Apple scoops up acclaimed automation app Workflow
- Apple Inc. has acquired app automation tool Workflow, according to a report in TechCrunch. Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed. The deal not only brings Workflow’s app to the technology colossus, but also its highly touted team of Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, Ayaka Nonaka and Nick Frey.
- Workflow employs a drag-and-drop interface for users to create their own workflows. By meshing multiple apps, WRCB explains it automates tasks people do all the time on their devices. CNBC spells out that Workflow allows users, for example, to press a single button to request an Uber at a predetermined location, or fashion a GIF from five recent photos. Workflow’s app is available in the App Store, and Apple has slashed its price from $2.99 to free.
- Apple could leverage Workflow’s capabilities in a variety of ways. TechCrunch anticipates Workflow could enhance Siri and attract people to handle their tasks on their Apple Watch devices. TheStreet postulated Apple could release pre-made workflows and third-party developers could cook up bundled workflows. TheStreet also conjectured that Workflow could be built into future versions of iOS.
Apple has heaped praise on Workflow, which won an Apple Design Award in 2015, for its iOS accessibility features. In handheld environments in which apps generally operate in isolation, Workflow merges their most in-demand activities in intuitive interfaces. Apps have acted jointly before — Macworld delves into extensions letting apps lend functionality to each other for photo editing and data sharing, among several purposes — but Workflow’s appeal is that it makes app integration possible for the masses with limited time constraints.
The purchase of Workflow comes after the departure of Apple automation expert Sal Soghoian in October, which left open questions about the company’s dedication to automation advancements. CNBC stated, “Soghoian had been critical of using tools like app extensions to replicate the Automator function on Mac.” Techradar defines Automator as an application that produces workflows to mimic repetitive tasks. The Workflow acquisition seems to put to rest at least some of the debate around Apple and automation.
Industry observers praised Apple’s pick-up of Workflow as having the potential for a significant impact. Key to realizing that impact will be how well Apple is able to leverage Workflow to deliver on Tim Cook's plan of "iOS everywhere." Writing in Computerworld, Jonny Evans said it isn’t a stretch to “imagine Workflows — when supported at a deep level inside the OS — enabling actions to be initiated from an iOS device that are subsequently completed across all your systems, including your Mac.”