Apple's Shortcuts app has been in beta testing and available to developers since July, and over the course of the beta testing period, Apple has been slowly adding new features through Shortcuts beta updates.
The latest beta, number four, is a significant update that introduces iCloud syncing for Shortcuts for the first time. Prior to today's beta, Shortcuts created on one device wouldn't sync to another, an issue that's now been solved.
According to the update's release notes, Apple has also fixed issues that prevented Shortcuts that change system settings, access the clipboard, or use current location from working. Shortcuts that include Health actions are also now able to open the Shortcuts app when run from Siri, something that wasn't available before.
MacStories has dug into the new beta and says that in addition to these changes, there have been major improvements to dictating text.
Big improvements to the Dictate Text action in Shortcuts beta 4 – dictation can now stop automatically after a pause AND you can dictate from the widget (!!). This is very very good. pic.twitter.com/fFEI6kLW2y — Federico Viticci (@viticci) August 30, 2018
For those unfamiliar with Shortcuts, it's a new Siri feature that lets you create multi-step shortcuts using first and third-party apps that can be activated by Siri voice command. So, for example, you can create a shortcut to do something like turn on the thermostat at home using the Nest app, text your roommate that you're on the way with Messages, and open up the Maps app with directions home all with a single "I'm going home" Siri command.
Shortcuts are deeply customizable, with third-party apps able to expose a series of quick actions to Siri that can be incorporated into your Shortcuts recipes.
Prior to releasing the Shortcuts app to the public, Apple plans to add other features, such as the ability to share shortcut links and a more expansive list of actions.
Shortcuts will be released when iOS 12 sees its official launch. Until then, the Shortcuts app is limited to developers.