Shortcut automation when *ANY* app launches

Here’s the scenario. We have five kids and one iPad. We want to limit each child to a half hour on the iPad, but keeping track of five of them using it is too much for the parents (i.e. driving us insane). Right now we ask them to start a timer when their turn begins but they “forget”. Because it’s five of them, Screentime doesn’t work because we’d be resetting it every time they hand it off to the next child so they can access all the apps.

Meanwhile, I have a Shortcut Automation on my iPad that launches the Visual Task Timer app (a Shortcuts-enabled timer) with a 1 hour timer when it detects I’ve opened a particular app. (It checks to see if a timer is already running in VTT and if not, it starts a new one; otherwise it keeps it going. This prevents the timer from resetting in case of accidental switching of apps.)

I’d like to do the same thing on the kids’ iPad, except have the automation launch when any app launches, not just a particular app. Is that possible?

I don’t know if that is possible.

But maybe you could replace the apps on screen with shortcuts that start the app, and at the same time start the timer? Just a thought.
(Hide the apps away somewhere?)

It’d be either that or create the automation for every app the children use I guess?


Interesting idea. Or I could create a Shortcut that presents a menu of the apps for them to choose from and that Shortcut itself would launch the timer, no matter which app they eventually choose. Hmm, thanks for the idea.

But that would mean I need a way to choose an app from a list and launch it, which I don’t know how to do. Back to Google!

the simplest version would be something like this

not perfect, but for starting on app and one timer it does work.

i’d look at creating a shortcut per app that they like to use.

Thank you. That’s the approach I took, i.e. a separate automation shortcut for each app.

One wrinkle with your particular shortcut is that the timer resets every time the shortcut is activated. That’s why I use the Visual Task Timer app, because it has a shortcuts hook/parameter that lets me check the status and using an if-then action, if the timer is already running, just go to the app, but if the timer is not running, start the timer.

I know, the timer is a bit weird. :slight_smile: I’ll look into your timer app, sounds interesting

I set this up but I have the shortcut post a reminder to a shared list, to make it easier to monitor remotely.

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nice idea! noted for future use!

Nice idea. I don’t know the age of the kids but a menu could show up allowing them to select their name and that could automatically be inserted in the reminder for the shared list.

That is a good idea. I wonder if I could have it take a selfie to keep them honest. :slight_smile:

Just brainstorming here, maybe if they jump through the hoops to take a selfie it could grant them an extra 5 minutes or something to that effect. Partly why I say this is it may take a few more steps and those steps might be bypassed and or canceled by the user on purpose or on accident. Thus a little incentive to follow through and not rush or cheat.

Thinking of a selfie, you could probably text your iCloud/phone number with the last photo/selfie on completion. Or just save it on device.

If this does get more complicated and interesting. It might be worth putting all this functionality into a shortcut and then select the ‘run’ action and just run this shortcut for each ‘open app’ automation you create for the kids.

Install the Circle software app. Create a profile for each kid with a 1h time limit. When one kid wants to use the iPad, a parent can “snooze” the other three kids, and “un snooze” the kid who wants to use it.

Circle will manage time limits and access controls for the kid in question. This way you can assign different permissions by age as well.