MFC Deck Widgetizes Your Shortcuts - TestFlight Public Beta Now Open!

MFC Deck widgetizes your shortcuts in a dynamic control deck, in Siri voice responses, on your Apple Watch, and (coming soon) to iOS 14 Home screen widgets.

I’m happy to announce that the public beta of MFC Deck is now available for testing via TestFlight. The current beta is optimized for iOS 13, since I’m targeting a release prior to general availability of iOS 14. Pricing is yet to be determined.

A brief list of features of the app is copied below. For detailed information, I refer you to the MFC Deck documentation:

  • Cards: Display your shortcuts in MFC Deck as cards in three sizes (small, medium, and large).

  • Decks: Create multiple collections of cards in nest-able decks.

  • Card Actions: Tapping on a card can perform a number of actions, including running shortcuts with parameters, switching decks, and opening URLs. Multiple cards can run the same shortcut with different input parameters.

  • Presentation: Display your cards visually the same way across MFC Deck, Siri voice responses, Apple Watch, and (soon) iOS 14 Home screen widgets. Specify custom backgrounds, images, text, symbols, and even offer tappable controls. If you can write a simple HTML page, you can create great looking cards.

  • Customization: Choose from a wide variety of deck layouts for displaying your cards.

  • Availability: Restrict a card’s availability to certain days and times

  • Rate Limiting: Set how frequently a card’s action can run in seconds, minutes, hours, or days.

  • Triggers: Run shortcuts automatically when MFC Deck’s Trigger Server is activated and in the foreground.

  • NFC Tags: Run multiple actions from a single NFC Tag. Create decks that map to physical NFC decks.

  • Custom Actions: Control MFC Deck from your own shortcuts.

Screenshot Examples

Here are some screenshots that give a taste of what’s possible with MFC Deck. I’m looking forward to seeing what the community can come up with!

Dashboard: Break free from having all your shortcuts looking the same except for their color and icon. Go from this view in the Shortcuts app to these views in MFC Deck! Create a dashboard of shortcuts that display relevant and up-to-date information throughout the day.

Go from this view in Shortcuts to these views in MFC Deck

The same MFC Deck card, as presented in-app, in Siri, on Apple Watch, and (soon) in iOS 14 Home screen widgets.

Siri Response Cards: When you’re on the go, configure your shortcuts to present their content right within a Siri voice response — no need to leave your current app!

Making a visual Siri response is now super easy

NFC Decks: MFC Deck makes working with NFC tags easy and fun. Screenshot depicts a text editing deck that operates on the contents of the clipboard. Since running shortcuts via NFC tags can work in the background, all you have to do is tap on the tag and watch the clipboard change without leaving your current application. You can create multiple decks that control the same NFC tag. Switch to a different deck, and the tag does something completely different.

Apple Watch Decks: Your cards are also available for viewing on Apple Watch. Get a look at the state of your cards with just a glance.

macOS Application Decks: Control applications on your macOS computer using MFC Deck and the MFC Deck Key Command shortcut. The screenshots below show two decks, one for controlling the macOS Mail application and another controlling the OBS Studio streaming application.

6 Likes

Thanks @adamtow for providing the beta :+1:
I’ll enjoy trying it out.

I’m so impressed and excited by this, and also completed daunted by the power and complexity. @adamtow, what’s your preferred venue for feedback/discussion/stupid questions?

-Stu

@RosemaryOrchard will be creating a dedicated MFC Deck section in the forum. Until then, feel free to ask questions in this thread.

I’ll also be answering questions on Twitter at @mfcdeck and a subreddit https://reddit.com/r/MFCDeck. If you have something you want to send privately, you can use the Feedback link in MFC Deck > Settings.

It’s a complex app for sure, but very, very powerful. Definitely look at the sample shortcuts in the documentation: https://mfcdeck.com/docs/#sample-shortcuts They form a good starting point for learning how this works.

It works best right now on iOS 13. Going to be getting an iOS 14 test device this week and will begin my optimization (have been testing on an iPad mini which seems to be more stable with iPad OS 14 than iOS 14).

Looking forward to your questions!

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Great, thanks! I got fairly far modifying the Battery Level example, and had a few successful runs. But now when I tap on any of my corresponding cards, the MFC Helper Shortcut runs, but the cards don’t update. This is true of the Battery Level example as well.

