Before iOS 8, every app on your iPhone was effectively its own tightly guarded silo. Conceptually, documents would be saved ‘inside’ of apps, and sharing options were limited to those social networks Apple directly integrated into the operating system, or required awkward and complex workarounds.
As of iOS 8, everything changes. Although your iPhone still isn’t as ‘open’ as your PC or Mac, Apple has introduced a range of features that significantly changes how you can work with content on your device. In this round-up, we look at our favorite apps and services that take advantage of the Share sheets found in the likes of Safari, Photos and many other apps.
Share sheets, naturally, are for sharing content. Prior to iOS 8, you had access to Messages, Mail, Twitter and Facebook, but any app can now offer sharing functionality, which is activated by the process shown in the brief walkthrough below.
Activate share sheets:
1. Open a Share sheet by tapping the Share icon. You’ll see the usual Apple options.
2. Scroll to the right-hand side and you’ll see a More button. Tap it to access share options based on installed apps.
3. On activating any of those services, they then appear (in context) in Share sheets, ready for use.
This means alongside Apple’s own small selection of sharing services, you can easily send content to Instapaper, Evernote, Tumblr and more.
Now that you’ve activated those share sheets, here are five essential iOS 8 app sharing extensions for your iPhone and iOS 8 that will help you get started…
1. Transmit iOS
Size: 12.8 MB
Developer: Panic, Inc.
Transmit in many ways points to the future of iOS rather than just its present. It’s a ballsy and ambitious app, bringing desktop-style file-transfer management to an iPhone. If you were being reductive, you’d call Transmit an FTP client. You can use it to connect to FTP servers (and also SFTP, WebDAV and Amazon S3), and manage all your files in the normal manner. But Panic attempts to take things to another level.
First, the interface is gorgeous. This isn’t a company creating a workmanlike tool for tedious tasks, but infusing genuine beauty into file management. What’s more, the color used throughout the app brings a great sense of clarity, highlighting important actions, targets and item types. Smartly, it also incorporates drag and drop, making it easy to move files around — and if you’ve an iPhone 6 Plus, you get a traditional two-pane view in landscape.
Using Share sheets, you can send content to your server via Transmit, and opening/saving round-tripping is supported for apps using the new iCloud document picker. Right now, those are few and far between, meaning you’re more often lumbered sharing copies of files instead. In a sense, then, this is in part an app waiting for others to catch up, but even the toolset that’s more immediately useful makes it a must-buy for anyone who regularly deals with remote servers for websites, personal cloud storage or group collaboration.
– Great sense of design
– Very reliant on server speeds
– Waiting for others to catch up
Size: 25.8 MB
Developer: Instapaper Holdings, Inc.
The idea behind Instapaper is similar to (and actually pre-dates) Apple’s Reading List — when you find a web page you like the look of, but don’t have time to read, you can save it for later, rather like a TV show on a PVR. Where Instapaper differs from Apple’s implementation is in not saving the entire web page — instead, you just get the main content (text and images), presented in an minimal and very effective readable manner.
If you don’t pay, you can still save articles in the normal manner, but $2.99/£1.99 per month gets you access to full-text search of your archive, and text-to-speech playlists. For us, Instapaper was always the best app for sharing content to a kind of temporary storage, and this update is a big improvement on what was already great.
– Makes any website readable
– Fast and efficient
– Can become a dumping ground
– Perhaps too minimal for some
Size: 54.1 MB
Evernote is in some ways similar to Instapaper, in that it’s designed for you to stash things for later. But as the app’s elephant icon might suggest (since elephants ‘never forget’), Evernote’s not there for temporary storage, but as a place to save things you potentially want to keep forever.
The interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, in part because Evernote offers so many options. You can save all kinds of things, from websites to audio snippets, and these can be assigned to specific notebooks, along with tags and reminders attached to them.
With iOS 8, Evernote gains the ability to share content from a wide variety of apps, massively increasing its usefulness on the iPhone, propelling it from primarily being a place to peruse your collection to one where you can much more easily add to it.
The free version is a fine place to start, but there’s an optional Evernote Premium subscription for those who need it. With that, you can take notebooks offline (to access them without a web connection), annotate PDFs, and create rich contacts from business cards. The premium version also adds TouchID support, ensuring no-one else’s eyes can peek at your snippets.
– Share feature works nicely
– Stashes practically anything
– Interface remains a bit fiddly
– Might bewilder newcomers
4. Day One
Size: 29.0 MB
Developer: Bloom Built, LLC
Journalling is something you often think of as a very old-style pursuit, scribbling diary entries in the days before your world was shared on Facebook and Twitter. However, while social networks are very powerful, they’re not very private, and you don’t own any of the information, which could vanish overnight. Day One takes a very different approach, bringing the best ideas of a traditional diary to your iPhone and updating it for the modern age.
The interface is as sleek as they come, pushing your content to the fore when you look at an entry; in the Timeline view, images and dates are clearly visible, making searching through old entries a breeze. Images and text (including rich text) can be added to any entry, along with weather conditions, your location and a timestamp. However, there’s no support for time-based media like audio and video.
Sync is ably handled via iCloud or Dropbox, and you can export entries to PDF by date-range, so your content isn’t forever locked into the app. Handpicked entries can also be published publicly if you wish. As ever, it’s the iOS 8 updates that really shine, and now Day One offers a lovely Today view widget, and the means to add content to it from the likes of Photos and Safari.
– Beautiful interface
– Secures your data
– Little personalization
– Static content only
Size: 21.6 MB
Where Day One is private, Tumblr is public — a social network for posting thoughts, images and anything else that takes your fancy. It comes across a bit like a honed-down mix of Facebook and Twitter, but has a much stronger emphasis on focus, topics and tagging. This means users quite often run multiple blogs, for example one for general posts and another about a hobby, such as cooking or sports.
The iOS app has always been pretty straightforward for posting new content and following other users, but everything’s sped up considerably with iOS 8’s new Share sheets. You can post content from any compatible app, and either fire it straight to Tumblr or define some settings to save the post as a draft or schedule it to go live at a specific time.
In use, we found a few issues here and there — the app froze a couple of times when we tried to upload very large photos, and it doesn’t work in the background. However, a quick restart and all is well, and Tumblr remains a great option for anyone who wants to share a public blog with the world, but doesn’t really want the hassle of maintaining anything complicated.
– Vibrant, diverse community
– Plenty of sharing options
– No background uploads
– Share option sometimes chokes on large images
The best of the rest
OmniFocus 2 for iPhone
$19.99/£13.99 • 17.1 MB • v2.3.1 • The Omni Group
The premier ‘get things done’ app for iPhone now enables you to use Share sheets to add content directly to a Project, a Context or your inbox.
Free • 24.5 MB • v5.6 • Read It Later, Inc
Similar to Instapaper, Pocket enables you to save web pages for later, pulling just the content and imagery into a streamlined feed.
Free • 29.6 MB • v3.9.1 • Pinterest, Inc.
A tool for finding inspiration and inspiring others via pinned content, Pinterest on iOS now enables you to upload content from any app that supports Share sheets.
Free • 25.8 MB • v2.8 • 500px
A popular photo community service that really puts imagery first, 500px now benefits from you being able to share directly from Photos.
Free • 20.3 MB • v2.3.8 • Flipboard Inc.
The personalized magazine now enables you to send any Safari content to it via the Share sheet.