6 Things You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Automate


You can use your iPhone to create time-saving workflows and automations with Apple’s pre-installed Shortcuts app. If you haven’t yet dipped your toes into the world of iPhone automation, here are six examples to get you started.

Create automations

To create an automation, launch the Shortcuts app on your iPhone and tap the Automation tab. Now tap on “Create Personal Automation” to see a list of triggers you can use. It is also possible to make home automation, but today we focus on personal.

Can’t find the Shortcuts app on your iPhone? It is installed by default, but you may have uninstalled it. You can download shortcuts again free from the App Store.

Once you’ve chosen a trigger, you’ll need to assign some actions, which we’ll cover in the examples below. We recommend using the search bar to find triggers, as scrolling through Apple’s various categories can be time consuming.

It’s also recommended that you disable the “Ask before you start” toggle when creating your automation, as your automation will require an extra tap to run if you leave it enabled.

Finally, if you have an Apple AirTag, you can also use it as an NFC tag to trigger automations in the Shortcuts app.

Change your Apple Watch Face

You can save different watch faces on your Apple Watch and switch between them at will. Different watch faces can serve different purposes. For example, you want to create:

a face for your work that shows your upcoming appointments, news or stock quotes. a face to workout with weather info and shortcuts to apps like Workouts and Timer. a simple face that only shows the time when you are relaxing at home.

It’s hard to remember to manually switch between watch faces, so why not automate the process? It’s easy to create an automation that changes your watch face based on the time and day of the week, or changes when you arrive at work or home.

To do this, start a new automation and choose “Time of Day” then tap “Weekly” to specify a time and day of the week, or use the “Arrival” triggers and “Exit” to trigger a location-based instead. Tap “Add Action,” then choose “Set Up Watch Face,” followed by the face you want to activate.

Uncheck “Ask Before You Begin” and click “Done” to save your automation. You can now create similar automations for any other watch faces you might want to switch to based on your routine. The “Arrive” and “Leave” triggers are perfect for tagging locations (like a gym or workplace) if your schedule is unpredictable.

Receive thoughtful reminders on social media apps

Social media can be a time consuming activity. Most of us are aware of this, but still fall victim to its addictive nature. You could set app limits for yourself using Screen Time which will limit how much time you can spend on these apps, or you could take a gentler approach with a mindful reminder instead.

This works by triggering an app-specific notification after a certain amount of time has passed. This works with just about any app, but we’ll use Facebook as an example.

Create a new personal automation, choose “App” as the trigger and tap “Choose” to select the appropriate app. Make sure the “Is Open” condition is selected and then click “Next” to continue. Tap “Add Action” and add “Waiting”, followed by the delay in seconds before your notification is triggered (we chose 120 seconds).

Now press the plus button “+” and add the action “Show notification”. Replace “Hello World” with something like “You’ve been browsing Facebook for two minutes.” Then press “Next”, followed by “Done” to save your automation (make sure to uncheck “Ask before you start”).

You could extend this automation by adding another “Wait 180 seconds” action, followed by a “Show notification” action that says “You’ve been browsing Facebook for five minutes,” and so on.

Power saving mode automatic management

Power-saving mode is a handy way to extend your iPhone’s battery life when you’re running low. The feature disables certain functions, such as automatic e-mail retrieval and reduces the screen brightness to save as much power as possible. You will often see the “Low Power Mode” button appear next to low battery warnings.

Shortcuts allow you to activate the power saving mode automatically when your battery reaches a certain percentage. You can also create an additional automation that will disable the feature once the battery is restored.

To do this, create a new personal automation and choose “Battery level” as the trigger. Set the battery percentage you want to use to activate power saving mode by moving the slider, then tap “Falls below X%” below. Tap ‘Next’ and then ‘Add action’. Then find “Set Low Power Mode” and make sure “On” is selected.

Press “Next” and “Done” to save your automation. Now create another automation to disable the setting, make sure to select “Rises Above X%” for the trigger and “Set Low Power Mode” to “Off” as well. Power saving mode will now be activated and deactivated based purely on your battery percentage.

Launch your music app when you plug in a speaker or headphones

If you have wireless headphones or a Bluetooth speaker, you can use them as a trigger when your iPhone connects. This is especially useful if you’re using something like Spotify, which doesn’t have the same level of integration with the iOS operating system as Apple Music.

For Apple Music users, there are triggers to play specific playlists, or if you are a podcast or audiobook fan, you can use this trigger to launch your favorite app instead.

First, create a new personal automation with “Bluetooth” as the trigger. Select the device on which you want to activate your automation and then click “Next” to add actions. You can use the “Open App” action to specify your music, podcast, or audiobook player of choice.

For driving, you can create a similar automation, except use “CarPlay” as the trigger (assuming your car has CarPlay support). If you don’t have CarPlay support, you may want to add an NFC trigger to your dashboard to do something similar.

Enable Do Not Disturb in games or other apps

If you use your iPhone for playing online games like Among Us or Fortnite, you probably don’t want to be disturbed during a match. That’s exactly where this Do Not Disturb mode automation comes in handy. By default, Do Not Disturb mode mutes incoming calls and notifications when your device is locked.

With one tweak, the feature can be used to mute all calls and notifications. To do this, go to Settings > Do Not Disturb and enable “Always” in the “Silent” section. If you don’t change this setting, the next automation will have no effect.

Now create a new personal automation with “App” as trigger. Choose your desired game or app and make sure only “Is Open” is selected below. Hit “Next” then “Add Action” and choose “Set Do Not Disturb” with the conditions “On” to “Disabled” to enable it indefinitely. Press “Next” and “Done” to save your automation, but uncheck “Ask before you start”.

In order for your iPhone to turn off Do Not Disturb mode when you’re done playing, you’ll need to create another automation. Choose “App” as the trigger, then select the same app and make sure only “Is Closed” is enabled. Hit “Next” and choose set “Do not disturb” to “Off” as an action, then save it with the “Ask before you start” switch turned off.

Have your iPhone announce when the battery is charged

We’ve already covered how to make your iPhone scream when you plug it into power in the past. This is a nice trick, but not as useful as an automation that announces when your iPhone has reached the desired battery capacity.

Keep in mind that Apple’s optimized charging may cause your device to not reach the ideal 100% charge, so choosing an 80% capacity may be more helpful in some cases. You can create multiple automations for different battery percentages if you want.

To start, create a new personal automation with “Battery Level” as the trigger. Find out what battery percentage you want your iPhone to make the announcement at and make sure ‘Rises Above X%’ is selected below. Press “Next” and then “Add Action” followed by the “Speak Text” action.

Replace “Text” with whatever you want your iPhone to say right now, then tap “Show More” to see more options. You can select a language, voice, pitch and speed (speed). Use the “Play” button at the bottom of the screen to preview your announcement, then click “Next” and uncheck “Ask Before You Begin”, followed by “Done” to save.

Get creative with automations

These automations are simple yet useful and can be used as a starting point for much more complex workflows. If you’re looking for inspiration, the r/Shortcuts subreddit is a great resource for both automation ideas and shortcut recipes.

Shortcuts on your iPhone are great, but did you know that you can also activate Shortcuts workflows on your Apple Watch?

RELATED: How to Use Shortcuts on Apple Watch

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