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3 Simple automations for your iPhone Make that computer in your pocket work for you

Week 164.0 — 14th December '20

Even before Siri Shortcuts, there were a few simple automations you could already perform on your iPhone that make things a little easier.

Text Replacement

One example is Text Replacement, where you can type a short phrase that is then replaced with something longer or a symbol. I use it all the time to populate hashtags on Instagram or to quickly type out email addresses.

You can access the configuration at Settings > General > Keyboards > Text Replacement. Tap the + to create a new one, enter the long version of the text in the Phrase box and the short version in the Shortcut box. Like I said, I use this for email addresses. You can make [email protected] expand out into [email protected], really handy for when you sign up for services. Now that Apple sorted out syncing keyboard shortcuts across devices, it's really convenient to be able to do this on the Mac too, although on all devices some apps somehow opt out of text replacement.

I have one for the 🖖 emoji too for when I type LLAP. For something I like to use, but not often enough, it's much easier to type 4 characters than go searching for it on the emoji keyboard.

Back Tap

You can double or triple tap the back of your phone to get it to perform an action for you automatically.

If you choose a Shortcut, you might want to gate it with a confirmation first. I had triple tap toggle dark mode and often wondered why my phone was in dark mode during the day despite not selecting it. Turns out putting the phone down on a table was sometimes triggering it and without confirmation before or after running it it was sometimes dark and sometimes light! Highly frustrating, but now I popup a simple confirmation before it does the toggle.

I use a double tap for invoking the app switcher. I haven't figured out anything more useful, but for people who struggle to take shortcuts or accessing various screens quickly, it's a simple gesture that can get you there quickly.

You can find it at Settings > Accessibility > Back Tap and then assign an action to either or both types of triggers.

Time sensitive apps

You can use Siri Shortcuts to launch an app, which seems like a slightly ridiculous thing to do... but if you add this as an automation, you can have it launch at a particular time and with or without confirmation. For security security, health, productivity or mental wellbeing apps this is a fantastic utility. I've been using it for most of the year in some shape or form but I think running without asking permission first came around as part of iOS 14 a few months ago and is a welcome addition.

Annoying when you're taken out of your flow but it's a temporary feeling for me. I'd rather be forced to jump into a quick task than to have it hanging over me because I can continually dismiss it until later which is obviously what happens regularly when given the choice!

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Notable

Quick links and commentary on interesting articles, videos and more throughout the week.

  1. 164.3 – Wednesday
    1. Nikkei report: iPhone 12 sales strong lineup-wide, but 12 Mini 'a bit sluggish' daringfireball.net
    2. Understanding ProRAW blog.halide.cam
    3. Instagram would be better off without Facebook theverge.com
  2. 164.4 – Thursday
    1. Ted Lasso, a model for the nurturing modern man kottke.org
    2. Facebook goes to war with Apple over ad privacy axios.com
  3. 164.6 – Saturday
    1. Deaths per week: 2020 vs. Previous five years u/sjaquemate on reddit.com
    2. Diamond in the Sky Mariano Ribas on apod.nasa.gov

Jump to notable items for Week #163, Week #165 , view the notable archive or my favourites.

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