Apple has acquired Workflow, a popular iOS app for automating common actions on iPads and iPhones.
The app, which fills a similar niche on iOS to services such as IFTTT on the web and Apple’s own Automator on desktop, was highly praised by its users, and by Apple itself, which commended its developers with a design award in 2015.
The acquisition is unusual, by Apple’s standards, since the app will continue to be available on the App Store. Now though it will be free to download for all users. Equally unusual is the fact that Apple confirmed the acquisition, with Workflow’s developer Ari Weinstein saying in a statement that he was “thrilled to be joining Apple”.
In its statement confirming the acquisition, Apple praised the accessibility features of Workflow, “in particular an outstanding implementation for VoiceOver with clearly labeled items, thoughtful hints and drag/drop announcements, making the app usable and quickly accessible to those who are blind or low-vision”.
Some things never change, however. Following the deal, a Workflow update removed a number of features relating to compatibility with Google’s services. A mapping feature was swapped to use Apple Maps, a translate tool was altered to use Microsoft Translate, and Workflow can no longer be used with the iOS version of Google Chrome.
Also removed are integrations with read-later app Pocket, messaging services Line and Telegram, and minicab service Uber.
Workflow has long been recommended as an important app for those who need to do serious work using their phone. It lets users chain together a series of actions, such as creating a short text report, saving a copy in Dropbox, and texting it to a set of numbers, then carry them out with the tap of a button.
In 2014, the Verge’s Sean O’Kane wrote: “With only a half-hour of familiarity I was able to set up a workflow that can find the locations of meetings I might have on any given day, pull images of the buildings they’re in from Google Street View, and email them all to me.”
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