How to Set Location-Based Reminders in iOS 13 Shortcuts

With all this iso time we have up our sleeve now is as good a time as any to invest in setting up some personal automations with iOS. While I won’t get into the differences in automations between iOS, Google and Alexa (that’s for another post) there’s some nifty automations you can do within iOS 13 Shortcuts that are location-based.

It’s my opinion that iOS is probably the closest to a more ‘intuitive’ personal automation (again, that’s for another post) whereby you set the automation instructions once and, based on certain conditions, the automation task kicks off. One of those conditions being location. Within iOS 13 Shortcuts you can set a Personal Automation that’s based on you iPhone’s location. So, for example, once you and your iPhone leaves (or arrives at) a certain location then specific automation tasks can kick on. You can activate/deactivate any of your smart home devices or initiate scripts, basic functions or other apps as part of your automation.

Some of the most common location-based automation tasks is when you leave your home to turn off lights, switch on the alarm and power down the heater/cooler. You could be even more creative and say, when you leave home between Monday – Friday around your normal leaving time for work, initiate some of your regular routines for your commute such as play a latest podcast episode, get Siri to read out your reminders .

So how do you get the goodness? Firstly go to the Shortcuts app on your iPhone. On the first screen click on the Automation button on the footer menu. If this is the first automation you’re creating you’ll be asked what kind of automation you’d like to make; select “Create Personal Automation” (if this isn’t your first click on the “+” sign on the top-right hand corner) .

Next while there is no specific location-based section for personal automation the closest equivalent is the “Travel” section which gives you a selection of choices and examples such as “When I arrive at the gym” or “When I leave for work”. Don’t let this selection however limit your ideas around location-based automations. You may have certain habits that can inform your automation as to where you are or what to do next. For example, you might initiate an office-based automation once iOS detects that you’ve connected to the work wifi.

If you do chose a more traditional location-based automation or from one within the “Travel” section you’ll then be asked to choose the specific location that should be the trigger for the automation. You can also combine this with a time range which is usually a good idea. In the “leaving for work” automation example, you could set the automation to only trigger when you leave the house during your normal work departure time (eg, between 7.30 – 8.30am). If you leave during any other time you can rest assured that your automation won’t trigger.

Once you’ve configured the location and time range (if any) you’re then taken to the next steps which is adding the action; so the thing that will happen if all conditions are met (in our example, if you leave home between 7.30am – 8.30am).

Once clicking “+ Add Action” you’ll see a bunch of options and suggestions. This is where it might get a little messy. There are a bunch options here; from as simple as opening an app and executing a specific task in the app to running a script and passing data between apps or services.

For your first automation we suggest you keep it simple and start with triggering an app and using one of the predefined actions. In our example we selected Todoist from Apps as it’s our main Task list app. From the Todoist options we select “Show all tasks for today”.

Once you select you’ll see a summary of the action. You’ll see an option to “Show when Run” which by default is set to off. Many automations can occur fully in the background and don’t (eg, connecting to a specific wifi network) need be brought forward in order for the automation to function. In this case where we want our Tasks for today from Todoist to appear we would want select on (doesn’t really make sense for this to be off!).

Moving to the next step you’ll see a summary of the of the automation. Once you’ve reviewed all you need to do is press “Done” and you’re good to go!

Of course it might be difficult to implement or even test these automations with all the lockdowns that we have to adhere to but now is a good as ever to set these automations up and test.

Automate On!

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