iOS 8 Extensions Bring Many New Business Ideas

It’s now 2 weeks since WWDC 2014 and the hype is starting to die down. As an appreciator of all things Apple I was thoroughly impressed and am excited for all the great promises that Apple announced. But that’s not what I wanted to write about, so if you missed it you can check out all the new features for iOS8 and OSX at As a developer I think we got a bit more spoilt this year than in previous years. We’ve got so many great new tools to play with.

What’s new?

Starting off we got a whole new programming language! Cocoa can now be beautiful to look at and beautiful to write using Swift. It uses modern programming features like functional paradigms, it has flexibility usually reserved for scripting languages and has been compared to the JVM wonder child, Scala.

We’ve got access to a handful of new API’s. We can now use Touch ID within our apps to keep private content secure without having to use yesterdays gatekeeper, a password. Apps now have access to camera roll editing directly, no importing of images is necessary. Apps have full control over the in built camera allowing for things like exposure, focus and white balance to be easily manipulated.
For the electrical engineers out there we’ve got Homekit, a simple interface or bridge between iOS and smart home tech like Nest, and Philips hue. It’s a lot more than that though, every piece of home tech will be accessible using natural language through Siri, we’re talking Tony Stark homes here.

Have you ever wondered why not many apps use iCloud? To be honest it’s a mess and Apple know it, so they’ve kindly released cloudkit, a higher level API that Apple promises will eliminate the need to write server-side application logic. My fingers are crossed…

There’s also one hidden feature that I’ve been waiting since Safari introduced its Nitro Javascript engine. Developers now have access to WKWebView, the same webkit implementation that safari uses. No more performance handicap on third party browsers and webview based apps will now be more responsive.

With each new iOS release there are always opportunities to create new features and make apps better for the consumers, but rarely are we able to make a whole new type of app. Well not really a whole new app, but a widget. Apple has released app extensions. This is the one thing that stood out to me most from a business perspective.

iOS 8 Widgets

*Image from WWDC 2014.

These extensions come with a lot of restrictions, but there is a lot of opportunity to create apps that include extensions that people will want to buy.

Different types of extensions that can be created

  • Today: Like the above image, a simple widget can be added to the new notifications center.
  • Share: A share button can be added to the built-in share action. An example would be a share on Pinterest Button.
  • Action: An action which can be found in the share action. It allows editing or modifying content in an app. An example of this might be a button that changes the colour scheme from blue to red.
  • Photo Editing: Allows new ways to edit photos within the default photos app. An example is a new photo filter like instagram.
  • Finder Sync: Allows content from apps to be found in the finder search list. An example would be showing your spotify favourite songs in finder when you search for them.
  • Storage Provider: Adds a new source of files that can be opened in apps. E.g. access your dropbox files in Facebook to share them.
  • Custom Keyboard: Completely new keyboards can be created and used system wide. E.g. a keyboard with a new font or a Perkins Brailler Keyboard.

Because the possibility of these extensions are entirely new, all new apps are on an even playing field on release day. App developers will be working hard to use these new features and produce great new ideas. Android has had years to produce great widgets and extensions. Now is the time for businesses to bring some of the best ideas across to the Apple world.

So put your thinking caps on…



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