Apple’s Acquisition of Workflow Shows Stance on IoT

Apple has acquired a popular app, and has reimbursed app buyers, but there’s a catch.

Workflow is an app in the Apple App Store. By all accounts it is a very useful app. The iTunes description reads, “Workflow is your personal automation tool, enabling you to drag and drop any combination of actions to create powerful workflows for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.” It sounds like a handy app for iOS users, and it was a paid app.

It was announced that Apple would be acquiring the app, and the talent behind the app, last month, and would in turn make the app available for free. Beyond this, Apple is now issuing refunds to purchasers of the app. This is a good thing, and something I would not have expected from Apple. So good for those consumers that they still get their app, and don’t have to feel cheated that others are now getting the same app for free.

However, it’s no longer the same app. Apple has decided to remove functionality from the app itself. From the Workflow webpage, the latest update shows “Get Street View Image, Google Chrome, Pocket, LINE, Telegram, Uber, and Workflow Gallery submissions are no longer supported”. It seems that since the acquisition, Apple has decided to remove interoperability with outside services. Now this is something I would have expected from Apple.

This is a new age, this is the age of the IoT. Going forward, the world of tech will be all about interoperability. We want our gadgets to speak together and work together. We see this throughout the tech sector. We watch as Amazon’s Alexa controls our smart home gadgets, and we see Google racing to catch up with their own Google home. File manager apps are now judged by the amount of different services with which they connect. BlackBerry has created a whole new platform with it’s Enterprise of Things to enable others to work in this interconnected space, and do so securely.

However, I believe there is going to be something that will be dragging down progress in this area. And that will be Apple. Apple’s entire business strategy has depended upon their own “closed garden”. Ensuring that any product that seeks to work with Apple gadgets ends up paying some sort of licensing fee to Apple in order to do so. Indeed, if you see a product that is listed as working with Apple, you can be assured that a price has been paid. Workflow is a perfect example of what we can expect. An app which had the ability to work with other services, was acquired by Apple, and those services were ended. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see some of these services added at a later date, if those services choose to purchase their way back in, or if Apple adds them as in-app purchases for the consumer.

I wonder how this will end? Will Apple be left behind as customers realize that outside the garden, people are living in an interconnected world? Or will Apple slow down the arrival of this interconnected world through their business practices and popularity. I fear what the answer may be.



BlackBerry Elite
Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs and UTB Geek.
When I’m not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you’ll find me using my BlackBerry.

  • BlueTroll

    Typical Apple. Almost a bait and switch situation.

  • theCHIVERChance

    That is a very scary thought indeed! Hopefully more of the former will happen.

  • anthogag

    Ah, the only one that was/is truly trying to be integrated and connected to everything and everyone is BlackBerry.

    Google has “Google Services” and their app store. If you want to use Android there are conditions and limits.

    Maybe most people, and Brad, think Google/Android is the poster child for connectivity but Google changed their name to “Alphabet” for a reason. They’re buying-up whatever they can and what you’re seeing is the connectedness of businesses they own. The “illusion of choice” is the well known phrase. And it helps when Android has around 80% market share.

    Apple is a brand. Look at it from their business perspective. Can they be just another device like any other Android? They look for ways to differentiate their product and entrench their users/sheep.

    Samsung, a.k.a Apple’s 5 o’clock shadow, copies Apple and tries to make their electronic devices “built for Samsung”.

    • I buy my music through an app on my Priv from Amazon (same way I did on BB10). The companion app for my action camera was downloaded and runs on my Priv straight from the manufacturers website, not Google Play.

      “Found on the Google Play Store” is a thing. You’re right. But you also see a whole heck of a lot of Android listed as compatible with no mention of Google.

      You won’t find any of this possible with iOS

      • anthogag

        Right, you’re limited to the Android ecosystem. Those businesses have to make an Android app.

        • There is a difference between android and Google. You can have an android app that is not in Google Play.

          Also, you can fully utilize Bluetooth and NFC. Something all phone makers allow… except for Apple