One of my favorite features in iOS 12 is the new Shortcuts app and its deep integration with iOS, allowing you to create all sorts of useful automations to be more productive on your iPhone and iPad. There is a learning curve, and thus I'm sure that lots of iPhone users won't even bother to pay much attention to shortcuts. But if you are smart enough to have made it through Con Law I and the Rule Against Perpetuities part of your 1L Property class, you are more than smart enough to use the Shortcuts app. Even so, it helps to have a guide hold your hand while you get started.
California attorney David Sparks created what he calls a video field guide — a series of short video lessons, a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes — to walk you through the Shortcuts app. The course is called the Siri Shortcuts Field Guide and costs $29, although it is currently discounted to $24 during the introductory period. David gave me a free pass to the course so that I could check it out, and I'm super impressed. Whether you are starting from square 1 or you have a general sense of how shortcuts work but want to learn more (which describes me), this is a fantastic resource.
You access the course in any web browser. It was perfect to watch it on my iPad Pro, but you could also watch it on an iPhone or a computer if you prefer.
On the iPad, there is a list of chapters on the left. I'm sure that David designed the course to go through each one in order, but instead I jumped around, skipping the chapters devoted to topics that I thought I already knew. Sometimes I went back to watch that chapter anyway because I realized that I didn't know as much as I thought I knew.
The course does a great job of walking you through the Shortcuts app itself, and then it shows you how to do things with the app, including working with different types of information. In each lesson, you see David's iPad screen as he is describing to you what he is doing. There is a great interface for the videos; you can scroll your finger across the bottom to jump ahead or go back.
I particularly enjoyed the lesson in the Advanced Siri Shortcuts Tools section on creating and using variables. Before this course, I had no idea what a Magic Variable was, but after watching David describe what they do and actually create a shortcut using Magic Variables, now it all makes perfect sense to me.
I think that the best part of the course is the last main section called Useful Shorcuts. David walks you through 12 shortcuts that you might actually use, explaining how he created each one why he did what he did. You can create the shortcuts on your own by following along with David, or you can just download the complete shortcut.
One such shortcut useful to lawyers is a date calculator. The shortcut David created lets you count a certain number of days after a date or before a date, or even the number of days between dates. For me, this is so useful that I even added a Siri command to it so that I can just say "Hey Siri, date calculator" to bring it up. And now that I understand how the shortcut works, I can modify it to meet my particular needs. Here is a very short video showing me using the date calculator shortcut that David describes and provides in the lesson:
If you have any interest in creating shortcuts to increase your efficiency and accomplish tasks, I highly recommend this video course. And I especially recommend getting into this now. What Apple has already done with the Shortcuts app is amazing, but I know that it will get more useful in future updates. By getting your arms around this stuff now, you will be well-positioned to take advantage of the improvements to the Shortcuts app over the coming months and years.