How to Use App Extensions on an iPhone or iPad With iOS 8
App extensions allow you to extend iOS’s Share menu with any service you like, add browser actions to Safari or Chrome, use custom photo-editing tools in the Photos app, and integrate cloud storage services with any app.
Extensions are included along with apps, so just install an associated app to get its extension. You probably already have extensions for your favorite apps installed — they’re just disabled by default.
The 6 Types of Extensions
There are a number of different “extension points” in iOS 8. Technically speaking, Apple also considers widgets and custom keyboards to be extensions, although we covered them separately. Apple may add more extension points in the future.
- Share. These extensions add new destinations to iOS 8’s Share menu. You can share content directly to a website or with a specific app.
- Action. Actions allow you to “manipulate or view content originating in a host app.”
This is the most vague type of extension, but think of the Safari or Chrome web browser. When you invoke an “Action,” it allows you to modify content on the page — for example, translating its content, inserting a password from your password manager. or something else.
- Photo Editing. Photo-editing tools can function as Photo Editing extensions. These allow you to edit photos and videos directly within the Photos app.
- Storage Provider / Document Provider. Storage provider extensions allow you to access and manage a source of files. For example, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive could introduce document provider extensions. You could then open files from your cloud storage service in any app that support Apple’s standard file picker, or save files to any cloud storage provider of your choice.
- Today. Widgets — officially referred to as “Today” extensions because they live in the Today view in the notification center — are a type of extension.
- Custom Keyboard. Third-party keyboards are considered a type of extension, too.