Apple Inc. has acquired WorkFlow, a utility app that Apple called the “most innovative” app of 2015, for an undisclosed sum.
The app, which had cost $2.99, was made free in the App Store Wednesday. Released in 2014 by Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer and Nick Frey, WorkFlow soon gained plaudits as the “Swiss Army Knife of apps.”
Workflow basically cuts down on clicking time, allowing users to stitch several app activities together, leading at least one mobile app site to describe it as having “infinite potential.” This potential was enough to raise about $2 million in an unannounced seed round, according to TechCrunch.
“We are thrilled to be joining Apple,” Weinstein said in a statement. “We’ve worked closely with Apple from the very beginning, from kickstarting our company as students attending WWDC to developing and launching Workflow and seeing its amazing success on the App Store. We can’t wait to take our work to the next level at Apple and contribute to products that touch people across the world.”
Apple watchers said the acquisition, despite its small size, could have a big impact. “This certainly provides ammunition against the argument that Apple no longer cares about power users,” wrote John Gruber, who pens the closely watched blog Daring Fireball. “For me this is Apple’s most intriguing and exciting acquisition in years.”
More specifically, Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research said the purchase also reversed the notion that Apple had abandoned automation as a feature when it parted ways late last year with Sal Saghoian, who ran the Automator app for macOS. “Workflow is much more user friendly approach to automation than Automator, and what I’d hope we’ll see here is that same approach applied to built-in automation across Apple’s product lines including the Mac,” Dawson wrote. “That would make automation a more mainstream proposition, which is an intriguing prospect.”
After the app’s release and the many plaudits it received, Weinstein said that his small team had one thing in mind when creating the WorkFlow and that was to make life simple. To do that, various apps on a device had to work together, in Weinstein’s words simply to “automate things you did on your phone.”
One example is adding meals and nutritional value to a health app, logging in to that app and adding information about that meal in various tabs. Once set up, Workflow will reduce the amount of clicking around to addressing a couple of prompts and do most of the work for you.