Your iPhone can auto-record your police encounters through a Siri shortcut. Here's how

A Siri shortcut can share your location and create a video with a simple command.

3 min read

This creative Shortcut can document any interactions with the police. 

Angela Lang/CNET

The protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have brought to the forefront the way that videos and livestreams of interactions with police officers can form public opinion. As videos depicting police brutality are captured on  smartphones  and shared on social media, another consideration comes into focus. 

What if you don't have the time or forethought to pick up your phone, text someone to let them know where you are and what's happening or begin recording a video? 

If you have an iPhone, however, it's possible to use Apple's Shortcuts app and a shortcut created by Reddit user RobertAPeterson to send a message with your location to a friend or family member and automatically begin recording a video with nothing more than a simple command, "Hey Siri , I'm getting pulled over." 

Setting it up is simple and only takes a couple of minutes. 

Watch this: How to use Siri's Shortcuts app

Install Shortcuts and change this important setting

The first thing you'll need to do before you can set up the "I'm getting pulled over" Shortcut is to install Apple's Shortcuts app. This is a useful app to have on hand anyway, with its ability to handle routines and tasks like starting Do Not Disturb on a timer or act as a spelling checker for long pieces of text -- plus so much more.

Before you can add a Shortcut you find outside of Apple's own gallery, you need to allow third-party Shortcuts that haven't been vetted by Apple to be added to your phone. To do that, open your iPhone's Settings app, then tap on Shortcuts and slide the switch next to Allow Untrusted Shortcuts to the On position. 

Whenever you're installing Shortcuts created by a third-party, it's important to scroll through the steps and look at what they do. If there's something you don't understand or feel comfortable with, don't add the shortcut. 


Add the Shortcut and then add any contacts you want the Shortcut to use. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Add the Shortcut and get it set up

With Shortcuts installed, you'll need to add the "I'm getting pulled over" Shortcut. Click on this iCloud Shortcut link on your iPhone; right now there isn't a way to add a Shortcut from your Mac or PC to your phone. 

When you open the link on your iPhone, it should launch the Shortcuts app, showing you every step included in the Shortcut, and ask if you want to add it to your Gallery. Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap on the red Add Untrusted Shortcut button. 

Next, you'll be asked to pick any contacts you want the Shortcut to send your location as soon as it's triggered, as well as a copy of the video that will be recorded. You can skip either step if you'd prefer. 

After going through the initial setup process I recommend running the Shortcut as a test. You can tap on the card that's added to the Shortcuts app, or trigger Siri and say "I'm getting pulled over." Running it now, in a stress-free situation, will allow you to grant all of its permission requests and get the general idea of how it works. 


Make sure to run the Shortcut once so you can approve all permission requests and learn how to use it. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

What happens when you run the Shortcut?

In the future, if you're getting pulled over or want to trigger the Shortcut, you'll need to unlock your iPhone, then summon Siri by holding in the side button on an iPhone with Face ID, or by holding in the home button if your iPhone has one and saying "I'm getting pulled over."

The Shortcut will then pause your music, turn down the volume, dim your screen, turn on Do Not Disturb, and automatically send a message with your location the contacts you entered during setup. The front-facing camera will then open and automatically begin recording. 


You'll need to interact with your phone to end the recording process and share the video. 

Patrick Holland/CNET

Due to limitations in iOS , you'll need to interact with your phone in order to send the video in a message. Stop recording by pressing the volume-up button on your phone, or tapping the stop button on your screen. Next, tap Use Video which will create a message addressed to the contacts you added during setup, then tap Send.

Finally, you'll be asked if you want to upload the video to iCloud Drive, Dropbox or do not upload. 

CNET recommends complying with local laws. If you join a protest, make sure you know your legal rights before going out on the streets. If you're worried about tear gas, this is what you should know. The CDC's new guidelines for large gatherings includes wearing a face mask to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus, which has now topped 8 million cases worldwide.