Apple’s Shortcuts app is a fantastic part of iOS, an almost unlimited corner of the operating system that allows users to automate almost anything they can think of, limited only by the imagination and ability to ” use Apple’s coding system (complete collection of Federico Viticci on MacStories is a good place to start.) But shortcuts have such a terrible problem that it makes them one of the most annoying parts of my phone, instead of one of the most useful: Apple insists on always showing notifications. when I’m doing something, and it’s virtually impossible to turn it off.
Yes, I am aware that there is an extremely janky hack to disable notifications on shortcuts globally. The trick, as detailed by HowToGeek, involves going to the Screen Time portion of the settings and switching between weeks to trick the software into giving you access to the standard Shortcuts app notifications menu.
There are a few issues with this, including the fact that it’s boring to do, requires you to cope with which is almost certainly a problem, and it’s extremely difficult to re-enable notifications if you turn them off (because you’ll have to go back to last week, you have enabled notifications in Screen Time to return to the same menu). It is also a global setting: either you are entirely on the shortcut banners, or you disable them completely.
Apple, I guess, makes notifications mandatory because the shortcuts are extremely powerful tools to automate things on your iPhone, and it’s easy to imagine unscrupulous use.
But the point is, the power of shortcuts is to automate things in the background that I don’t want to have to deal with, whether it’s automatically turning off the rotation lock when I open or close an app, opening an app with a custom icon, or changing the wallpaper when battery life is low. A big blatant notification every time I do something undermines this idea. I want my phone to be quietly useful, not screaming in my face every time it does what I asked it to.
My new favorite use of shortcuts is the recently added ability in iOS 14.5 to automatically turn rotation lock on and off. only when I’m in video playback apps like Apple TV Plus or YouTube. The shortcut works great, but it’s spoiled by the fact that every time I open or close YouTube (or the other apps I’ve set it up in), I lose the top of my screen at a notification to me. alerts that, yes, the phone is doing exactly what I programmed it to do. (It’s a long notification, too, often taking a few seconds before it goes away.)
All I’m asking is common ground. Apple doesn’t need to completely destroy notifications for shortcuts. But the company could easily allow specific automations to have the ability to run silently in the background on a case-by-case basis, giving users the best of both worlds.
The ball is in your court, Apple. And WWDC (with the alleged iOS 15 reveal) is only a few weeks away. Crossed fingers.