Taking my first steps (stumbling) with iOS automation

I’m late to the table trying out automation on iOS. I’ve just purchased The @MacSparky Siri Shortcuts Field Guide, and have been going through this most of the day.

I’ve created several phone shortcuts , so I can dial them using Hey Siri.
When I dial these by voice, sometimes “Running your shortcut” is announced, before dialing, other times, “Calling (person’s name)” is announced before dialing.

Before the calls are actually dialed, I can hear Siri rying to say something, but the audio gets cut off and the call is displayed.

There is very little in each of these shortcuts that can be changed, other than the name of the shortcut, and the phone number, yet, I get slightly different behavior from each of these shortcuts that I’ve created.

Hi Tony,

Congrats on entering the world of iOS automation. If the shortcuts are fairly short I’m guessing they might fit into the size of a single screenshot. If you could take a screenshot and share it with us or even better go into the share sheet on the specific shortcut itself and share it which will give you an iCloud link that you could paste here then we will be able to take a look and see why you might be getting different behaviour from your shortcuts.

1 Like

If I say “hey Siri, call John Smith”, and I have John Smith in my contacts (with one contact number), I get a calling John Smith response. No shortcuts defined.

If I have a shortcut for “Call John Smith” defined, then when I say "hey Siri, call John Smith, I’ll get the running your shortcut response.

My best first guess is therefore you either don’t need to define any shortcuts, or you need to change the trigger phrases. That I think would sort out consistency of response and what Siri is doing.

But I may be wrong and it’ll probably come down to what your activation phrases are.

The fact that it is inconsistent and applies to very simple Shortcuts points to it being a trigger issue rather than a process issue, as the latter would occur every time rather than just sometimes.

Hope that helps.


I’ve thought about that but don’t want to publicly show the names and phone numbers of those people. I’ll just make a copy and change both, before posting


This is a different shortcut than the one I mentioned about the phone numbers. I’ll get back to those shortly.

The problem with this shortcut is that it doesn’t always turn Bluetooth on, so I need to do it manually. I thought adding the delays would help but they do not.
Do you have any suggestions? This is pretty simple, I don’t see how it cannot work.

I use this shortcut when I leave hone or work. Turning off WiFi isn’t really needed, it’s just a safeguard in case I accidentally left it on.

The settings screen:

Does anyone have any ideas why this script isn’t reliable 100% of the time?

Doesn’t anyone have any suggestions? This is the automators forum, and the scripts I’ve posted are very basic - yet not working reliably.

Did the first response I posted above have any relevance to the first set of issues you described? Were you able to resolve those using that? You noted above that you would come back to those…

The second issue of hardware interaction is a bit harder to address. We’d need to try and reproduce it or you would need to provide more information on hardware and discernable patterns … as none of us have the device to try things with ourselves.

I’ve tried the WiFi and Bluetooth actions myself, without the wait, on my iPad Pro 9.7" and on my iPhone 8+. I gave them each maybe 5-6 goes when you first posted and another 20 goes each (I counted this time), and in a variety of inital and final statuses my devices switched to the appropriate modes correctly each time. There could still be a bug in Shortcuts that could be the issue, but until a pattern is established on your device, or through a wider group of users the sample data simply isn’t broad enough to get the right sort of insight.

If you’re just looking for something proactive to try, then the first thing would be an uninstall and reinstall of the app. After that it would be a factory reset. But I think getting more data might help.

Are you seeing any other simlarly peculiarly ‘intermittent’ issues with any other shortcuts you have? If so perhaps we could reproduce something using those?

I’ve stopped using the phone shortcuts. I’ll post those anyway, once I changed the names and numbers.

I use the podcast shortcut 2 times a day. However, since it’s unreliable, I just tell Siri to turn Bluetooth on and off. The podcast app picks up where it left off.

If I uninstall shortcuts, won’t I lose all of my shortcuts?

I haven’t made any other shortcuts, because these aren’t working. The phone number and podcast were my first two and that I tried, and that’s where I’ve stopped.

  • Your shortcuts should be syncing to iCloud.
  • What phrase are you using to trigger your shortcut?
  • Does it work reliably if you trigger by a method other than voice?

Based on something in that last response, I’m once again left wondering if you’re trigger phrase is conflicting with an ‘inbuilt’ Siri command.

1 Podcast Mode
2 yes.

When I intentionally ask Siri to “play podcast”, she tells me I haven’t subscribed to any, because she is using the Apple podcast app,which I don’t use.

Right, it doesn’t look like you’ll run into a name clash with that phrasing, but I think the next thing to try is to see if it works consistently for you if you have a “Continue in Shortcuts App” as your first action.

What you’ve noted is that this isn’t so much an issue with the custom shortcut, but more with triggering the custom shortcut in a particular way.

This could be a memory issue, a Siri issue, a niche Shortcuts bug, a general software glitch, or, I guess, even something errant with the hardware, but hopefully this next test will give another insight if you can try it out for a little while and report back.