This week Apple introduced app extensions into both iOS and OSX.
When a 3rd party app wants a particular kind of service (such as
photo editing), iOS presents the user with a list of other apps on
their device that have the desired extension. Once the user picks
one, the extension appears right within the 3rd party app so the
user can use it without switching out of their current flow. This
allows apps to interoperate in a controlled manner without
sacrificing security, privacy, and convenience for the user.
One of the interesting things about this is how the underlying
mechanisms actually work — the extensions themselves are entirely
self-contained apps in their own right. They are walled off from
all other apps — including their own parent app for the most part
— and are given a limited view of the outside world that mostly
only includes the data necessary to do the type of task the
extension was designed to fulfill. This means that the extension
apps are, essentially, entirely self-contained. As far as users
are concerned, their flow is relatively uninterrupted and they’re
able to do what they want when they want without iOS standing too
much in the way. It should just work.
Heber goes on to speculate, intriguingly, on what these changes might mean for Apple TV and gaming. In short, don’t think new third App Store in addition to iOS and Mac, think instead Apple TV as another device for the iOS App Store and existing iOS games.