Apple acquires Workflow

Apple has acquired Workflow, a popular app for automating iOS actions.

I don’t use Workflow as much as I would like to, but, for some tasks, it saves me a lot of time and energy. I’d like to delve into it more deeply.

Gruber:

This certainly provides ammunition against the argument that Apple no longer cares about power users. For me this is Apple’s most intriguing and exciting acquisition in years.

Gabe Weatherhead is less convinced, highlighting how Apple described the acquisition by giving prominence to Workflow’s accessibility features rather than automation:

I think this is bad news for anyone that relies on Workflow to make iOS useful. If all your eggs are in that one basket then you better hurry up and build a new basket. I’d love to be wrong on this front, but I don’t think automation is a priority for Apple or for iOS. The URL support isn’t just languishing on iOS, Apple has actively killed access to some features in launcher apps. But, who knows. Maybe these three new hires will completely change the Apple culture where Sal couldn’t.[^sarcasm]

(He’s referring to Sal Soghoian, who was Product Manager of Automated Technologies at Apple until they removed the role late last year.)

Whatever happens in the longer term, some predictable changes have been made already:

Apple Music’s new personalised playlists

Reggie Ugwu’s Inside Apple Music’s Second Act for Buzzfeed:

The other big change is the addition of two new personalized playlists: My Favorites Mix and My New Music Mix. The playlists are generated by algorithms, a first for the service, which has largely relied on human curation for its playlists up to this point. Revealing how the mixes operate for the first time to BuzzFeed News, Apple claimed a potential advantage over similar algorithmically personalized playlists, including Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Pandora’s Thumbprint Radio: deep historical knowledge of individual users’ tastes and habits, based on years of data carried over from iTunes.

If you gave high ratings to a song or album in your old iTunes library, or just played it a lot more than others, you’ll find that behavior reflected in your My Favorites Mix. Meanwhile, the My New Music Mix algorithm serves recently released songs — as well as songs that Apple Music knows you haven’t played before — that the service’s music experts have flagged as similar to others in your taste profile. Apple Music executives suggested even more personalized playlists will follow in the series; but only after prototypes have been vetted, with all possible outcomes — intentional and otherwise — given careful consideration.

I’m still using Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Release Radar on a daily basis, but the two Apple Music playlists are a good start. Looking forward to seeing more.

Update: Spotify are rolling out Daily Mix, similar to Apple Music’s My Favourites Mix.