Last Updated on October 14, 2020 by Bakari Chavanu

As a Mac automator, I thrive on automations that reduce any amount of clicking, tapping, and mouse or finger movements I have to make to trigger actions. And that’s why I was pleased to learn about the new iOS personal automations for the iPhone.

iOS personal automations are somewhat different from the iOS Siri shortcuts, which I’m not ashamed to say I don’t use very much. For me, the best automations are ones that take place without having to manually trigger a workflow in order for it to run. But even if a single trigger, triggers two or more actions, I also see that as a useful automation.

In this article, I describe a few personal iOS automations I use, and how I put them together. If you’re not using iOS automations, you’re missing out on some geeky fun.

My Workout Automation Workflow

So far, I have almost a dozen iOS personal automations that are mainly day and timed triggered, but favorite automation workflows include one for when I start a workout, a few time of day actions that change my Apple Watch faces, and a few application triggered workflows.

My workout automation workflow is triggered when I start any Apple Watch workout. It runs the following actions:

  • Sets my Activity Digital watch face, so I can monitor the progress I'm making in my workout.
  • Next, it opens the Overcast podcast app, because I listen to podcasts while exercising.
  • And finally, it sets the volume of my iPhone to 98% so I can hear a podcast while riding my e-bike on busy streets.

Notice in the screenshots below that I throw in a few wait seconds actions. Those actions seem to help the workflow run more smoothly.

This is the workflow for when I start any workout.
This workflows sets my Apple Watch to my Activity Digital watch face so that I can monitor my activity.
Next, the workflow opens the Overcast app, and sets the volume of my iPhone to 98%, because my exercise consist of riding my e-bike on busy streets.

I have a similar workflow for when I end my workout:

  • Change back to my California watch face.
  • Set the iPhone volume to 65%
  • Trigger on the battery charger for my e-bike, which is triggered by a bluetooth Wemo trigger that is a part of my iOS Home Hub.

These workflows are not complicated, but they do require knowing what the iOS automation features can and cannot do.

iOS Actions Triggers and Actions

The iOS automation setup is similar to Keyboard Maestro and Automator workflows, in that workflows consist a series of actions that are ran by one of several triggers including day and time triggers, app triggers, Wi-Fi or bluetooth connection triggers, battery charger triggers, a Do Not Disturb trigger, etc..

The key to using iOS personal automations is knowing what you want and can automate. For my workout workflow, I wanted to reduce a few taps in my workout process. While many people may not be bothered by manually performing the same actions on their iPhone everyday, it bothers me to do so, especially when actions could be automated.

Triggers

The following is a set of screenshots all the iOS automation triggers.

How to Set Up a Time of Day Trigger

The Time of Day trigger (similar to the day and time trigger in Keyboard Maestro) is one of my favorite triggers, because the automation fires off without any manual triggering. The following screenshots show to create a Day of Time workflow in iOS automations.

1. Open the iOS Shortcuts App and tap on the Automation button at the bottom of the app.
2. Select the Time of Day trigger.
3. Set the day and time for your trigger. Note, if you select the Weekly or Monthly trigger, you will need to scroll down some more to see the options for those selections. Click the Next button.
4. This window consists access to hundreds of actions available in iOS 14.
5. In the Actions window, tap and do a quick search for “Apple watch” or just “watch”.
6. Select the action you want ran. Note, if you choose the Set Watch Face, you will need to choose from the faces you have already set in your Apple Watch app.
7. You can choose to disable the Ask Before Running option. Note: you might want to manually run the workflow to make sure it works. If a Time of Day workflow doesn't fire, try to disabling it, wait a few seconds, and then enable it.

Sample iOS Automation Actions

To get some ideas for what can be done with iOS automations, browse through the following screenshots of iOS 14 actions. Think about the redundant tasks you perform on your iPhone and see if there's a way to build a workflow that reduces the number of steps you you need to take to perform those redundant actions.

iOS Personal Automation Ideas

Off the top of my head, here some ideas for iOS automations:

  • Use a location trigger to open a grocery list or restaurant app when you arrive at a designated grocery store or restaurant.
  • Have an app automatically open when you switch to a designated Wi-Fi network.
  • Have your iPhone switch to Low Power mode when you connect to a charger. This will enable the phone charger to charge faster. Also create another workflow that turns Low Power when your iPhone is disconnected from the charger.
  • Automatically run one of your Siri shortcuts when you leave or arrive home.
  • Set up a workflow to call a Zoom number for a weekly scheduled meeting. Include a Play a Sound action at the beginning of the workflow so that you are that you're reminded that phone call is about to be made for you.

Your Automation Ideas?

I hope you found some of the ideas I’ve shared useful. I would love to hear about your iOS automation ideas. Share your ideas and questions in the comment section below.

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