Everything iOS 14 changed for Siri (and how it'll make your life easier)

An updated Siri Shortcuts app in iOS 14 makes automating everyday tasks like opening apps and turning on playlists easier. Here's how to get it set up.

Alison DeNisco Rayome Managing Editor
Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome
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Apple's latest iPhone operating system, iOS 14, is now available to download, and is packed with useful new features to help you get things done faster and easier. The Shortcuts app in particular sees a major upgrade in the new OS, with more options for automating tasks so you can make your phone do what you need without moving a muscle. 

Here's how the new Shortcut feature works, so you can hit the ground running once you get iOS 14 installed on your iPhone. 

What is the Shortcuts app? 

Siri Shortcuts is an app that lets you automate certain tasks or sequences of tasks that you can trigger with a tap or Siri voice command. If you know you want to silence your phone for 30 minutes a day while you read, for example, you can create a shortcut, so all you have to say is, "Siri, Do Not Disturb timer" (or whatever command you prefer). Or you might want to set a shortcut so that when your phone hits a certain battery level, Siri will automatically turn down the screen brightness and turn off location services to save battery.

Apple introduced shortcuts in iOS 12 . The app is included by default, and it's easy to get started with. In iOS 14, open the app, tap the Automation tab at the bottom and tap Create Personal Automation. You can also set up automations that work for everyone in your home.

Watch this: First take: iOS 14 and all its new features

What's new with Shortcuts in iOS 14? 

In the past, you may have had to jump into the Shortcuts app to complete a task, Shortcuts engineer Daniel Hsu said during a June WWDC session on new features. In iOS 14, Shortcuts will run seamlessly in the background, and only prompt you if you need to input any information. If you have a shortcut for calculating tips, for example it'll prompt you to enter the bill. 

New folders make it easier to find and keep track of shortcuts. And you'll finally be able to use the Shortcuts app on an Apple Watch with WatchOS 7, too.

Apple WWDC 2020 event

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iOS 14 also has more options for automating tasks, letting you run actions based on triggers like the time of day, arrival at a location or when you open an app. You can set up a shortcut so that if you open a journaling app, for example, your phone automatically goes into Do Not Disturb mode and starts your writing playlist from Apple Music

The new OS lets you trigger shortcuts with more actions, like opening an email or message, closing an app or plugging your phone into its charger. It also supports more automated shortcuts that don't require an action from you, such as giving you a weather report and starting a playlist at a certain time of morning, or shutting down apps when the phone enters low-power mode. You can customize your shortcuts (automated or otherwise) exactly as you like from the app. 

You can find suggestions for things to automate in the Gallery tab of the Shortcuts app, and also check out our list of the 10 best iOS shortcuts and how they work for some inspiration. 

Watch this: How to use Siri's Shortcuts app