Today, Techcrunch published Apple has acquired Workflow, a powerful automation tool for iPad and iPhone, inspiring these thoughts about the state of voice controlled automation assistants.
Anyone whose spent time with Siri, Alexa, Ok Google, and Cortana knows the tech is long on promise and short on actual “holy [expletive deleted] how did I ever do without this”. One problem is that the voice command processing AI is, well, still evolving (and the object of fun games). The other is more mundane: an inability to dig into apps and the OS, and reach useful functions that a user would string together into complex actions. Apple is working on a Siri API to help developers address this problem. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and everyone else building an assistant (I’m looking at you Samsung with your Bixby tech) are also working in this space. But there’s also a need for end users to extend and customize what their voice assistants can do with some simple-yet-powerful automation building tools.
And that, my friends, is what Apple appears to have done with the acquisition of Workflow automation technology. As Techcrunch noted, the Workflow team built a tool with accessibility in mind: not just a tool for non-devs, but also for folks with disabilities, too. That’s a nice leg up for the Siri tech.
Right now, the entire mobile industry – scratch that, the entire tech industry – is hot on the trail of the big what’s next with all the new-and-fresh glow off of mobile phones and tablets now. Look at the pattern of Apple news lately and you see a lot of talk about voice control and AI and augmented reality; essentially, a major reinvention of the way we work face down on small screens with our current mobile tech. The Workflow acquisition is clearly a building block in that strategy.