We covered App Cubby’s Launch Center Pro when it was first released in June and it’s been a regular in the Top 200 Paid Productivity apps since then. Unlike many other apps in the Productivity category, Launch Center Pro isn’t intended to track your tasks, map out your work day, or help you write up that TPS report. Instead, Launch Center Pro is meant to help you use your iPhone more efficiently but it can take some tweaking to set it up the way that will work for you the best.
When I first started using Launch Center Pro, I used it primarily as an app launcher to get to apps on the second page or later on my iPhone but found that it wasn’t that much more efficient for me than locating the app I needed through a Spotlight search. So I thought about the actions I carried out most on my iPhone that usually took several steps and started customizing Launch Center Pro to help me with those actions.
For example, I use Instagram, which I normally keep in a Photography folder on the third page of my home screen. Usually the first thing I do with Instagram is to take a picture to edit and post, a task that takes five taps to even start when I’m on my the first page of my home screen. Setting up an action in Launch Center Pro to open the camera in Instagram takes me two taps, comparatively.
Stepping back a little, Launch Center Pro uses URL schemes to interact with other apps. To work with Launch Center Pro, the developer of an app must first implement a URL scheme so that Launch Center Pro can interact with it. The URL scheme lets Launch Center Pro link to the app or even go deeper and perform certain actions directly (similar to the way a URL for a web page lets you go straight to a certain page rather than doing a Google search for it). Keep this in mind if you have a favorite app that Launch Center Pro doesn’t work with–– you may want to ping that developer to ask them to add a URL scheme so you can use it with Launch Center Pro.
The other tasks I do often on my iPhone include posting tweets through Tweetbot, calling my husband, doing a Google search in Safari, searching the App Store, and others. With Launch Center Pro, I was able to set up actions to do all of these tasks with just two taps. I keep Launch Center Pro in my dock so it’s available on every page of my home screen and here’s what it looks like (click to enlarge):
Compared to the way I was using Launch Center Pro to primarily launch apps when it first came out, this set-up is a major improvement for me and I’ve been using it multiple times every single day for months now. While I wouldn’t recommend it for someone like my mom who really just uses her iPhone to make phone calls, take pictures, and send me incredibly long text messages (that always end with “Love, Mom” like a hand-written letter), I would recommend it for those “power users” who frequently do certain tasks that can take multiple taps. It may not be a huge savings time-wise, but it adds up over weeks and months and can save a bit of frustration as well if you’re impatient like me.
Launch Center Pro currently works with hundreds of apps (you can find the complete list here). If a supported app is already on your iPhone, it will show up in the Action Composer under Installed when you go to create a new shortcut action. Creating a new shortcut action is pretty straightforward. If an app supports actions beyond simply opening it, an arrow shows on the right of its listing and tapping on that will reveal what those available actions are.
You can also create custom URLs to get a little deeper into other apps and complete more complex or very specific actions. TUAW has a good guide on how you can create these.
If you use Launch Center Pro, share your set-up in the comments.