How Quick Commands Changed the Apple Ecosystem for the Better
In macOS 12, the Commands app came from iOS and iPadOS. An ordinary phenomenon these days. But almost a third of the presentation of the new version of the system was devoted to this common phenomenon at the opening of WWDC. Two minutes out of seven. They introduced macOS 12 superficially, which is why it is considered a minor upgrade – and some application was given so much time. The Commands app, in the original Shortcuts, is not an “app”. It is a whole technology, scripting language and infrastructure for its application. Craig did not hide the fact that in macOS this application will be slightly different from in iOS. We now know more about Commands for macOS than we did at the beginning of June – it really is something special.
MacOS has scripting languages under the hood. Recently, for some reason, they began to get rid of them. No, it’s not difficult to install them (with Homebrew, for example). They haven’t been shipped with new versions of macOS, or haven’t been updated – for years. But this is not for everyone, for the smartest. MacOS has a proprietary scripting language for everyone. AppleScript, with a powerful framework – the Automator application. In which the authors of “Teams” borrowed the idea. MacOS is a paradise for professionals who use all this wealth easily and willingly. Ordinary users did not understand even the simplified to the limit Automator, it is too difficult.
“Teams”, though under a different and not so stupid name, were the first in the history of Apple to successfully overcome this psychological barrier. Moreover, in iOS. In the most spoiled part of the Apple ecosystem. iOS who just does not use, I do not mean you. And despite the clarity of the application and its external simplicity, it has endless potential. macOS sorely lacked a scripting language with an infrastructure integrated into the operating system that everyone – the smartest and the rest of us – could use. Now there is such a language, and it is built into the macOS 12 infrastructure.
Why do you need Quick Commands?
In 2014, the Workflow application appeared in the App Store . Translated – “workflow”. It was paid – but they asked for absolutely ridiculous money. Its authors had nothing to do with Apple, the application violated a dozen App Store bans, but it was sold in the App Store. The application was developed by students of the University of Michigan. Their app won the Apple Design Award in 2015.
In 2017, Apple acquired the rights to Workflow, I hope Apple is not greedy. In September 2018, the application was released under a new name – “Teams”. Or “Commands” for Siri, since the only way to run scripts was with Siri commands. The only way to associate Siri with your own workflows was with Commands. In 2019, Commands for iOS became a built-in application with more capabilities.
Differences between Quick Commands for iOS and macOS
Surely something else, but the main difference (from my point of view) is that in macOS they can work with command shells and UNIX scripts, with URLs, and apparently not only. But the main sources of “actions” (from which scripts are composed), most likely, at first, will be the same as in iOS / iPadOS. This is Apple – in the box there is a decent set of actions from the manufacturer. And macOS app developers who are ready to share some of their apps’ functionality with the “scriptwriters”.
There is one more source: actions from Automator can be imported into “Commands”. Convert and add to the list of available ones. Those who actively use Automator have accumulated huge collections of actions for it, written by them or someone else, including very useful ones. There is no such possibility in “Teams” for iOS / iPadOS.
Can I make my own quick commands?
Apple has not yet decided whether it is worth doing. Maybe application developers willing to share with the Teams some of their skills will be enough. Just in case, sample projects for Xcode creating actions for “Teams”. It seems to me that in many cases it is easier to create your own actions than to search for suitable ones in other people’s applications. Actions for Automator could be written in AppleScript or Objective-C. I wrote several pieces, but I don’t remember the details.
In the case of Automator, this was possible and demanded. Actions for Automator even hosted the Mac App Store. The required actions could be found and purchased in the App Store. In 2016 or 2017, a former colleague of mine did not take action for Automator, reporting that this form of software was “abolished”. In 2016, Apple stopped developing AppleScript. There will be no more bug fixes and upgrades, especially new versions. Until this scripting language dies a natural death, no one will interfere with it.
Updating Quick Commands
In macOS, Teams will teach you new tricks. They will skate on the creation of complex smart scenarios. Will come up with new ways to create actions. And Apple’s operating systems, for some time now, have been united by a common architecture. The software for them, as before, is written in macOS. The role of another professional Apple system these days claims iPadOS. Slowly but surely, she is getting closer to that goal.
The developer toolkit is coming to iPadOS 15. Limited so far, but this is just the beginning. And everything new that will appear in the “Teams” application/technology in macOS will also be in demand in iPadOS. It would be natural to write actions on iPad for iPadOS and iOS. Improvements in the Teams app/technology may be interesting for iOS as well. And not only. As a result, the ecosystem will have a common scripting language “for everyone”, understandable and simple, but capable of solving the most complex problems.