Gears & Gadgets

New automation features are coming to macOS in Shortcuts—but not for every app

A few examples of "Shortcuts" that can be applied to Siri with iOS 12.
Enlarge / A few examples of “Shortcuts” that can be applied to Siri with iOS 12.

According to a report at 9to5mac citing people familiar with Apple’s plans, several iOS features will come to the Mac in macOS 10.15.

First and foremost among these is Shortcuts, the automation application that Apple built out of its acquisition of Workflow. The app, support for which was introduced in iOS 12, allows iPhone and iPad users to define steps for their devices to perform when they deliver certain user-definable Siri voice commands, tap user-created home screen icons, and so on.

Shortcuts is tightly integrated with Siri, and it was positioned by Apple as a way to make Siri much more powerful than it has been previously. Third-party app developers could develop their own Shortcuts and accompanying Siri commands that could be accessed across the operating system.

According to the report, Shortcuts will be supported in the next version of macOS, but as with iOS, it may require users to download an application not included with the OS by default in order to create custom Shortcuts.

Further, the report suggests that Shortcuts will work only with Marzipan apps. Marzipan is Apple’s ongoing project to make development of apps that work across both iOS and macOS easier. Last year’s major macOS release, 10.14 Mojave, included a few Apple-made apps using Marzipan like Apple News and Stocks, but it has not been made widely available to third-party developers yet.

Below: Images and examples from Shortcuts in our iOS 12 review.

Another macOS app called Automator has existed for a long time and performed some similar functions to Shortcuts, and it’s unclear what will happen to Automator when Shortcuts arrives.

However, the fact that only Marzipan apps will work with macOS Shortcuts may offer a clue. Apple is unlikely to remove Automator if Shortcuts can’t replace it for numerous apps on users’ systems. The result may be a somewhat confusing period in which the apps exist side by side, doing slightly different things for different apps.

It’s likely Apple will encourage developers to make most future macOS apps Marzipan apps, so over time, the ecosystem could eventually reach the point that it makes sense to drop Automator.

9to5Mac’s sources also say that Screen Time, another major iOS 12 feature, will arrive on macOS 10.15. Screen Time allows users to see reports about how much time they’re spending on their devices, and in which apps. It also lets you define time limits and other restrictions for either yourself or your kids.

Currently, the Screen Time app for iOS collects data across all your iOS devices together in your reports. By adding macOS support, Apple will give users a more complete picture of their habits and usage of their computing devices. It’s likely both the Screen Time and Shortcuts apps for macOS will be Marzipan apps.

Below: Images of Screen Time from our iOS 12 review.

Finally, the report says that macOS 10.15 will additionally include a revamped Settings panel for managing your Apple user ID and managing features like Family Sharing and Messages features from iOS, like the confetti that appears when you congratulate someone.

macOS 10.15 will be revealed during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in early June, with a public release to follow sometime in the fall of this year.

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Tech – Ars Technica

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