Today I want to show you some pretty cool stuff that you can do with shortcuts on iOS.
We all know iOS is a locked-down Apple closed garden when it comes to apps and it's entire ecosystem. This is the main argument in the Android vs iOS debates and Android people will always have the ONE argument that you can modify more on Android than you can on iOS.
I'm going to take an unpopular approach and say that if you can get your hands on a cellphone which supports GrapheneOS then you can have the best privacy and security, straight out of the box. But if you buy a Samsung, Huawei or any other brand which don’t support GrapheneOS then you are stuck with the flavor of Android that the phone maker provides you with and that probably means inside the Google works! And as we all know Google probably knows more about you than your mother.
However, you can block and disable apps or even use scripts on many Android providers and for sure you can use apps like NetGuard or Adguard to block access to apps and the likes of NewPipe for your main YouTube experience. In other words, if you have a little know-how you can improve your Android phone from a privacy/security perspective. But 'out of the box' I would still argue that iOS is a more secure and private solution, especially with iOS 14.5, where we see even more of Apple's new commitment to fighting trackers.
So coming back to shortcuts. Shortcuts is an app that is sometimes overlooked but it can do some pretty cool stuff and this, in turn, can make your life more private!
Firstly, I am not a Twitter fan, in fact, it is fair to say that I am a bit of a Mastodon fanboy and that gets me into trouble on iOS. Having a nice add-on for Android that redirects every tweet link to my prefered instance of nitter is great but there is nothing that does the same on iOS. Or is there....enter Shortcuts!
This works perfectly, and you can modify the Shortcut app to make it work with any of your chosen nitter instances.
Once you have installed the shortcut you can hold a Twitter link send to any app or in the Safari browser and press the share to Nitter. The link will then be opened in Nitter and even in an isolated app instance. You can then share this link just as you would share any Nitter link with your friends using the normal share option.
Now this is a cool start, but what about YouTube you ask? Well this is also 'cut & dried'!
This is a pretty good start but if, like me, you have many sites which feature Cloudflare blocked then the easiest way is to read links which are not open via Wayback and, thankfully, there is also a solution for that.
I hope once you see how easy Wayback works you keep sharing most of the websites which have trackers via a Wayback link. I've been using it since I discovered it and hopefully my Mastodon followers enjoy reading shared articles in a more privacy and less tracked way.
Here you can find not just Wayback but many other useful shortcuts, including downloading YouTube videos etc.
These shortcuts are built by the community, so unfortunately you need to open for untrusted shortcuts. Use them all at your own risk. I use the Nitter, Wayback and Invidious shortcuts, and they work perfectly, as advertised ;)
It is worth checking the sub(teddit) of shortcuts as it has plenty of ideas and many great ways to make your share options on Safari or any app more private or allow you to get a better kick out of the iOS device you wouldn’t have expected.
As a bonus, I want to point out that the Screen Time app in Settings is much more than the name suggests. Scroll down to Content & Privacy, pop on restriction and under Privacy set all the options to Don’t allow. This way even Apple can't change your settings.
Finally, and I keep stressing this, DNS! There are great ways to use custom DNS on iOS and one of my favorite ways is NextDNS which has a simple way to have the DNS running in the background without even needing an app. Just jump over to apple.nextdns.io to get your DNS installed. Even better if you have a custom NextDNS ID.
But of course, you don’t need to use NextDNS if you prefer other options. I still recommend having them run systemwide in the back using any of those DNS providers.
As you can see it's not just about the Ant Laden gloves, but an actual real use case for iOS and if you are a 'regular' user, who needs apps for everyday usage like work or travel and don’t want to be compromising usability then iOS is a great option. Not the GrapheneOS way, but still pretty solid.