If there is one thing you need when trying to get anything productive done on iOS, its automation. Something that had been distinctly missing from the OS up until relatively recently. Workflow is by no means a new app but it’s developers have been constantly improving it, and here is a guide on how to get started.

Workflow is the closest to the Mac app Automator you are probably ever going to see. It takes a simplistic approach to automation making your life easier. You accomplished this by combining a series of instructions, called actions, into workflows and it’s no where near as complicated as it first seems.

Grab The Workflow App

Head over to the App Store and grab the Workflow app, it is currently £2.29 in the store and can be used on all of your iOS devices. Once you have downloaded the app, head over to the ‘gallery section’ and grab one or two of the recommended workflows. When you take a look at these it will give you a good overview of how they work.

In basic terms, the app takes an input and produces an outcome determined on the actions you place into the workflow. This input can be almost - text, pictures, gps information, the sky is the limit. Workflow will help you along with a suggested actions section but you can do whatever you wish with varying results! You can be as simple or as complex as you wish, or simply download other peoples shared workflows and enjoy the results.

Actions can be placed together to create a chain, there are more than 150 actions to place into a Workflow split into 10 categories. These can be something as simple as ‘open in an app’ or fetching in depth information such as calendar appointments or wifi network names. More are being added all the time, with the latest update adding in such things as post to Wordpress, IFTTT integration and overlay images - so they really can be used to streamline your productivity.

Execution Is The Key

Your created workflows will appear in the app as icons on a ‘homescreen’ but you can also ‘start’ them in a number of different ways. The simplest way is from the app, but you can also add the icon to the homescreen or place them in the workflow widget in the notification shade.

You can also action your creations from the share sheet, allowing for immediate input into the workflow. Providing they are set up to appear here you can simply select to run workflow and it will action whatever it may be you are sharing. To do this is dead easy, simply select ‘actionable’ in the workflow options. This menu will also allow you to limit what the input of the workflow should be - images, dates, files, text etc.

Manage Your Own Workflow

The best way to learn is to have a go yourself, tap ‘create workflow’. Tap the actions tab and here you can drag in any action you wish to make your own creations. You can drag and drop in any number of actions, to test what you have done tap the play button.

If you want to get creative you can tap the gear icon to go into the settings. Along with options for where the workflow will show up, here are the options for names and a choice of icon.

The next step to get in deep to Workflows is MacStories, its creator Federico Viticci creates some inventive processes and takes requests if you want to get something specific done. There is also countless websites out there with some great tutorials to get you going.