With iOS 16, Apple has introduced many new features and frameworks that include a new framework called App Intent. This framework allows you to expose any features or capabilities that you would like to use with the Shortcut App, Siri etc.
What is Intent?
The intent is a single feature that your application exhibits to the system. It will enable applications to communicate with one another and respond to user requests. This feature may be to get back data from your application. It includes making a phone call, sending an email, or opening a web page, by selecting an option in one app, without having to open the app directly.
These functions fully depend on the effectiveness of your application and your imagination.
App Intent framework.
The App Intents framework provides a programmatic means to make the content and features of your application accessible to system services.
This programmatic approach allows you to showcase all the capabilities of your app.
App Intents makes your app features available in more places. It includes the Shortcut app, Spotlight, Focus filters, and Siri which results in a huge benefit for the users.
From a user’s perspective, app intents make it easier and faster to complete everyday tasks through voice, touch, and automation. By supporting intents in your app, you can give your users a whole new way to take action by speaking a simple phrase. You no longer need to hold your device in your hands and can quickly access app features and multitask.
You can use this approach to deliver metadata, user interface information, activation sentences, and other information that the system needs to initiate the app’s action. Each intent provides descriptive information about itself that Siri and the Shortcuts app can display or announce.
Implementation of App shortcuts with App intents
If you want to access a screen for your favorite daily sports activity tracking app you have to close the application that you are currently using and then need to take your sports app and need to click on the button to show the summary screen of the sport app to get your daily activity summary.
Luckily, with iOS 16, that time-consuming user experience can be eliminated and replaced by simple voice interaction.
This is referred to as an app shortcut and in iOS 16 it no longer requires any additional user configuration.
An App Intent is something you can do in your iOS app. They don’t do anything by themselves, but users can create helpful shortcuts with them through the Shortcuts application.
The application shortcut is the means by which you can perform some tasks quickly without opening the main application and going to a specific section. They are automated shortcuts that app developers create for users so that they don’t need to.
With an App Shortcut, your App Intent can be activated by your user immediately after your app is installed, without any further configurations.
The process of creating an app shortcut can be broken down into two steps:
- Create an App Intent that represents the action to perform.
- Create an App Shortcut to carry out the action based on the App Shortcut
A simple “struct” should be created to implement the “AppIntent” protocol, which uses a protocol called ‘AppIntent’. App intent contains the code required to perform an action and the data needed to perform that action. The actions are exposed directly by the shortcut app and indirectly by the NLP commands heard from Siri. App Intent acts as a bridge between your code and these system services.
Generally, an intent consists of three main components:
- Metadata (the information about the intent such as the title shown in the shortcuts app).
- Parameters (the user inputs that your intent requires through a keyboard, interactions or Siri).
- Perform method (responsible for running the main function when the intent is executed).
The “app intent” protocol is required to define a single property “title”. The action that will be listed in the shortcut action will take this property as a title.
Sample code snippet for App Intent:
When the App Intent protocol is implemented, the intent will be installed automatically in the shortcut app, once the user installs the main app.
Here are a few examples of app intents:
- Ordering Food: An app could allow users to place an order for food delivery or pickup, using the app intent framework to allow for a seamless ordering experience.
- Booking a Ride: An app could allow users to book a ride with a ride-hailing service, using the app’s intent to display ride options and make a booking with just a few taps.
- Making Payments: An app could allow users to send payments to other users, using the app intent framework to initiate a payment and display information about the transaction.
- Booking a Service: An app could allow users to book a service appointment, such as a hair salon appointment or a massage, using the app’s intent to display available appointment times and make a booking with just a few taps.
- Send a Message: An app could allow users to send messages to friends and family, using app intent to display a list of recent contacts and initiate a message with just a few taps.
The benefits of using the app intent framework are:
- Improved Inter-App Communication: The App Intent framework enables apps to communicate with each other more effectively. This makes it easier for users to share content and data between apps.
- Improved User Experience: Intents provide a consistent and unified way for users to achieve their goals. Thus, making it easier for them to perform tasks within and between apps.
- Increased Discoverability: By supporting intents, apps can advertise their capabilities to other apps. This, in turn, increases their visibility and discoverability.
- Increased App Functionality: By enabling apps to work together, the App Intent framework increases the overall functionality of the device. For example, a photo editing app could integrate with a camera app to provide a seamless workflow for taking and editing photos.
- Increased Productivity: The ability to perform tasks quickly and efficiently can lead to increased productivity for users. It’s because they are able to complete tasks more quickly and with fewer distractions.
Overall, the intent framework in iOS provides a flexible, powerful, and efficient mechanism for app interoperability. This, in turn, improves the user experience, and enabling greater app discovery and usage.
In conclusion, App Intents are a powerful tool for improving the user experience. It’s because they allow for seamless interaction between different app components and apps. It also provides a unified and consistent way for the user to achieve their goals without directly interacting with the main app.
They provide a powerful new way for app developers to allow users to perform actions within their apps using the same simple, intuitive interface. With the App Intent Framework, developers can create intents that allow users to perform tasks. The tasks includes ordering food, booking rides, making payments, booking appointments, and sending messages, all with just a few taps. By taking advantage of the new capabilities provided by app intents, developers can provide a more seamless and convenient experience for their users. Additionally, they can enhance the value of their apps.
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