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article imageApple acquires popular automation app Workflow

By James Walker     Mar 23, 2017 in Technology
Apple has confirmed it has acquired Workflow, a successful iOS automation app that lets you link various devices and services together into complex processes. Apple had previously recognised Workflow's developers in its app design awards.
The news was reported by TechCrunch late yesterday evening. Although financial details haven't been announced, the deal is said to have been a "solid payday" for Workflow's team and investors. It had previously acquired funding believed to be in the region of "a couple million" dollars in a seeding round.
Workflow has been heralded as one of the best examples of an exclusive iOS app that manages to cleverly extend the ecosystem. It rivals the well-known multi-platform automation services IFTT and Zapier. Workflow is the better choice for many iOS users though, featuring a simplistic and accessible design that won an Apple Design Award in 2015.
Apple referenced the award it gave to Workflow while confirming the acquisition. In a statement to TechCrunch, the company described the app as "outstanding," noting that it makes even its complex features available to every user.
"The Workflow app was selected for an Apple Design Award in 2015 because of its outstanding use of iOS accessibility features, 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," the company said.
WorkFlow lets you combine different actions in apps and services into a single multi-step process. These then show up as action buttons in iOS' notification shade. You could set up workflows to send someone a message that you're running late, transfer your latest photo to a cloud storage service or start playing a playlist.
While simple on the surface, Workflow also includes detailed macro facilities that let power users create more complex workflows. The app can integrate with many third-party services, a feature Apple intends to retain after the acquisition.
Apple hasn't said how it will incorporate Workflow into its own technology. It's easy to imagine Workflow finding a home as a core component of iOS in a future release, perhaps integrating with Siri to unify automation. Apple has already begun the first step in making Workflow's tech available to everyone. The company has made the app free to download, letting any iOS user give it a try.
From Workflow's perspective, creator Ari Weinstein said the company is looking forward to collaborating with Apple. The team will now begin to follow a new direction that will see Workflow ascend to "the next level."
"We are thrilled to be joining Apple," said Weinstein to TechCrunch. "We’ve worked closely with Apple from the very beginning, from kickstarting our company as students attending WWDC to developing and launching Workflow and seeing its amazing success on the App Store. We can’t wait to take our work to the next level at Apple and contribute to products that touch people across the world."
Unusually for Apple, the current Workflow app will remain available on the App Store and there's currently no indication it will be shut down anytime soon. The deal is said to have already been finalised and was completed today.
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