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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:20 PM   #1
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An In-Depth Look at App Extensions in iOS 8 and Yosemite




Extensibility, one of the iOS 8/Yosemite features for developers announced by Apple during the Worldwide Developers Conference, promises to bring a range of new functionality to the app ecosystem.

The feature is designed to allow third-party apps to share services with other apps, create widgets for the Notification Center, and develop custom system-wide keyboards, letting apps and services work together and interface with iOS and OS X as they never have before.

Federico Viticci of MacStories has taken an in-depth look at Apple's Extensibility initiative, explaining the various types of app extensions available to developers and how those extensions will work on both iOS and OS X. There are seven general ways that extensions can be used, as detailed by Viticci:

- Today (iOS and OS X): widgets for the Today view of Notification Center
- Share (iOS and OS X): post content to web services or share content with others
- Actions (iOS and OS X): app extensions to view or manipulate inside another app
- Photo Editing (iOS): edit a photo or video in Apple's Photos app with extensions from a third-party apps
- Finder Sync (OS X): remote file storage in the Finder with support for Finder content annotation
- Storage Provider (iOS): an interface between files inside an app and other apps on a user's device
- Custom Keyboard (iOS): system-wide alternative keyboards

One of the most intriguing aspects of Extensibility, app widgets in the Today view of the Notification Center, was demoed on stage during the keynote. A SportsCenter widget displayed sports scores and an eBay widget offered a way to keep an eye on auctions. Philips later demoed how a Hue widget might allow users to control lights directly from the Notification Center. Apple is said to be encouraging developers to keep widgets simple, with iOS 8 preventing system-intensive widgets with complex features.

Action-based app extensions will also bring major changes to iOS, allowing apps to extend their functionality to other apps. On stage, this was shown off in Safari on Yosemite, using the Bing app to translate Japanese text, and through a Pinterest tool that allowed it to capture an image from Safari to save to the Pinterest app.

Custom keyboards, one of the major surprises at WWDC, also fall under the extensions category. Apple has, in the past, been reluctant to allow third-party keyboards due to security concerns but there are a number of precautions in place. Custom keyboards are unable to type in secure text input fields, like those used for passwords, and by default, the keyboards will not have access to keystrokes.

According to Viticci, the developers he's spoken have reacted with excitement about all of the possibilities offered by Extensibility, and believe that "a new class of apps will be possible thanks to extensions."
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Today, it's difficult to quantify the impact that extensions will have on the iOS app ecosystem, but I think it's safe to say that, considering developers' reactions to Apple's announcement, we're going to see plenty of cool new stuff this Fall.
iOS users interested in more information on Apple's Extensibility initiative, how app extensions work, and how they might be used by developers should check out Viticci's full extensions piece on MacStories.

Article Link: An In-Depth Look at App Extensions in iOS 8 and Yosemite
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:25 PM   #2
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Does this mean Dashboard Widgets are gone in Yosemite?
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by oneMadRssn View Post
Does this mean Dashboard Widgets are gone in Yosemite?
No, at the Platform State of The Union they specifically mentioned that it's still there but they are "heavily deprecating" it's prominence. I imagine that means 10.10 gives users time to adopt the new paradigm, and 10.11 will likely remove the dashboard.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:27 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by oneMadRssn View Post
Does this mean Dashboard Widgets are gone in Yosemite?
Rather, is Dashboard gone in Yosemite?
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:28 PM   #5
joejoejoe
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How is this an in depth look?

Why not provide screenshots or videos of all the functions mentioned above? This is basically reappropriating language from Apple's website. Nothing in depth here.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:31 PM   #6
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I am very excited about this. It allows for a level of customization for Apple that had not been possible without jailbreaking. I like it. I want it. Bring it on!

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Originally Posted by joejoejoe View Post
How is this an in depth look?

Why not provide screenshots or videos of all the functions mentioned above? This is basically reappropriating language from Apple's website. Nothing in depth here.
Click the link to the original article. you will see it there.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:31 PM   #7
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We are going to love this hard work at Apple this fall.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:32 PM   #8
dannyyankou
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Originally Posted by oneMadRssn View Post
Does this mean Dashboard Widgets are gone in Yosemite?
Nope
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by joejoejoe View Post
How is this an in depth look?