Any help with that would be appreciated, and then my next question is, how can I make those cards refresh themselves? Or is that going to be an iOS 14 thing?

-Stu

They normally should refresh. I’m making some changes in the next beta release which should improve things as well. In the meantime, give your device a shake, which forces a refresh of all cards in the deck.

When you run one card, it will only refresh that card when MFC Deck Helper returns to MFC Deck.

If you want to refresh all cards, you can also add a Refresh Cards action to your shortcuts.

Let me know if any of those tips work.

Thanks! After restarting my iPhone they are refreshing as designed. The shake trick is nice, but I wonder if a deck should have a setting to refresh when opened?

Getting everything to sync properly is something I’m still working on improving and getting to be rock solid.

Normally it should detect when you open the app to grab the latest changes. I’m also adding a pull to refresh in the next beta release.

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Do you want people who are using iOS 14 Dev betas to test this or not?

It works better on iPad OS 14 Beta but it’s a little buggy on iOS 14 Beta. Give me a few days to get some optimizations in for 14, as I just got a test device. If you have any iOS 13 devices, feel free to load it up on those.

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@adamtow I would like to understand better what “refresh” means. I would have thought it would mean to re-run all Shortcuts associated with Shortcut cards, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least not always.

Refresh refreshes the display of cards. It does NOT run all the shortcuts in the deck.

If you want to do that, I suggest using the MFC Deck Autocuts shortcut. What this does is given a deck, it runs all actions of cards in the deck. To prevent recursion, don’t place this as a card in the deck that you want to “refresh”. I would bind it to a personal automation that can run automatically (i.e. DND, Open App, etc.).

For instance, if you want to run all of your cards whenever you open Safari, create a Personal Automation for Open App > Safari. And have actions be:

Text Action = Name of your Deck
Run Shortcut = MFC Deck Autocuts

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I just signed up for the ios14 beta TestFlight on my iPhone XS Max. Will do the same on my iPad Pro 11"

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Latest beta of the app (build number 15) has preliminary support for iOS 14 Home screen widgets. App is much more stable now on iOS 14 as well.

For those still on iOS 13, please use build number 14, as build 15 will not run on iOS 13.

Updated MFC Deck TestFlight Beta to Build 22 (for iOS 14) and Build 21 (for iOS 13).

  • Added Album (River) to the list of albums.
  • Added Update Cards action in Action Sheet.
  • Color cascades to sub-items in Card Result JSON.
  • Added ability to specify shortcut by string in Create Card action.
  • Added ability to specify card icon and color in Create Card action.
  • Widgets should be back in iOS 14.

In addition, I encourage you to download and try out the Mac App Controller for MFC Deck shortcutto see how you can easily create decks that control apps on your Mac. Requires the MFC Deck Key Command shortcut.

You can inspect the Mac App Controller shortcut to see how you can quickly create your own shortcuts that install decks and cards so you don’t have to manually create them within the MFC Deck app itself.

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Using the iOS 14 beta I have digitized some of my Shortcuts for the home screen. The question is how can I get these widgets to update periodically and not leave the home screen to do it?

You need to run the shortcut that updates the card’s JSON result object. Then, you can call the Update Widgets action from MFC Deck to update the cards. Unfortunately, iOS still will determine how often a widget can update. It could be 15 minutes or it could be an hour. A card viewed in MFC Deck will always display its most recent JSON card result, so going to MFC Deck will always show the latest.

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Thank you for your reply but I have to admit that I’m still not sure what to do. I have a shortcut which queries a temperature sensor and produces a result. I have an MFC card which calls that shortcut and puts the result on the card. I now have an iOS 14 widget which shows that temperature result. What I am still not clear about is what actions in shortcut I need to run to update the widget. You said to run the shortcut that updates the cards Json object, but what shortcut is that? And the update widget action is something I don’t see in shortcuts. Sorry if this should be obvious but I guess one of the things that will be needed before you come out with your final release is more extensive documentation (at least for people like me :slight_smile:
By the way, with respect to documentation, I would suggest creating a wiki with initial documentation and giving people the ability to add information about their particular use cases, shortcuts, MFC deck set ups, etc.