Siri Shortcuts, the powerful automation tool released with iOS 12, enables users to create workflows that can simplify many types of tasks. These tasks range from sending messages to loved ones with an ETA when leaving a location, to controlling devices within a home. For those of us in the HomeKit ecosystem, we are all too familiar with the limited number of devices and categories that are available. Even with the advent of HomeKit software authentication, which allowed Belkin’s Wemo Mini smart plug to be retroactively added to HomeKit after being already available on the market, choices are still limited. While Siri Shortcuts are not quite a HomeKit solution, they can help bridge the gap, especially for those with a HomePod in their homes.
For the purpose of this how-to, I am going to assume that you already have the devices that you wish to create shortcuts for already set up in their respective apps. There are a couple of different ways that can be used to control these non-HomeKit devices. The first method, which has been detailed before on websites such as MacStories, involves using the Web Hooks feature within IFTTT to trigger an action for your desired device. The IFTTT method is somewhat straightforward, but can seem a little daunting at first, and requires one to not just use the IFTTT app or website, but to also create the Shortcut itself to trigger the action within the Shortcuts App. Thankfully, an easier method is available, and it comes in the form of an iOS App called Yonomi.
Now, before we begin, both the IFTTT method and the Yonomi App require some level of trust, as they are services which you sign up for, and allow them access to your devices. In my case, I am willing to look past this part as I have yearning to add a way to control my IR based electric fireplace via an App or Siri for years. With that out of the way, you will need to download the Yonomi App from the App Store, and sign up for the aforementioned account. Both the App and the service itself is free, so I am not quite sure what their business model is at this point, but creating an account requires very little information, and can be deleted fairly easily if any issues arise.
Once an account has been created, the Yonomi App will ask if you want it to scan your home network for any devices that it can integrate with. This process took just a few seconds, and it immediately found the one that I wanted, which is the Logitech Harmony Hub. Once your devices have been found, you will be asked to sign in with your account with that specific vendor to allow Yonomi access. After your account is connected you are ready to build a “routine” which is a series of steps that Yonomi will take to perform an action. Setting up a routine is easy, and starts with giving it a name. Next, you will be asked to add an Event, Action, and Condition. Events and Conditions are completely optional with regards for simple Siri control, as an Action is the only thing that is required. After selecting to add an action, it will display a list of your connected services, and once one is selected, you will see all of the available actions that can be triggered. For my setup, a list of activities that I have already set up with the Harmony App are displayed, and to build my routine to turn on my fireplace, I selected Start Activity, then selected “Fireplace On” and then tapped on save.
Now that the routine has been built, it is now time to move on to creating a Siri Shortcut to trigger it. After tapping on “Routines” at the bottom of the App, you should now see the one that has just been created. Once you have selected your routine, you should now see a “gear” or settings icon on the bottom right hand side of your screen. From this menu, you will see the option to “Add to Siri” and once selected, you will see the familiar iOS Shortcut sheet appear asking you to assign a phrase for this routine. Tapping on the red record icon in the center will allow you to record your phrase, and once completed all that is left is to tap on the Done button. Congratulations, you now have a way to summon an action for a device that isn’t compatible with HomeKit via Siri on both your iOS devices or with a HomePod. Of course, you will need to create any opposite routines for things such as turning your device off, but it can be accomplished in seconds now that you have created your first routine.
Once you have added all of your devices and created all of your routines and Shortcuts, you can even take controlling them one step further. By using the Shortcuts app, you can create a Shortcut that triggers your pre-existing HomeKit scenes as well as integrating your Shortcuts created by the Yonomi App. This enables the ability to say goodnight or any other phrase to Siri and have it turn off all the lights, lock all the doors, and turn off things such as an IR based electric fireplace all with one command. Again, while all of this is not quite HomeKit, it is pretty close, and is something that can fill the void until HomeKit is available for every device around, which still seems quite a ways off.