The App Store took a novel interface — mobile — and simplified the portal connecting phones to the internet. Apple's newest acquisition, Workflow, has the potential to do the same thing on a higher level for the smart home, particularly for voice, by simplifying the way users connect our devices to each other, Feland said.
In the article of Anita Balakrishnan for CNBC, She explained that Workflow is an app that allows users to automate certain actions. TechCrunch first reported Apple's takeover of the app, which Apple said had "outstanding use of iOS accessibility features, in particular an outstanding implementation for VoiceOver with clearly labeled items, thoughtful hints, and drag/drop announcements, making the app usable and quickly accessible to those who are blind or low-vision."
Apple is tight-lipped, so it's hard to know exactly what the engineers in Cupertino will come up with — Workflow could easily fade into the background of other products. But Forrester analyst Frank Gillett said it's unusual for Apple to acknowledge an acquisition and keep an app on the market, suggesting Workflow might stick around.
Workflow is somewhat of a visual programming tool that's easier than writing an app but probably too wonkish for the average consumer. Gillett said Apple might get under the hood, making it easier for every iPhone user to make DIY programs.
But another theory is that a new generation of developers, or "prosumers," could create "workflows" that act as micro or mini apps, Feland said. The Workflow app would then become a menu or "store" where consumers could go and select sets of commands that were premade by others.
For instance, a Workflow "developer" could create a "Gone Fishing" workflow that automatically locks the doors, turns down the thermostat, and shuts off the lights for the weekend. Users open the Workflow app, search for the one they need, and when it's time to head out, all they have to do is tell Siri, "I'm going fishing."
That's important, Feland said, as Siri has "languished" behind competitors like Amazon's Alexa and Google Home, who have a more open platform ripe for integration across devices and apps.
Apple has already opened the gate to these kinds of integrations. Siri opened to developers last year, and users can now do things like buy an iTunes movie on one device and continue watching it on another.
Workflow is also important as Apple tries to extend computing experiences beyond the phone, which is increasingly become the "digital hub" that Steve Jobs once envisioned when he dropped "Computer" from the company's name.
"Some of this is Apple shifting velocity," Feland said. "Apple is trying to almost make iOS the core operating system that people are using. They are shifting to much more of a model that's not performance, but it's about connectivity."
So just like creating playlists was a heavy burden for the small screen of the iPod in the early 2000s, complex tasks can be overwhelming on a pair of AirPods, a Watch or the augmented reality glasses Apple is rumored to be making.
The solution for the iPod was iTunes on a personal computer - a spread-out interface with plenty of room to create playlists.
In a similar way, Workflow could automate processes that are repetitive or tedious to do on a small screen.