Apple (AAPL) - Get Report on Wednesday acquired a popularautomation app, Workflow, for an undisclosed sum and made it free on the App Store for the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Previously, the app cost $2.99.
The app's motto is "spend less taps, get more done" and Workflow can automate a wide range of shortcuts across multiple apps, such as using a tap to automatically request an Uber to take you to a preset location, or to show you the top news stories from the day.
Users can navigate to the "Gallery" page to add or delete task options from the app's home page. The Workflow options in the Gallery are created by other people, but users can create their own tasks as well.
Apple's move to make it free on the App Store seems out of character for a company that has often been criticized for its expensive prices on products relative to its competitors. Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster said Apple most likely kicked down the small $2.99 pay wall in order to increase the users on the app which, in turn, will help them get more data on how people are using the app so it can make appropriate improvements.
"Apple has been accused of being tone deaf when it comes to prices so this is an example of it making small adjustments to the new world order where you have to make the app free in order to get data on it," he explained.
The tech giant's long-term plan for the app appears to be to integrate it with its voice-activated helper Siri and other artificial intelligence (AI) applications, Munster said. Workflow can be used to better automate everything from smart home features to a calendar app. "This is an example of AI making our lives better by having different applications talking to each other and thinking about how to best accomplish the tasks for user's day," Munster explained.
As part of the deal, the app's three creators, Ari Weinstein, Conrad Kramer and Nick Frey are all joining Apple. "We are thrilled to be joining Apple," Weinstein said in a statement to techcrunch.com. "We've worked closely with Apple from the very beginning, from kickstarting our company as students attending WWDC to developing and launching Workflow and seeing its amazing success on the App Store. We can't wait to take our work to the next level at Apple and contribute to products that touch people across the world.
While tech companies will sometimes make an acquisition just to acquire top talent and then retire the product -- so-called "acqui-hires" -- that doesn't seem to be the case here considering Apple has had its eyes on the app since 2015 when it presented the team with an Apple Design Award.
Apple explained why Workflow won the award in a statement to techcrunch.com, which first reported the deal. The app was selected for a design award because of its "outstanding use of iOS accessibility features, in particular an outstanding implementation for VoiceOver with clearly labeled items, thoughtful hints, and drag/drop announcements, making the app usable and quickly accessible to those who are blind or low-vision."
Editor's pick: This story was originally published on March 23