ios 12 Shortcuts

Does the ios 12 shortcuts feature open up siri to possibly control some aspects of Simple Control?

It’s too early to say, but it looks like at least some level of Siri-controllability will be possible. We’re optimistic. At the very least, basic Activity launching looks guaranteed as it uses what we already added last year to support iOS Search. You can go in right now and type say “TiVo” into your iOS Search and see those Activities you have for TiVo. That level of information will be actionable via Siri. Exactly what else is available and what granularity is possible such as “set volume 50 in the Living Room” like you can with Alexa is unclear at this time.

1 Like

This sounds promising, hope you guys can start digging into the beta releases to hit the ground running once the new versions reach our devices!

Is there any update on Siri shortcuts support in Simple Control?

It’s ready to go. We sent it to Apple last Thursday. This is the most busy time of year though for them especially this week. It could go live in 5 minutes or 5 weeks. After 7 years and 39 days on the App Store, I’ve learned never to try to predict the App Store timing.

Siri Custom Intents was both better and worse than I had hoped last June. The best way to describe it is to say I simply use it differently than Alexa. I would say I use it as often and perhaps for more important scenarios than Alexa. Alexa is more flexible with what you can say, but with Siri CI you say exactly what you want to say so you don’t need to guess what syntax Alexa might be wanting.

How I might wake up with Alexa:
“Alexa, turn on Great Room Waffle Wakeup”
With Siri CI:
“Waffle Time” – I tend to use “hold to talk” on an iPad home button for Siri, but that would work just as well with “hey Siri…”.

Alexa has a semi-predefined syntax that we provided broad support for so you can say something like “Alexa, tell Simple Control to tune HBO in the Living Room.” With Siri, you’d need to put that into an Activity, but you’d then be able to say simply “HBO” or anything you want. Alexa does not have a “say anything you want” mode.

There are a lot of little differences. In the end, I like it. I prefer it for some things. I might prefer it for more if I didn’t have years of brain muscle memory for all the Alexa commands. If you don’t use Alexa now for Voice Control with SC, I think people will love it. Some people will use both. People in the many countries not supported by Alexa will be overjoyed.

One interesting difference is that Siri CI does not require a Hub, so if you just use one controller, more people will be able to use voice control now. Every iOS device is independent, so if you say “waffle” into a particular device, that device needs to have been setup for exactly that. On one hand, that’s better because “watch TiVo” can be setup on each room’s iPad so that there is no need to specify the room in the command as with Alexa (eg. “Watch TiVo in the Living Room”). On the other hand, it means you need to setup a fair number of commands on each device and think about whether an iOS device moves between rooms in which case you may need to vary commands or add the room name back.

The fundamental piece Apple hasn’t implemented yet is understanding what the user is trying to say from voice. They will match your pre-programmed voice recording with the Siri CI you created and it executes instantly. What they do not do is voice syntax parsing like “Alexa, tell Simple Control to set the volume to -32.5 in the Master Bedroom.” For Alexa, that command first determines the skill, Simple Control, then picks the command to ‘set volume’, then provides a variable value ‘-32.5’, and also provides a variable ‘Master Bedroom’. Alexa then accepts multiple renditions of that command. While deep support for all of that exists at the non-voice level (ie. Shortcuts app) in Siri CI, no syntax parsing exists at the voice level. That is a sizable gap between the two systems right now. We provide specific intents to mute, unmute, etc for the whole room on any Activity that should cover most use cases.

Let us know what you think (after it’s released) and what other intents you’d like to see. We focused on the voice experience in this release. No doubt there are more intents we can add with variable parameters at the non-voice level that will be useful only for Shortcuts.

Thanks Will-

Looking forward to trying out.

Would be cool in a future release for SimpleControl to have a separate section such as Siri activities that can be built but are not directly visible in the room interface (or perhaps thats how u have it set up in the upcoming app release)


Its awesome. Breakthrough!

It would be so helpful if you guys could add volume control to each room like mute and unmute since volume control is used more often that mute or unmute.

This is great. Is there any way to turn off the SimpleControl says… part.


Great work Will, I have been using shortcuts after trialing with Alexa, I feel that some functions are far superior, I have so far unlocked various home automations that we’re not Siri compatible with shortcuts and APIs.

Thank you for implementing this in the app.

I do have one slight problem, I have been trying to diagnose it a little to see where this problem sits.

I thought it may be one of the following;

  • problem with the remote config
  • caused by a custom control set recorded in blaster
  • caused by power state tracking

I have tried several methods to get away from this.

  • created a new activity
  • added a device with standard control set “sky box” used the menu button that works as a sort of discreet power on / home
  • disabled and enabled power state tracking
  • swapped IR bug ports and adjusted config

Unfortunately not got anywhere with it yet, it all starts apart from the Sky Sat box :confused:

Any ideas ? I was going to run a diagnostic next…

Siri commands in SimpleControl works just in English or in all languages that Siri supports?

Should work well in any language in any country. However, as per previous posts, there are two aspects here. There is the voice control for which the language is entirely up to you. You can say whatever you want in whatever the language of your device is and it should work fine to tie it to any command. Then there is the underlying infrastructure, things like the text that says “Starting Watch TiVo in Master Bedroom”. Some aspects of that would need localization to be truly multi-language. But as far as functionality, it’s every language/country.

You didn’t describe the actual problem but I’ll assume it’s caused by a custom infrared code set. That will be fixed in a maintenance release and is an issue right now. Meanwhile as usual half the tickets that have come in about that turned out the user didn’t even need a custom code set because better codes were already in the library. Good opportunity to try to switch back to the normal code sets.

Apologies, I didn’t merely alluded to it. It doesn’t power on the sky box.

There are no SkyQ control sets available?

There is one you can use, I tried that and it didn’t work also.

Will give it another try :slight_smile:

As I said, very impressed with the fast implementation of this.

Hope one day we can WiFi control Sky Boxes, the UKs main satellite provider…

It is also hard to see the names of the devices, so I usually switch to horizontal view but this invokes a bug where an option automatically selects and no drop downs work until you force quit and restart FYI

Consider adding the ability to add hidden activities to rooms. Add a hidden tab when editing an activity.

This would add the ability to:

  1. Create additional Siri actions not seen on the Activity panel

  2. Create multiple syntaxes for the same action. Additional activities associated with specific syntaxes are hidden

“ turn the family room off”

“ turn off the family room”

I wondered the same, but I expect apple to implement aliases.