Extensions in iOS 8 are great: Here’s what they do and where to find them

6 Comments

Credit: Kevin C. Tofel

Some iPhone owners are still in a virtual line to get iOS 8: My wife’s iPhone, for example, is showing another 16 hours before her download is complete. That’s a shame because once updated to the new software, older iPhones will get a number of features that, until now, were big advantages to using Android.

Specifically, [company]Apple[/company] added support for extensions in iOS 8 and these add much more customization and easier ways of getting things done. In the App Store, there’s even a special section to find these: Tap the Explore button on the iOS Apple Store and one of the top revolving banner options reads “Extend Your Apps.”

extend your apps ios 8

Apple has split this store section into five different parts in order to highlight what extensions bring to the iPhone. Here you’ll find new keyboards — we previously highlighted three to try — as well as Notification Center widgets, which are easy to configure and use. You’ll also see Photo Editing and Filters, which can integrate directly into the native iOS Photos app so you can use third-party editing tools in a single app.

Here I’m able to use filters from Pix2 directly in the Photos app without ever leaving Photos:

Pix2 in iOS 8 camera

The More Ways to Share section is a fast way to see which iOS apps can now be added to content sharing menus. As a long-time user of Pocket, for example, I used to need a special JavaScript bookmarklet to save web content from Safari to my Pocket account. Frankly, it was a bit of a hack. An effective hack, but still a hack.

The app now officially supports the new extensions feature in iOS 8, which adds a Pocket button in my sharing options:

share pocket ios 8

Lastly, there’s a Custom Actions session in the App Store. This is a bit of catch-all but still has some great applications that can now interact with other apps on your iPhone. Take 1Password, for example.

This password manager has never worked directly with Safari or other apps in the past; instead, it came with its own browser so you could automatically have it insert passwords on websites for you. Thanks to iOS 8, it does work with Safari now, not to mention the Touch ID on a newer iPhone: Instead of typing in your master password to use the app, you can unlock all of your passwords with a fingerprint.

Safari isn’t the only app 1Password can be extended to however. There are already more than 100 iOS apps that can link with the password manager, including Twitterific and HipChat.

1password twitterific ios 8

Android users are right to claim that Google’s mobile software could do all of this a long time ago. I still think it’s pointless to debate that because it doesn’t matter: Both platforms have their pros and cons. And even though I prefer some aspects of [company]Google[/company] Android, it’s nice to see iOS improve with mobile apps that can work together.

Extensions might not be in the spotlight when it comes to talking about iOS 8 but I think these are the unsung hero of the new software.

 

6 Comments

David

Extensions?… IOS 8 in Canada does not have a category called extensions under the Explore button. The only three banners available are Made in Canada, Great Free Apps, Great Free Games….

Kevin C. Tofel

That’s a disappointment, David. Apple can certainly leave the promotion of extension-enabled apps to developers but I think it would be better served with a full-on promo of them front and center in the App Store.

Charles Gaines

Yeah, the “_____ could do this a long time ago” argument is nonsense. I mean, I suppose it’s great if you frequently time travel, but what ultimately matters is what the platforms can do now, not last year or the year before last.

Presiaq

You keep saying this Kevin but it really makes no sense…

Maybe it doesn’t matter “now” but are you saying it also didn’t matter all those years that Apple users don’t get to enjoy these new features? What if Apple hadn’t implemented the features for another 5 years, would it not matter then either? How could it ever matter “now” if it never mattered “then”? It cant just matter now because Apple is doing it, it has always “mattered” (science & reason prove that).

Do the years you’ve spent enjoying your wife & kids matter? What if you had a head trauma & lost your longterm memory, would it not matter anymore since those memories are the past & not the “now”? If only the now matters then technically nothing has ever mattered.

Of course time of enjoyment matters, because time is all we have, it is the most valuable resource of all existence. You’re just letting the bickering between the 2 sides cloud your logical judgement.

Kevin C. Tofel

For people buying phones now, it doesn’t matter to the purchase decision when a different platform had certain features. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.

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