Perhaps Apple is using the acquisition strategy as a method to shut down an app getting around iOS's "preferred workflow" and UX model. Sort of a strategy taken by Microsoft, Google, and Apple whereby they buy competitors, claim to leave the service running, but ultimately shut them down so it doesn't compete with their main product (see: Sunrise, Acompli, Sparrow, Timely, etc.)
Apple didn't do that, in fact they've left it in the store and made it free. They've given it a design award in the past (which seems to tacitly endorse that they like parts of it), and we know they've had things to help with automation in some degree on the Mac for years (AppleScript, Automator). This may be one of those cases where they just saw a really good product and decided to start from it instead of building from scratch.
Not unlike what they did with MusicMatch Jukebox and a number of other things throughout their history. (iTunes was amazing. I'm not going to argue about the last 10 years or so, but when they bought it it was really nice software for many years).
Some background and commentary on Sal Soghoian's website. Until recently he was Apple's Product Manager of Automation Technologies: http://macosxautomation.com/about.html
It's definitely not unique for Apple which recently has seen them do a purge of areas they no longer want to be in e.g. Displays, Wifi routers.
Courting power users used to be much more popular than it is today. It seems that today all large tech companies target IT professionals and consumers with a completely separate set of offerings. There's very little in between any more. On the consumer side they go for ultimate scale because nothing else moves the needle for them.
It wouldn't surprise me if Apple had decided to deprecate everything that isn't accessible to all consumers, which would have frustrated someone who has worked for decades to let power users automate tasks in ways that the average consumer never would.
As I said, all pure speculation for our entertainment :-)
Also, it's worth noting that Workflow is, in a lot of ways, inspired by Automator on the Mac. At this point it's better than Automator is, albeit with all the caveats forced on it by the aforementioned differences in system design, but it wouldn't require an awful lot of effort to bring Automator up to par.
Not many folks know he's also a fantastic jazz musician. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sal_Soghoian)
It was a mercy killing. AppleScript and Automator had become too complicated and obscure to be worthwhile anymore.
Workflow's advantages are that it A) covers the whole gamut of simple to insane with a single product, and B) has a sharing gallery so you can easily use someone else's magic without understanding it.
Maybe Apple killed the automation position because they were planning to replace it with Workflow, but do you expect them to backport the whole thing onto the Mac? In which case, are they going to actually maintain the user-submitted workflow gallery that makes it useful? Will it be a generally available API, or do they lock it down and use this as a stick to make people stop leaving the Mac App Store? I just don't have an easy time being optimistic about this, given where their priorities lie lately.
 Parse a Spotify response as a dictionary: https://workflow.is/workflows/1da14413405c4dcaa83904c2fe5cc3...
The others are scheduled for upcoming products. LuxVue for example is widely predicted to be the basis for the new iPhone 8 screen. PrimeSense, Perceptio, Faceshift are all part of Apple's upcoming AR push.
NeXT -> OS X
LaLa -> iTunes Match
Siri -> Siri
My guess is that Apple saw a useful product that should be a part of the core of iOS.
I have an old Fingerworks trackpad and it works amazingly well even today.
Our acquisition actually ended up with the spirit of our product living on in a way that I am proud of.
At Embark, we innovated by taking a regionally nuanced and tailored transit App and giving it scale. When Embark operated from 2008 to 2013, there were small bespoke apps and there were larger more generic experiences (like Google) and we filled a void in between.
Apple's approach was quite similar. Like Embark, Apple Maps Transit has a more regionally tailored experience than many bespoke transit Apps out there, but they're also able to bring it to scale. It's now at a scale we never got close to reaching at Embark.
If you're curious, Apple talks about their city-by-city approach in this WWDC video. https://developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2016/241/
I can't recall many of them off the top of my head anymore, because they're gone and lost to memory.
Edit: Furthermore, they gave it an Apple Design Award in 2015, so they're clearly alright with its existence.
> More cynically, though, if Apple wanted to shut it down, there are easier ways they aren't above.
It sort of depends on the definition of "shut it down"(see Beats, Swell, FoundationDB, etc.). At minimum, Workflow goes away and rises from the ashes (with a new name) as an automation feature for a future version of iOS. Or, maybe it's just an acqui-hire and they'll start over with a new codebase on something more integral to the OS.
 "It seems that in scaling back recruiting efforts, Apple is moving to a staffing model fueled by so-called 'acqui-hires,' or purchases of smaller companies for talent." http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/04/25/apple-reportedly-w...
On the other hand, this functionality would be a brilliant match for Siri, and they've been looking to move in exactly that sort of direction for some while now, as Alexa and Google Assistant have increasingly made Siri's rough edges and limitations show by comparison.
