iOS has long been known as a tightly controlled operating system, especially compared to Android and its easy app interactions. With the release of iOS 8, Apple loosened their grip just a little bit — enough to allow apps to talk to each other in a few cases.
It’s a new era for iOS with these extensions — let’s take a look at how you can best use them!
Actions: How Do They Work?
Much like a browser add-on gives additional functionality to your browser from other apps (like being able to pin an image, share a link on Facebook, or fill in your login information with a password manager), iOS now lets you take advantage of the functionality of one app without leaving another. One notable way in which we’ll start to see this is in the availability of third-party keyboards for iOS.
The place where app interactions really shine, though, is in Safari, which has never quite measured up to other iOS browsers that allow extensions, like iCab Mobile. But now a whole new world has been opened up and when you tap the Share button in Safari, you’ll see some new options.
If you have apps installed that support working with Safari, you’ll be able to see them by tapping “More” on the far right side of the actions menu. From here, you can choose the actions you’d like to be displayed in the menu. To enable access, just make sure the slider is in the “on” position. That’s all you need to do — no downloading extra apps for extensions, no fiddling with permissions; just a quick slide.
So now that you know how to get them working, let’s take a look at a few cool apps that you can use with Safari in iOS 8.
By far the most exciting extension for me is LastPass. I use it constantly on my computer (so much so that I actually wrote a full guide to using it) and I was using it on my previous Android phone as well. I can’t remember passwords to save my life, so having to go to the LastPass app to look them up always seemed like a big hassle in iOS 7. No more, though. Open up the actions menu, tap LastPass, select the information you’d like to fill in, and it’s done.
If you’re a user of the 1Password app, you’re also in luck, as they’ve been working hard on integrating their app with not only Safari, but other apps as well. Both apps also supports Touch ID for user authentication too, which is pretty cool.
Another of my favorite apps, Evernote now lets you clip articles and sites from Safari directly into one of your notebooks, just like the Evernote browser extension does on your computer. No more emailing the page to yourself and clipping it from your desktop. Just tap the Evernote button, and the page will be synced with your account. Incidentally, the iOS 8 Evernote app also includes Touch ID authentication – something else that’s new for iOS 8.
Safari’s Reading List is a nice feature, but it’s best used when Safari is your go-to browser on all platforms. Now you can use other read-it-later apps to sync articles between different browsers, apps, and even operating systems. Both Pocket and Instapaper are popular options, and you can now save pages to them from your iPhone or iPad, then read them whenever and wherever you please, on any device.
Wunderlist / Things [No Longer Available]
You may not have thought of adding webpages to your task management app, but both of these apps let you add pages to tasks, which is great for when you want to create shopping lists or remember to do a number of things that are listed on a page. If you don’t use a read-it-later app, this can also be a good reminder to go back and look at something in more detail.
Social Media Apps
Sharing to Facebook or Twitter has been easy from Safari in the past, but now LinkedIn and Pinterest have app extensions as well, letting you share the cool things you find with the world. It’s a safe bet that more features from popular social media apps like HootSuite, Tweetbot, and Buffer will be added in the future, giving you more options for sharing.
The ability to translate a website has been mentioned by a lot of the write-ups of the big potential for Safari extensions, and Bing Translator is one of the ways to do it. Once you’ve downloaded the Bing app, you’ll see the Bing Translator option in the Safari extensions row. Just tap it to translate the page into whichever language you’d like. This is great if you read up-to-the-minute Apple news that might show up in different languages.
A Bright Future
While the number of apps that can be used with Safari in iOS 8 is currently a bit limited, it seems very likely that other app developers will be racing to release updates for their apps that will allow them to work well with Apple’s stock browser. The fact that Apple is allowing this sort of app interaction is a huge step forward for iOS, and we’re looking forward to finding great ways to make use of it!
Which Safari action have you found most useful?
Image Credits: Smartphone with Broken Display Via Shutterstock