Apple gave Siri a much-needed boost with the addition of Shortcuts — streamlined workflows that seriously upgrade the digital assistant’s capabilities.
Shortcuts allow users to automatically tether several apps and native functions into a Siri single command. All you need is a bit of ingenuity and the Shortcuts app (available on the App Store) and the possibilities are endless.
For example, a “commute” shortcut might send a text to your significant other or roommate; start playing your favorite driving playlist; set the perfect thermostat temperature before you get home; and activate Do Not Disturb.
But what if you get pulled over during said commute? Well, an Arizona man named Robert Petersen has created a Siri Shortcut that can easily let you film and document the encounter. Tools like these are more important than ever since the Black Lives Matter movement has shed a bright light on ongoing police brutality within communities of color.
What Is It?
The shortcut is simply dubbed Police. And once you set it up, all you have to do is say “Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over.” The digital assistant will pause any currently playing music, turn down your device’s brightness, and activate Do Not Disturb.
It will also send off a text to a predetermined contact letting them know you’re being pulled over. Lastly, it starts a video recording set to an iPhone’s front-facing camera.
There are other options, too. When the recording is stopped, the shortcut can be configured to upload the video to Dropbox or sent to another predetermined contact.
Platforms that allow citizens to easily record encounters with law enforcement aren’t new — the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups have developed full-fledged apps that allow users to do so.
But a Siri Shortcut could be an even easier and more streamlined way of keeping a record of such incidents.
“It seemed to me that if you’re getting pulled over it couldn’t hurt to have a recording of the incident,” Petersen told Business Insider. “The police these days in many places have body cams, so this could be the civilian equivalent.”
Petersen said that the response has been mostly positive since he created the shortcut. It isn’t clear how many people have downloaded and used the shortcut, but a post of his showing off the recipe is currently the third most popular post on the Shortcuts Subreddit.
And some people have been customizing it to suit their own needs — especially for particularly dangerous situations.
A couple of individuals “say they’ve had issues in the past with the police, and one woman planned on using the shortcut to help with a stalker issue she was having with an ex-boyfriend so that she could send her location to family quickly should anything occur,” Petersen told Business Insider.
Petersen, a man with no background in programming, added that the beauty of Shortcuts is that anyone can create them and tailor them to their own situations and needs.
“The platform has a lot of potential, and if you read the Apple user guides and consult with others on forums, or just look at how other people’s shortcuts work and ‘reverse engineer’ them to your own needs, you can learn a lot quickly,” Petersen said.