Some quality of life improvements on my iPhone

When iOS 15 dropped, I noticed that it added a feature that Shortcuts could run on their own, without user approval every time. This is a pretty major change to the way they were working before, and allows for some truly good automation.

A few months ago, I created a folder in my Photos app called Wallpapers and added subfolders called Morning and Evening. I created automation that runs at Sunrise and Sunset and sets a random wallpaper from the folders as the lockscreen wallpaper. It’s a nice way to update my lockscreen frequently.

Over time though, I got bored of the same few wallpapers, so I’ve created two more automations – these go out to source.unsplash.com and pull wallpapers using simple search terms.

Unsplash has run their free Source endpoint for a long time and even though it’s technically deprecated, they don’t prevent it’s use if you know what you’re doing. The search terms I use are –

https://source.unsplash.com/1080×1920/?Morning and

https://source.unsplash.com/1080×1920/?Sunset

Note that if you put the search term as “Evening”, it leads to some particularly Non-Family Friendly results.

So now, I’ve got 4 automations – on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I set Morning and Evening wallpapers from my local folder. On the rest of the days, I let Unsplash send me some nice wallpapers for my phone twice a day.

The best part of this is that the wallpapers from Unsplash don’t get downloaded to my phone and clutter my photos. They directly get used as wallpapers.


The other quality of life improvement I’ve made is webapps!

At some point, I found this shortcut which lets you create a fullpage standalone browser app icon on your iOS homescreen for any URL or website you pass to it.

I had just installed Amazon Luna and rocketcrab as webapps using Safari’s Add to Homescreen feature some time before that, and really like how they come off almost as proper apps (as good an app as Amazon can make, and they make some spectacularly terrible apps).

When you try to turn a website into a webapp but it doesn’t support this feature, it opens in a new tab in Safari, which takes away from the feeling of a standalone app. But the shortcut above solves that problem!

It creates a webapp using a configuration profile, which you then have to go into the settings app to accept. It’s an unsigned profile, so the risk is all yours. But you can look at what the Shortcut is doing and let me know if there are any security concerns.

One caveat – the shortcut asks for an icon image. You better have one ready when you’re using the shortcut and it has to be more than 128×128 pixel. I tried an image that was 64×64 and the icon just turned out blank.

Since I discovered this, I’ve gone on somewhat of a binge. I made webapps (or Web Clips, as iOS calls them) of three webbooks I’m reading on and off (these aren’t available as ebooks in any way). I also often have to check up on my GitHub Actions runs of a particular secret project, so I made a webapp of that direct URL. I made one of my blog, so I can easily go into the admin section and make edits to my posts in the Gutenberg editor (which still doesn’t have proper support in WordPress iOS apps). The only one I haven’t made (and thus opens in Safari) is solitaired.com and that’s basically because I got lazy. I’ll make it one of these days.


From the time I started writing this post, I made another improvement.

I don’t really like Wallpapers cluttering my photos app. Over time, they make a mess, the good ones used to get lost when I moved phones, and overall, it’s a lot of pain to manage them in the Photos app, which needs a long overdue overhaul, Apple.

I figured out that I can make a shortcut that actually picks a random file from a folder in the Files app. So I moved both the Morning and Evening folders to the iCloud Drive and now I can add any good wallpapers I find on my desktop to my phone too! šŸ™‚

I like when things fall into place nicely like this šŸ˜€

Cover art is from emoji.supply, which is a ridiculously awesome source of emoji based wallpapers!