Apple may start selling extension apps for its Messages app

FIG. 5B hows an example of a user interface of an extension app, after the user has created content in the extension app, wherein the view of the extension app is hosted within the user interface of the messaging app.

Apple may start selling extension apps for its Messages app that runs on macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS. The company has been granted a patent (number 11,375,345) for a “message extension app store.”

About the patent 

In the patent, Apple notes that the use of text messaging systems began many years ago. For example, wireless cellular telephone carriers, such as Verizon or AT&T, allowed text messages through the Short Message Service (SMS) for cell phones in the 1990s before smartphones were available. 

Typically, the amount of data transmitted has been limited by rules established by the carriers. Recently, as the use of smartphones (e.g. iPhones) and tablet computers (e.g. iPad) has increased, the text messaging systems have developed the ability to send images, such as photos or emojis. And, of course, messaging systems such as Messages allows users to also send and receive text and images through “public” networks which include “public” WiFi access points and the Internet.

Apple wants Messages users to be able to easily find and add extension apps for better showcasing content in messages. This patent is for an app store that could provide browsable views of extension apps which can be downloaded and installed from the app marketplace or similar service.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A service for providing messaging extension apps can be an online store that can be browsed and searched for the apps. The store uses extension app identifiers which are related to app identifiers that are sent between devices in a conversation of messages so that a receiving device can, when it does not have the extension app installed to interact with received content, use the extension app identifier to download and install the required extension app. In one embodiment, the download and install can occur while the messaging app remains the foreground app, and the messaging app adds an icon of the newly installed extension app into a browsable tray in the UI of the messaging app.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.