Why not provide screenshots or videos of all the functions mentioned above? This is basically reappropriating language from Apple's website. Nothing in depth here.
Did you go and read the actual article on MacStories? I thought the same until I went to the original.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:35 PM   #10
dwd3885
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So you'll be using a custom keyboard and then when a password or credit card box comes up, the regular apple keyboard will appear? This is a pretty bad user experience in my mind.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:36 PM   #11
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Alright, all together now: Swype, Swype, SWYPE, SWPYE, SWYPE, SWYPE!
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:38 PM   #12
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So you'll be using a custom keyboard and then when a password or credit card box comes up, the regular apple keyboard will appear? This is a pretty bad user experience in my mind.
That's guaranteed security for your card information. As we've seen on Android, there are many keyboards that harvest far more information (like contacts) for the privilege of using a different keyboard for free.

I'm sure Apple will open it up in the future, but only once they have a rock solid way of ensuring there are no flaws in implementation.

I suspect that if iOS 8 is jailbroken, a flaw in extensions will be the main exploit.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:40 PM   #13
blueprague
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Parental Time-Limits?

Will this mean that there can be Parental Time-Limits?
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:42 PM   #14
dwd3885
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Originally Posted by NT1440 View Post
That's guaranteed security for your card information. As we've seen on Android, there are many keyboards that harvest far more information (like contacts) for the privilege of using a different keyboard for free.

I'm sure Apple will open it up in the future, but only once they have a rock solid way of ensuring there are no flaws in implementation.

I suspect that if iOS 8 is jailbroken, a flaw in extensions will be the main exploit.
i mean, yea, that's what they say. but it's a pretty bad UI experience to me.

So will you only be able to enter contact info through the Apple keyboard too then?!
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:43 PM   #15
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Extensions will most likely make it possible to now be able to actually download files from Safari
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:45 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by dwd3885 View Post
i mean, yea, that's what they say. but it's a pretty bad UI experience to me.

So will you only be able to enter contact info through the Apple keyboard too then?!
Poor dwd3885, won't be able to write keylogger malware keyboard for iOS. Boo hoo
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:50 PM   #17
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I think I'm going to enjoy my iPhone 6 with a 5.5 screen and iOS8, along with my iPad mini 2.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:53 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Fresh Pie View Post
Alright, all together now: Swype, Swype, SWYPE, SWPYE, SWYPE, SWYPE!
Yosemite already supports flowhard.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:55 PM   #19
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Needs more Safari

Nice, but needs more Safari extensions.

I'm not 100% behind adblock (after all, ad revenues are the only thing keeping many of my favorite web sites afloat) but things like ghostery? Click-to-flash? It is increasingly painful and disruptive to me not to have access to them on my iPhone, and the dedicated browsers that include them (Ghostery's browser, the Adblock browser, etc) are uniformly awful: so buggy and poorly designed that they are simply not usable for serious browsing.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 02:57 PM   #20
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i mean, yea, that's what they say. but it's a pretty bad UI experience to me.

So will you only be able to enter contact info through the Apple keyboard too then?!
No, autofill will take care of that.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 03:03 PM   #21
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Yosemite already supports flowhard.
I love that so ****ing much. I genuinely really, really like that.

For your effort, have this odd fanart/wallpaper I designed.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 03:10 PM   #22
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Poor dwd3885, won't be able to write keylogger malware keyboard for iOS. Boo hoo
darn! I've been doing that on android for years and now I won't be able to!
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 03:10 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Fresh Pie View Post
Alright, all together now: Swype, Swype, SWYPE, SWPYE, SWYPE, SWYPE!
Hells yeah. The iPhone is finally a becoming a viable alternative again.
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 03:20 PM   #24
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good read
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Old Jun 6, 2014, 03:21 PM   #25
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Cool, but tread carefully

The problem with extending another app is that you are now forced to have to update and modify that extension with virtually every update of the target app. Apple has a long history of late breaking, and often unnecessary, changes to their API's which already force you to virtually re-write apps with every OS patch or update, now imagine every time specific apps are patched having to rewrite your extension to work properly.

The idea is nice in theory, but Apple does not have a history of respect for developers with regards to stable API's. I can imagine that the interfaces to support App Extensions will change frequently for the next few versions until Apple settles the API down, so I won't rush to try and support this ecosystem until a few versions have gone by, unless you love rewriting code over and over again on someone else's release schedule.

The only other problem? Look at the disaster that browser extensions have created, my Dad has like 20 tool-bars and tons of extra buttons in his Firefox browser simply because of the rampant "extensibility" allowed. Hopefully Apple will reign in the proliferation of crapware that will be allowed to extend their apps.
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