Monday, December 20, 2021

How Apple Could Improve Shortcuts

Matthew Cassinelli:

I think a significant boon for new users would be step-through debugging of what’s happening in between actions so that users can figure out what’s wrong.


Making any sort of advanced Siri shortcut means you need to use a mix of Ask For Input, Show Result, or a variety of other Scripting techniques that work one way when run from Siri and another way when not run from Siri – without in-app documentation that these even work with Siri at all.


I think this slow pace from Apple has led to slower adoption from the third-party developer community – there have not been many good examples of how to utilize the Shortcuts developer APIs from Apple’s own teams, so it’s not as clear to developers how to match them in their own apps.


I think users who are new to Shortcuts for Mac are likely missing out on the Automations feature, which simply isn’t available on the Mac – true automation capabilities are what make, well, automation tools actually useful for most people, and making the main features of the app only able to launch every shortcut manually means that new users can’t take advantage of their devices truly working for them.


One of the biggest pain points of the Shortcuts app is bugs and crashes – the app was developed outside of Apple, integrated upon acquisition, and now redesigned twice and transferred to a new programming language.

Via Jason Snell:

The big lift for Shortcuts over the next few years is to get much more support for actions in apps—starting with Apple’s. As AppleScript atrophied, the need to support user automation evaporated from the to-do lists of app developers. It will take some serious evangelism from Apple and elsewhere for app developers to make proper Shortcuts support a priority.


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