The iPhone 15 Pro’s big talking point is not the USB-C port (thanks, EU). It’s actually Apple’s decision to ditch the traditional mute switch for the Action Button — probably one of the biggest changes to the way I use an iPhone.
You see, as someone who lives his life with a phone permanently on silent, that switch is arguably the most pointless switch in the history of consumer electronics. To replace it with a button you can reprogram for another function immediately makes the top left of my iPhone useful again!
Most interestingly, though, is Apple’s choice to let you apply any sort of macro you create in Shortcuts to the button, which unlocks nearly unlimited options for it. However, as more uses have been found by Shortcut experts, I’m getting increasingly scared of the button too. Let me explain by breaking down the Action Button uses into three categories.
The good implementations dive into things that are genuinely useful, such as using it as a shortcut to ask ChatGPT a question, take a quick note, or even bypass Siri entirely to open Google Assistant.
Got a regular food order from Uber Eats? Setup a shortcut to get the usual from your favorite place and a simple button hold will sort it all out for you. I call this good, but I’ll say a prayer for your BMI if it's a particularly heavy meal.
If you’re a hopeless romantic, you can set it up as a “partner button,” as it is commonly called. Basically, you can map it to FaceTime anybody in your contacts, so why not set it up to immediately call your boo?
The amount of capability that Shortcuts opens when mapped to the Action Button is huge, and pro users are just scratching the surface of its potential right now. I look forward to seeing what else can be done in the future.
Next up, the ones that are completely pointless, but I gotta admit they’re pretty damn funny. For example, thanks to the app Thwip, someone has turned their prosumer device into a fart machine.
There have been other prank-based creations like this as well, such as playing the classic “badum tss” sound effect if you’re a dad joke connoisseur, and even Rick Rolling someone by opening the “Never Gonna Give You Up” music video.
Oh and if you’re feeling indecisive about what you want the button to do, you can just have it do absolutely nothing — a button for the sake of a button.
Are these useful? Hell no! Anyone who chooses these is definitely more on the chaotic evil end of the scale, but I’m all for it.
Then we get to the implementations that sound good on paper, but have some potentially ugly consequences. I’m talking about Shortcuts that are tied into certain expensive elements of your life, such as unlocking your house or your Tesla.
Now, why are these ugly? They’re convenient, right? Well, while they are, I have to put my concerns on the record about the security of these shortcuts. I totally understand that you would normally carry a key fob around with you at all times, so in terms of the risk of being pickpocketed, the risk is the same either way.
But if there are two things people are most guilty of accidentally leaving on a table in a bar, it would be their wallet/purse and their phone. To eliminate this risk, we simply need tighter controls on biometric security. If somebody is fumbling for the Action Button to open their car, make FaceID a requirement, so a robber doesn’t have access to your car and any other sensitive/expensive information you may map to that button.
As I say in my iPhone 15 Pro review, the Action Button is a breath of fresh air for interacting with your new slab — programmable to fit nicely into your optimal workflow with the phone.
But in its infancy, the functionality is not quite fully baked yet, and this slight security risk is something that will inevitably be worked out either by the app developers or Apple itself. It’s just a matter of time.
As for how much of a risk mapping certain functions to your Action Button right now, that’s a question you have to ask yourself. If it makes you nervous, then maybe that convenience is not worth gambling whatever expensive car you unlock or personal information you get instant access to.
Just map it to a fart sound and immediately improve your day.
Stay in the know with Laptop Mag
Get our in-depth reviews, helpful tips, great deals, and the biggest news stories delivered to your inbox.
Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.