How to Do More in Safari for iOS with Extensions

A long-standing complaint about iOS is the tight degree of control Apple exercises over what apps are able to do. Those restrictions have been relaxed in iOS 8 to allow apps to extend the system’s capabilities in defined ways. This means you aren’t reliant on Apple adding support for a particular social network to be able to share something directly to it, and kludgy workarounds such as special bookmarklets that send a web page to an online service are no longer necessary.

Extensions enable photo-editing apps to make filters and tools available within the Camera and Photos apps. Information from apps can be displayed in widgets in Notification Center’s Today panel, and acted upon from there. New keyboards enable entirely new input methods to be used, which can make life easier when typing into forms, for example. But it’s the aforementioned ability to share a page to new places and perform new actions upon it, such as translating it between languages, that is particularly relevant in Safari.

Let’s take a look now at where to find apps that add extensions, and find out how to activate, manage, and remove them.


How to Find Extensions

1. Finding Extensions

There’s no Extensions category in the App Store because apps of all kinds include them, but Apple showcases good examples here. If you have a recent version of something there, you also have its extension, but you may not like an extension forcing its way onto the sheet that appears when you tap a Share button, so turning it on is up to you.

2. Extensions for Sharing

Apple’s curated selection is organized by the types of extension. Scroll each row horizontally to see highlights, and tap See All, towards the right of any row, for more. The bottom two groups contain Share and Action extensions — look here to add support for social networks and online services not accommodated by iOS itself.

3. Install an Extension

Pocket is a bookmarking service similar to Safari’s built-in Reading List but with some organizational features that Apple’s offering lacks. Download it now. That’s all that’s required to get an app’s extension on your iPhone. Using this one requires an additional step, besides turning it on: open its app and follow the prompts to sign up for the free online service.


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