Task automation apps like IFTTT (If This Then That) are all the rage among power users who want to get more done with less effort. Simple in theory but often difficult in execution, they require users to create “recipes” that can feel more complex to manage than their promises of user-friendliness suggest. A new iOS app called Workflow, however, takes much of the hard work out of IFTTT-style actions, creating shortcuts that you can slap straight onto your iPhone’s home screen for fast execution.
Workflow does this by simplifying the creation of recipes to the drag-and-drop level. It comes pre-programmed with a host of actions that you can combine to create practically any combination of automated tasks (or “workflows”). You can have it program your iPhone to automatically post all snapshots you take with your front-facing camera to your Twitter account, for example. Or you can have it tap and drag your upcoming calendar events and stack them in Google Maps to not only remind you where you’re supposed to be tomorrow, but to also provide you with directions on how to get there. Or you can have it nab websites from your browser and turn them into PDFs for offline reading. There are many possibilities here, and unlike the standard IFTTT service, Workflow lets you chain and customize a series of disparate functions together.
The full functionality of Workflow comes by way of its integration with other apps, like Facebook, the aforementioned Google Maps, and many more. If you’re intimidated by the prospect of creating your own workflows, you can access a number of pre-existing combos that are capable of performing some impressive tasks. These are accessed in the Workflow gallery, where you’ll find all manner of recipes — one example can determine how long it’ll take you to commute from your current location to home, then tap into your email app and automatically fire off a message to your significant other so they’ll know when to expect you. The gallery itself contains more than 100 already created actions that incorporate stock iOS programs like Contacts, Calendar, Camera, Maps, Music, and AirDrop, productivity heavyweights like Evernote and Dropbox, and a variety of social media apps like Twitter and Facebook.
Once you get your feet wet and start creating your own tailored workflows, you can save them as apps that can be easily accessed from your home screen and launched at any given time. The beauty of Workflow is that, outside of the relative dearth of compatible apps, you’re really only limited in function by what your brain (or productivity needs) can come up with — an app like this saves time, yes, but it can also greatly enhance the functionality of what your iPhone can already do. The app’s greatest strength, though, lies in its simple, unintimidating UX that places shortcuts for all of your most frequently performed tasks straight onto your home screen for fast and easy access. You just create a workflow, drag your desired chain of apps into it, and let it roll from there.
Workflow requires iOS 8.0, and is currently available for download at a reasonable $2.99. It’ll cost $5 normally, but developer DeskConnect is promising to flesh out the app’s capabilities further in the future. Either way, it’s already one of the best apps around for those looking to make their iPhone a more efficient multitasker.