5 ways to make App Shortcuts discoverable in iOS 16

by: | Oct 5, 2022

[Editor’s note: This is the second of three blog posts in a series about implementing App Shortcuts and App Intents in iOS 16.]

In the first part of this series, we explained step-by-step instructions how to implement App Intents and Shortcuts into an example grocery app called Lemon🍋. One of the biggest benefits of App Shortcuts in iOS 16 is that developers can enable them by default in their app, and users don’t have to do any extra setup.

However, users still need to know that Shortcuts for your app exist – along with the key phrases they can use to activate them via Siri. In this post, we’ll share best practices to help your users to discover your App Shortcuts, including iOS tools that can help.

1. Use the Shortcuts app

One of the ways App Intents and App Shortcuts can be discovered is through the Shortcuts app. Users can create their own custom shortcuts for an app with those App Intents. Here’s how our Lemon app App Intents (created in the first post of this series) appear inside the Shortcuts app:

example App Intents in the Shortcuts app

Shortcuts app showing list of App Intents from the Lemon app: Check Order Status, Open Department, and Place Order.

The App Shortcuts we created are also available in the Shortcuts app:

example App Shortcuts in the Shortcuts app

Shortcuts app showing the App Shortcuts from example the Lemon app. 

See how every variation of our App Shortcuts is available. For our “Open Department” App Shortcut, the system created an App Shortcut for each department we provided, such as, “Open Fresh Produce on Lemon,” “Open Dairy and Eggs on Lemon,” etc.

The system also displays these App Shortcuts on Spotlight when the user searches for our app.

2. Leverage Siri’s ‘What can I do here?’

In iOS 16, a user can ask Siri, “What can I do here?” when they are using any app. Siri responds, “Here are a few things you can try,” and then provides a list of App Shortcuts.

a list of App Intents suggested by Siri to try

A user says, “What can I do here” while the Lemon app appears in the background. Siri responds, “Here are a few things you can try.” A view is displayed above the dialog with three possible App Shortcuts. There’s also an option to “Show me more.” 

Since our app only has three App Shortcuts, Siri shows all of them on the list. If we had more than that, only the first three in our AppShortcuts struct would appear.

The user can also say, “Show me more,” and Siri will provide a longer list of options.

more things to try with Siri and an app in iOS 16

A user says, “Show me more,” and Siri responds, “Here are some additional things to try.” A view is displayed above the dialog with a long list of available App Shortcuts, including all three App Shortcuts from Lemon and a few shortcuts from other apps.

Since all App Shortcuts from our app were already displayed on the list, Siri suggests useful App Shortcuts from other apps.

But what if the user doesn’t regularly use the Shortcuts app and is still not familiar with asking Siri what they can do in our app? This is where Siri Tips come in.

3. Add SiriTipView and SiriTipUIView

Perhaps the most important way we can increase the discoverability of our App Shortcuts is by adding SiriTipView and SiriTipUIView to our app. The Siri Tip view suggests a particular App Shortcut to the user at an appropriate time. In our Lemon app, we’ve added a Siri Tip to the Orders screen, below the list of orders, which lets the user know they can ask Siri where their order is.

SiriTipView(
  intent: OrderStatusIntent(),
  isVisible: $viewModel.isSiriTipViewVisibleForOrderStatus
)
.siriTipViewStyle(.dark)
.scenePadding()

Since our Lemon app was built with SwiftUI, we’re using a SiriTipView to display our Siri Tip. There’s a SiriTipUIView available for UIKit apps as well. We create the SiriTipView, which passes an instance of the App Intent we’re suggesting to the user. Since the user can dismiss the Siri Tip, we also provide a binding to control whether the Siri Tip is visible or not.

We can configure our Siri Tip to have a dark or light appearance using the siriTipViewStyle modifier, or we can omit it and the system will automatically pick an appearance based on the current color scheme. We’ve also added padding to our Siri Tip, so that it doesn’t extend to the edges of the screen.

Siri Tip of an App Shortcut

A Siri Tip appears near the bottom of the Orders screen to inform the user they can ask Siri ‘Where is my Lemon order?”

See how the Siri Tip uses the Siri logo and design style that users are already familiar with. Users will immediately recognize that this app provides functionality through Siri, and are encouraged to learn how to trigger that functionality. Siri Tips are a very powerful way to inform users what Shortcuts your app has, at the right time and in the right context of usage.

4. Tap into ShortcutsLink and ShortcutsUIButton

Another way to promote the discoverability of App Shortcuts is through the ShortcutsLink. The ShortcutsLink is a system button that, when tapped, opens the Shortcuts app and displays a list of all of the App Shortcuts. There’s also a ShortcutsUIButton counterpart available for UIKit apps.

the Shortcuts Link button to display the App Shortcuts

The ShortcutsLink button near the bottom of the Departments screen will show all of the Lemon app’s shortcuts when tapped. 

See how this ShortcutsLink button also has the Siri logo and design style that users are already familiar with.

5. Market your App Shortcuts and App Intents

Last but not least, you can use more traditional app marketing techniques to let users know about your App Shortcuts and App Intents, outside of the app experience itself. These can increase the use of these features, and also attract new users to download your app.

These marketing activities include:

  • Send app notifications to those who have enabled notifications for your app, linking users to your app’s UI.
  • Use social media to promote your App Shortcuts and App Intents and link to your app (or the App Store).
  • Send emails to users (who have opted-in) and explain how they can use App Shortcuts and Siri to engage with your app.
  • Highlight some of the use cases supported by Siri in your app during the onboarding experience.

Want to learn more about App Shortcuts and Intents in iOS 16?

Now we’ve covered how App Intents can help increase user engagement, how to implement App Shortcuts and Intents, and provided tips how to make those App Shortcuts more discoverable. In our next post, we’ll cover best practices to implementing App Shortcuts and Intents. Make sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to learn about new blog posts.

And if you’d like to leverage iOS 16’s App Shortcuts and Intents in your app contact us for a free consultation.