Tutorial: adding iOS 12 Siri Shortcuts to your app - easy way

Hi everyone!

In this short tutorial we'll learn how to add Siri Shortcuts via NSUserActivity — the easiest approach. We will make an app and a shortcut for that app which will allow Siri to launch the app and make it's view red when you say 'Hey Siri, change view color'.

First, create a new XCode project using a Single View app template.

Then you will need to enable Siri in 'Capabilities' section of your project's settings.

After that let's add a NSUserActivityTypes field of array type to your info.plist file. Add one member to that array with string value of '(your bundle id).makeRed'.

The last step of project configuration is adding Intents.framework to Linked Frameworks and Libraries

Now let's ged down to the code!

Open your ViewController.swift file and add a public makeViewRed() function that will change our view's background color to red.

Next we should import Intents and add an IBAction function for a button that will actually call makeViewRed() so we could test it and also it will configure a NSUserActivity instance for Siri.

Let's see what's going on here.

  • First — we create an instance of NSUserActivity with activity type matching the one we've specified in our info.plist file.
  • Then we set the title of that activity. This title will be visible to user in Spotlight search and the list of Siri shortcuts.
  • We may also add a userInfo dictionary with some payload that will be passed to our app when Siri launches it via shortcut. However there are some limitations to what kind of values this payload may store, please find the list of supported types here.
  • We should always set isEligibleForSearch and isEligibleForPrediction to true in order to be able to use this activity as a shortcut.
  • We have to also specify the persistentIdentifier in order to distinguish activities from one another and be able to delete them from Siri.
  • And lastly — we set this activity to our ViewController's view and also call becomeCurrent() method.

All these steps will make Siri to 'remember' this action and later suggest it to our user.

Now let's hook up an actual button to our IBAction in storyboard and try everything out!

The IBAction is actually working and you now should be able to see this activity in Spotlight search and even create a shortcut with it. Way to go!

There is one little thing left — actually handling that shortcut in our app when Siri launches it.

To do that just add application(_:continue:restorationHandler:) to your AppDelegate.swift and from there call makeRed() function on your ViewController.

Now lets create a shortcut for our activity in Siri & Search iOS settings and see now it handles it!

In the video above you may see a demo of this project in action. I had to change the shortcut phrase to "Change view color" because I cold not make Siri recognise 'red' as 'red' and not as 'read'

As you may see, adding a basic shortcuts functionality to your app is z breeze, but there is more to it and we'll definitely cover that in future tutorials!

You may find a full source code for this tutorial in my repo on github.

Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments! :)

UX designer at Termius