An In-Depth Look at App Extensions in iOS 8 and Yosemite

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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."
    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
  2. macrumors 68000


    Sep 8, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Does this mean Dashboard Widgets are gone in Yosemite?
  3. macrumors G3


    May 18, 2008
    Hartford, CT
    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.
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2009
    Rather, is Dashboard gone in Yosemite?
  5. macrumors 65816

    Sep 13, 2006
    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.
  6. macrumors 68020

    Cuban Missles

    Dec 6, 2012
    My heart is in Camagüey, the rest in the USA
    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! :D


    Click the link to the original article. you will see it there.
  7. macrumors 603


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
    We are going to love this hard work at Apple this fall.
  8. macrumors 601


    Mar 2, 2012

    Attached Files:

  9. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 3, 2010
    Upstate NY
    Did you go and read the actual article on MacStories? I thought the same until I went to the original.
  10. macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    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.
  11. macrumors 68020


    Dec 9, 2008
    Alright, all together now: Swype, Swype, SWYPE, SWPYE, SWYPE, SWYPE!
  12. macrumors G3


    May 18, 2008
    Hartford, CT
    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.
  13. macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2007
    Parental Time-Limits?

    Will this mean that there can be Parental Time-Limits?
  14. macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    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?!
  15. macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2009
    Extensions will most likely make it possible to now be able to actually download files from Safari
  16. macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2013
    Poor dwd3885, won't be able to write keylogger malware keyboard for iOS. Boo hoo :(
  17. macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2008
    I think I'm going to enjoy my iPhone 6 with a 5.5 screen and iOS8, along with my iPad mini 2.
  18. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2011
    Yosemite already supports flowhard. :cool:
  19. macrumors regular

    Sep 9, 2007
    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.
  20. macrumors G3


    May 18, 2008
    Hartford, CT
    No, autofill will take care of that.
  21. macrumors 68020


    Dec 9, 2008
    I love that so ****ing much. I genuinely really, really like that.

    For your effort, have this odd fanart/wallpaper I designed.
  22. macrumors 68020

    Dec 10, 2004
    darn! I've been doing that on android for years and now I won't be able to!
  23. macrumors 68000


    Jun 28, 2012
    Hells yeah. The iPhone is finally a becoming a viable alternative again.
  24. macrumors newbie

    Jun 6, 2014
  25. macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2011
    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.

Share This Page