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Tutorial Description

Automation is key to productivity but iOS offers less options for automation than the Mac. This is mainly due to sandboxing, which limits what apps can do, and how they can interoperate. However, there are still some powerful automation tools available if you take time to understand how the basic building blocks of automation on iOS work.

In Part 1 of this iOS automation series, we introduce you to iOS automation via app extensions, and explain how URL schemes work. We also show you how to use URL schemes in some common iOS automation applications, to give you a solid knowledge base for automating your own iOS workflows.

In this tutorial we demonstrate:

  • Examples of app extensions like the 1Password Touch ID extension and the TextExpander third-party keyboard

  • How URL schemes are constructed on iOS

  • How x-callback-url allows you to string actions together

  • Adding actions to Drafts via the actions directory and carpeting them from scratch

  • Creating Launch Center Pro actions using the Action Composer

  • Building and launching workflows via the Workflow app, Notification Center widget, and app extension

Since the tutorial was recorded, Apple have now acquired the Workflow app and made it available for free on the App Store. Perhaps we'll see more Workflow like features built into future releases of iOS!

The full tutorial covers:

  • Introduction
  • Extensions
  • URL Schemes
  • Drafts Actions
  • Parsing URLs in Fantastical
  • Launch Center Pro
  • Workflow

App Store Links:

Drafts - iOS App Store

Launch Center Pro - iOS App Store

Workflow - iOS App Store

Video Tutorial Comments

(1 comments posted)

Ray Holan

While I think this was an honest effort to explain Workflow app, I am still confused by the terminology and concepts. In the end, I can't get my brain around the practical use of this app. The examples seemed far afield from a typical business user's needs. Maybe it's just the way my brain works;)

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