month: MacStories Shortcuts Icons lets you customize the look of your shortcuts added to the Home screen by choosing from hundreds of glyphs designed specifically with Shortcuts users in mind, going beyond what’s provided by Apple in the Shortcuts app.

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Shortcuts Corner: Quick Contacts, RSS Feeds, Inspecting Lenses for iPhone 11 Photos, and Turning Reminders to Notes

In this week’s installment of the Shortcuts Corner, I share two app-based shortcuts (for Quickness and Fiery Feeds) that I teased earlier this week, which let you create new contacts and subscribe to RSS feeds, respectively. Additionally, I’ve been working on an iPhone 11 Pro photography story, and I’ve created a shortcut that lets you double-check which camera was used to take a particular picture. Lastly, I share a preview of a shortcut to batch-convert reminders to notes, which is exclusive to Club MacStories members this week. Let’s dive in.

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