Make iPhone actions easier with Launch Center Pro
Launch Center Pro is an iOS app that helps you get more out of, and do stuff more efficiently with, your iPhone or iPod touch. This week’s video shows you how you might take advantage of Launch Center Pro to be more productive.
Hi, I’m Macworld senior editor Dan Frakes, and I’m a big fan of Contrast’s $5 Launch Center Pro (4.5 of 5 rating). This launcher-style app for iPhone and iPod touch saves me enough little bits of time here and there that it’s earned a place in my iOS dock.
But whenever I try to explain Launch Center Pro to people, I come up a little short, because it’s a difficult app to explain. So in this week’s video, I’m going to show you some of the ways Launch Center Pro helps me be more productive.
What is Launch Center Pro?
Launch Center Pro lets you create actions, which are discrete tasks based on a particular app or system service. The simplest action you can make just launches an app, but many apps allow Launch Center Pro to control them using specially formatted URLs. If you don’t know the proper URL syntax, that’s OK— Launch Center Pro’s Action Composer makes it easy to create common useful actions, such as creating a pre-addressed email message or, in my example here, starting a new custom timer in Contrast’s own Timer app.
Once you’ve set up some actions, Launch Center Pro sits at the ready, waiting for you to use it to perform those actions more quickly.
So what can you use it for? Here are a few examples.
Emailing to a group: iOS still doesn’t support email groups, but you can get this feature using Launch Center Pro. For example, I have an action called Email Editors. When I tap it, it creates a new email message pre-addressed to all of the Macworld editors. You can create as many of these group-email actions as you need.
Contacting my wife: My wife and I communicate many times, and in many ways, each day. Without Launch Center Pro, when I need to contact her, I first need to decide how—text, email, phone (and which number?)—before I can even begin the process. With Launch Center Pro, I just tap and hold on my “wife” group, which presents me with all the ways I might get in touch: text, home phone, mobile, work phone, or email. I just slide my finger over the one I want and release, and the appropriate app opens. For text or email, the resulting message is pre-addressed; for phone calls, the phone app dials the number immediately.
Performing common Web actions: There are a dozen or so things I do on the Web, but I would normally start them in various different places. Instead, I’ve got a Launch Center Pro group that acts as a unified starting point for all these actions: performing Web, dictionary, thesaurus, or Wikipedia searches; opening or searching the Macworld and TechHive websites; searching for MP3s on Amazon.com; opening a URL that’s on the clipboard without having to launch Safari and then use iOS’s kludgy paste procedure; typing a URL, or even just opening a blank Safari page. It’s all right here.
Grouping related actions: You might even create a group of actions aimed at a particular type of content. For example, Scott Newton posted on App.net a screenshot of his clipboard-actions group, which includes the things he’s most likely to do with text that he’s copied to the clipboard: searching the web, creating a new journal draft or text document, posting to Twitter or App.net, saving a URL to Instapaper, opening a URL in a browser, creating a new task, and so on.
Various common tasks: I’ve also got actions that convert clipboard text to plain text, let me quickly email the contents of the clipboard, upload my most-recent photo to Dropbox and grab the URL for sharing, create a new draft in Drafts or a new task in Things, create a new text message using templates I’ve stored in Dropbox, and much more. And if you miss iOS 6’s feature for posting to Twitter and Facebook from within Notification Center, you can create Launch Center Pro actions for those tasks, too.
These are just a handful of the possibilities that I’ve come up with. You’ll surely be able to come up with many more that are just as useful for you. Thanks for watching.
Launch Center 2 brings iOS 7 design sensibilities to the popular launcher app, with a refined interface and many improvements that increase productivity and make setting actions up easier. Read the full review
- Greatly speeds up many common tasks
- Supports a wide range of apps
- Allows you to back up and share your custom actions through Dropbox
- Requires some discipline to use