We recently released our new app, Lifegain, to the iOS App Store. For the launch, I created a Twitter account to publish news about the app, drop tips-of-the-day, and interact with our users. Head on over to @Lifegainapp if you feel like checking it out for yourself.
Part of the plan was to publish daily tips, in the style of those “💡 Did you know…?” dialogs some apps have that everybody likes so much. A good way to inform users about basic functionality, maybe some in-depth usage tips, like “Tap the reset button to reset your life count and tokens, or press and hold it to also reset names and interface orientation.” Also a good way to keep @Lifegainapp alive and get people interested.
Turns out it’s super hard for someone like me, who doesn’t yet have a strong tweeting habit like some pros do (#tinyhandscheetoman), to keep up those daily posts. Some days, I couldn’t seem to find a quiet moment to write the day’s tweet, and when things did quiet down, tweeting was the farthest thing from my mind. If only there was a fast and easy way to drop those daily info tweets, maybe just by pushing a single button. 🙏🏼
Enter Siri Shortcuts. Apple released its new automation app just before my vacation started, and so I had some time to play with it during some long train rides. Impressed by some cool workflows I saw on the internet, I thought, maybe I can make something that will take that heavy tweeting off my hands.
Send Daily Tweet, a Siri Shortcut
There are several ingredients we have to get right to cook our perfect tweeting robot. And, to set your mind at ease, I’ll kill the cooking metaphor right now, before it can grow and devour us all. Bon Appetit! 😘👌🏾
1. A ready source of tweets
Since we’ll be pulling our dailies out of a collection of pre-written tweets, and since Shortcuts can access Reminders, the most natural way to store a list of tweets is to create a new list in Reminders and add each future tweet-of-the-day as an item. Give the list a fitting name; I called mine “Lifegain-Tweets”.
2. The official Twitter client
Since we will eventually need to send our tweets out into the wide wide web, we will need to install the official Twitter client to do so. My favorite (read: only) way of using Twitter is Twitterrific, but when I came up with this workflow, it didn’t integrate with Shortcuts to allow for sending tweets. Things might have changed in the meantime; if so, I’ll eventually update this article. One caveat there is: Since I want the tweets to be sent from @Lifegainapp instead of my personal account, @waldrumpus, I needed to log into the Twitter app using the account that’s going to send the tweets. This might be a problem for those who use the official Twitter app as their default Twitter app. Just sayin’.
3. Installing Siri Shortcuts
For whatever reason, Siri Shortcuts (or “Kurzbefehle” in Germany) is not part of iOS, but an independent download. Find it in the App Store and install it on your iPhone or iPad.
4. Creating the Shortcut
Time for the magic to happen. Create a new shortcut and give it a snazzy name. Then, add workflow items in the order listed below.
- Find Reminders Where List is Lifegain-Tweets (your list name here); sort by: Random; Limit: yes; Get 1 Reminder. This will grab the list we previously created and retrieve one random reminder (i.e. tweet) from it.
- Set variable Reminder. This creates a variable named “Reminder” and points it to the random tweet we extracted before so we can reference it later.
- Text Tip of the day: Reminder. #Lifegain #MTG #Magic. This creates the actual text that will be tweeted later. This is also where you get creative: You can just place the variable Reminder here, to use it as the text of your tweet, or you can go a little fancy like you see here and create a little preamble (“tip of the day: “, “did you know? “, etc).
- Tweet. This command is provided by the Twitter app. If you’ve downloaded the app just for this occasion, you might need to run the app once so it can register its shortcut commands. This very simple command is all you need to send the tweet you constructed earlier. A little graphical interface will pop up, showing you the text of the tweet and buttons for sending or cancelling.
- Get Variable Variable: Reminder Time to retrieve the reminder once again for use in the following workflow item.
- Remove Reminders. Earlier, we sent the tweet out, but remember, it’s still on our Reminders list! With this workflow item, we remove it from the list so it won’t be tweeted out a second time in the future. You will be presented with a prompt asking you if you really want to delete the Reminders item.
So that’s how my tweet-of-the-day workflow works. The hard part is sitting down once in a while for ten minutes and coming up with a handful of tweets. Once that’s done, the daily task becomes very easy: Press the Shortcut button, confirm sending the tweet, confirm deleting the reminder. Pro tip: If you use the Shortcuts lock screen widget, you don’t even have to find and open the app to press that button 😉
Let me know if this shortcut works for you, too. If you have any comments or improvements, I’d love to hear them. Tweet them at me @waldrumpus – but only hand-crafted tweets, please, not those machine-made ones. So impersonal, yuck!