Apple's Acquisition Of Workflow Could Bring Automation To iOS
Macworld|Macworld May 2017

Here’s hoping Apple doesn’t plan to shut down the most powerful automation tool for the iPhone and iPad.

Dan Moren

After recent news that Apple had acquired iOS power user app Workflow (go. macworld.com/aplwrkflw), you’d be excused for being a bit confused about the future of automation on Apple’s platform. After all, it was just last November that Sal Soghoian, Apple’s product manager of automation technologies, left the company when his position was eliminated (go. macworld.com/soghoian).

And yet, Apple snapped up Workflow (go.macworld.com/wrkflw), an app that many had compared to Apple’s own Automator (go.macworld.com/autowf), which was introduced way back in 2005’s Mac OS X Tiger. So what gives? Is there still some life in automation and scripting features on Apple’s platforms, or is this merely a case of Apple acquiring useful talent?

FOLLOW THE SCRIPT

Scripting’s been part of the Mac since the earliest days. Apple Script, which grew out of HyperCard’s Hyper Talk scripting language,was built into System 7 back in 1993. It was a way to automate complex tasks across multiple applications, and it had a lot of power thanks not only to its deep integration into the OS, but also to third-party developers who made their apps addressable by the scripting language.

But for all its power, Apple Script has always been a bit esoteric. While it was intended to be accessible and used a sort of natural English syntax, it was often still too complex for the average user. On the other end, those used to more traditional programming languages found its idisyncrasies equally baffling.

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