Also worthy of note is that Apple doesn't have a first-party tool in the iOS automation space. So I'm not sure what purpose you suggest it would serve to buy Workflow for the purpose of killing it.
It's mainly the idea that Apple doesn't want anybody else dictating how iOS should be used.
I think it's pretty likely. I also think it's likely to return as something more integrated, but of course, the gap between when they shut this down and when the new thing arrives will suck for current users.
This is according to Marco Arment a few minutes ago on the live recording of the Accidental Tech Podcast, who said he was asked to sign this document for his podcast app.
Switching to Apple Maps exclusively over Google Maps is almost certainly a condition of the acquisition as I can't imagine Workflow would willing cripple their app that way, lack of Google email reply be dammed, without getting paid handsomely to do so
Being a small dev team, and not a corporation with a giant legal department, they panic at the amount of permissions they need to acquire (Workflow deals with a lot of apps) and rush through it as quickly as possible. Coupled with the fact that they, unlike Apple, are a tiny company that doesn't actually make much money off the app, so don't want to end up entering long-standing commercial agreements when the deal may still fall through.
Apple then insists that anything that they haven't had a formal agreement to on a particular date is removed from the app if they want the acquisition to proceed.
Whether that means that they now contact Google again is another question entirely (personally, given that the point of Workflow is to link as many apps together as possible I would hope so)
Sounds like you're speculating about details based on a second hand retelling of a podcast host's individual experience. A host who presumably doesn't have an "appropriate person/lawyer."
My remarks of the possibility of standardizing their Translation API use aren't speculation; Google's terms/offers are pretty public: https://cloud.google.com/translate/faq
While Marco tried to put a nice spin on it, it should be obvious why Workflow dropped Google services
> Get Street View Image, Google Chrome, Pocket, LINE, Telegram,
Uber, and Workflow Gallery submissions are no longer supported
And the translation is now carried by Microsoft.
Apple has more incentive to open source Swift than they do to let anyone use content from a company they acquire (remember FoundationDB's fate?). I think Authentec went the same route but I am uncertain.
I recently had to fix some issues with my parents iPad and it was a hell of a eye opener into why it's a terrible idea to rely on these devices at all.
So my mother does painting as a hobby and recently has got into using Brushes (2010 Apple Award Winner), at some point her iPad decided to update itself to iOS 10 (note you cannot disable updates anymore, only postpone them) and was a bit surprised she could no longer open any of the paintings she'd made in the app over the last 3 years. I tried to update the app, it's the latest version
I tried to open them > crash, tried to email them to myself > crash, set up a dropbox account to sync them off the device > crash.
I look online and find this app despite having won awards and being used by famous artist David Hockney is no longer updated, but good news it's open source so someone else has taken up the job of updating it to run on """modern""" iOS, so I install Brushes Redux, it works but none of her paintings are in it. So 3 years of work is on the device, we have a version of the app that should be able to open that work, but we can't because all files are siloed within app.
Long story short after 5 hours of trying to sort this out I finally used a very dodgy looking app to pull the hidden files out of the old brushes app and into the new one. Let's just hope Hockney manages to figure this out too or millions of pounds worth of artwork might be lost for good.
I use software in my day to day work way older than this brushes app but this scenario will never be a problem in my work because my OS isn't locked down, siloed and can disable updates.
Is Apple asking for concessions from companies in order to put hooks into them in Workflow, or are these companies asking for concessions from Apple in return for hooking into their services?
But here we go. Already reduced a ton on day 1
p/s: I'm just doing this for my own bookmark :D first time reading about this app
EDIT: more links
https://www.reddit.com/r/workflow/ | http://www.imore.com/how-use-workflow-ios-when-you-dont-know... |
Hopefully this changes all of that!!
This is really really great news!
And yes, yes, we want a MBP with 32 GB ram and a new Mac Pro and all other kinds of stuff, but I still feel there is somewhat of an overlap between the Workflow crowd and the "ignoring the pros"-crowd.
Could this be a sign that the team was not up to scratch and this acquisition is to replace them?
Finally a way to mute my phone when I'm on a certain wifi network, and other things IFTTT only wishes it could do.
Interesting that Apple is looking at meta-tools ordinary users can program to organise their workflow over more applications. 
You've come a long way dude!
-- mindcrash (your former partner in crime at MacHeist)
I'm curious, how do they access functionality in other apps? Does iOS provide an API for that? Do the apps somehow cooperate? Or did they hack into the iOS kernel?
Also, usage of these has been limited in recent iOS releases.
So absolutely Apple could introduce a new mechanism, but their buying and encouraging adoption of Workflow is a strong indication to me that they have no intention of deprecating the URL mechanism any time soon.
There's probably a dozen automation tools out there. There are dozen chat and dating apps as well.
Yet all the effort and attention is focused on becoming a lottery ticket.