Launch Center Pro, or Get to Everything on Your iOS Device in One Touch

A model rocket launchingThink, dear ProfHacker readers, with me back to the beginning of this school year: about your plans to do better in your teaching, to do better in your research, and to blog more regularly. It turns out that ProfHacker too has aspirations at times that we don’t meet completely. For instance, you might recall our podcast. After a glorious first episode that aired in 2009 featuring Merlin Mann, we took a three-year hiatus (as all rockers do) until releasing episodes two and three this past September. Believe it or not, we recorded a fourth episode. Rumor has it that Jason is still editing it in his home studio, trying to give Kevin Shields a run for his money.

In any case, at the very end of episode three (starting at 40:50), Jason mentions a new favorite app of his, Launch Center Pro and how we hadn’t reviewed it on the site yet. Well, today’s the day, and it makes a fitting follow-up to my post last week about learning your keyboard shortcuts. For at its heart, Launch Center is a shortcut app for your iOS device. Launching the app takes you from the regular screen of your iOS device to a new gridded layout. On here you’ll find choices for email, phone, text messages, and more.

Screenshot of Launch Center Pro

Sure, you say, I can get to all of those things from the home screen of my phone. But it turns out you’re not simply opening your email; instead pressing the “New Email” button in Launch Center begins composing a new email. Similarly, the “New Message” button drops you into the composing screen of the Messages app. It’s a small difference, and only saves you one click but it’s tremendous once it begins to play out over multiple uses each day.

What Launch Center is, then, is not so much a shortcut to the different apps on your phone, but instead a shortcut to the different actions within those apps. This might be easier to understand if you saw it in action. Fortunately, Launch Center has a video:

Launch Center Pro from App Cubby on Vimeo.

But Launch Center is just getting going because you can customize the layout of the screen and then start nesting actions within each other. For example, if I thumb over “Amber” in the center of my screen, I get a subscreen with all the different actions I have associated with my wife: texting her, immediately dialing one of her numbers, sending her an email, and so on. I just move my thumb over the action I want and release. In one touch, I’ve started texting her.

Subscreen for actions

I have other sub-menus to drop me into other apps and their actions and once you’ve spent a little time with Launch Center, you can literally get to everything on your device with a single touch. It’s the perfect solution for the fact that the iPhone lacks speed-dial.

Launch Center has become so integral to my daily life that it takes up one of the four slots in my iPhone’s dock, even booting my beloved Pocket. The app costs $5 (disclosure, I paid for my own copy), and it’s been worth every penny.

Do you use Launch Center Pro? What’s your favorite combination that you’ve created? Or do you have a different way for getting around your phone? Let us know in the comments!

Lead image: Telstar Test Launch / Steve Jurvetson / CC BY 2.0

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