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Introduction to Apple’s App Extensions

New IOS version (iOS 8) provides the flexible way for a developer to include several additional components into the application context. These components will work independently and be available in other applications like operation system components. In this case, the main application (the container) allows to configure/adjust and manage these components.

There are several types of Extensions that currently cover the minimal capabilities of system customization.

  • Today Extensions allows supplementing of a standard Today page with custom informational widgets (e.g. withdrawal of last tweets by given requests, weather, graphics or other information from the container application).
    Despite this is a great improvement, Apple limited the functionality. E.g. customized widgets, like standard iOS Today widgets, can’t receive the control of keyboard, this process is controlled by OS. The information from the widget is stored in the datashot form, the update process is monitored by the systems.
  • Photo Editing is the opportunity to supplement the system with the own photo (video) editor. The unique functionality of your media editor can be used in other applications without the explicit necessary to save/transfer images between applications. This might be applied to any application that uses the standard image gallery.
  • Custom Keyboard is a mechanism which allows to replace the standard iOS keyboard by the custom implementation in all applications. It’s so convenient for specialized keyboards development, implementation of custom character mapping and different input methods (e.g., handwriting or automatic translation to other language). Apple took care about the security and sensitive data input, a standard iOS keyboard will appear if user will try to input passwords or other secured fields.
  • Action Extension provide the possibility to create own Editor or Viewer for certain types of content (there are images, links, web pages, texts, or even files with optional content).
For example, the system can be supplemented with a chart builder that allows user to view (or even edit) mathematical formulas for any other application available in IOS!
  • Share Extension: the application can be used to post the links to social networks (or to upload different objects to the custom server solution) implicitly from any other application by standard sharing methods. This allows to replace old way to share the information by copying and pasting these links manually. By using Share Extension user will see all sharing providers among the applications as a single list.
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