Apple acquires automation app Workflow -- but what are its plans?

Magdalena Petrova

When a big company buys up a small one, there is usually a good reason. 

That is why people are wondering what Apple has in mind for automation app Workflow.  The tech giant has acquired the smaller company and is not only continuing to offer the app, but doing so for free. But what is Apple's endgame? 

In IT Blogwatch, we automate the answer. 

So what is happening? John Ribeiro has some background:

Apple has acquired...Workflow...which allows iOS users to trigger a sequence of tasks across apps with a single tap.
Workflow...allows create workflows that interact with the apps and content on the device. It won an Apple design award in 2015 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Sounds interesting. Can we get more details on how the app works, though? Milen Y. has some info:

Workflow is a personal automation tool that lets you combine actions via a drag and drop interface to create “workflows” of actions on your could set up a Workflow widget with a handful of buttons that let you perform complicated actions...with a single tap.

And why is that a big deal? Biz Carson knows why:

Workflow takes a complicated series of tasks...and lets users press one button to get the job done. For example, if you want to let someone know you're running late, you can use the "running late" workflow to automatically find your next calendar event, get the travel time, create a text and fire off a message.
It's so powerful that...Business Insider's Alex Heath...said it could potentially replace entire apps on your home screen.

So why is this acquisition important? JR Torres explains:

Workflow has always operated in a rather gray area of iOS, enabling actions that otherwise were not allowed or possible...There was always worry that Apple would make this or that change that would effectively render features moot. On the other hand, Workflow is one of the most popular power user apps in the market, so Apple...had to tread carefully. But in the ultimate show of approval, Apple has acquired Workflow, which is a rather surprising move for a company that usually prefers to create its own versions of features that effectively kill off third-party apps.

So what happens now? Vigneshravi Menon fills us in:

Though the terms of the deal were not disclosed, what is interesting to know is that Apple isn't killing off the product. On the contrary, Apple will be adding the three-member team of Workflow into its fold...[and] Apple will be making the tool available for free.

And do we know what Apple is going to do with Workflow? Not specifically, but there are some ideas floating around. Bryan Chaffin shares one:

Apple’s acquisition...has people excited about both the legacy app and its future as a built-in technology...for instance...Workflow’s technology could be used to dramatically increase Siri’s functionality.

Alright, I think we are up to speed. Anything else we should know about the app? Matt Swider has one thing to add:

It just workflows.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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