Launch Center Pro 2

Launch Center Pro 2 <3

David Barnard’s Contrast (previously App Cubby) shipped a massive update to the quick shortcut app Launch Center Pro for iPhone today.

Launch Center Pro 2 delivers an iOS 7-inspired user interface and a gorgeous new icon as well as several new features including Dropbox backing up and restoring, various themes, action sharing, and more.

People often ask why anyone would need a separate app to do what their home screen does, but as Contrast’s tag line explains, it allows you to “Launch actions, not just apps!” I’ll share a few of my favorite actions below.

Call Your Mom

Okay, so this first one is admittedly a little sappy, but I feel okay about it considering it made the top of the list of sample shortcuts: call your mom. Yes, that’s right. It’s an action that makes calling my mom (Hi Mom!) require a little less friction than a simple favorite on the Phone app.

Launch Center Pro 2 supports scheduled actions creating notifications for shortcuts essentially putting actions right on your lock screen or in Notification Center. Simply swipe the “Call Mom” notification and you jump right into a call with… her.

Search Safari Super Quickly

If searching Safari was the only thing Launch Center Pro could do, I would still be happy to have it on my home screen. Opening Safari to quickly search something then seeing the last tab I viewed unnecessarily reloading is more frustrating than any slow animation. It’s especially inconvenient if that last tab was a YouTube video and suddenly Safari has hijacked the Music app (we really still have these problems in seven years of iOS development? Okay, maybe it’s pretty edge case, but still…).

Launch Center Pro supports a ton of search actions, my favorite being Search Google and Search Wikipedia, both of which were stripped from Spotlight in iOS 7 (your guess is as good as mine), and Search 1Password is also lightning fast.

It’s by far the quickest way to find what you need without the past being drudged up first. It’s the little things, right? Adjusting to these quicker routes really can alleviate points of friction when surfing through iOS.

Start A New Document in Byword

This function is similar to Drafts, the text editor that always launches with a blank canvas for quickly capturing text then sending off to other destinations. But rather than launching Drafts and navigating through the share sheet, Launch Center Pro enables you to launch a brand new file in Byword with a clean template.

This is seriously useful for me as the document automatically syncs across iCloud from the iPhone to the iPad and Mac (a destination Drafts currently lacks).

While you can’t share the file to nearly as many destinations as Drafts allows, it’s a very practical shortcut when you know the text will make its way to Byword and you want to skip first navigating through your file list to compose a document.

Extra Fun with Launch Center Pro

I made room for automating a bit of fun in Launch Center Pro 2.

Following a URL scheme supplied by Tweetbot, I was able to create an action that literally unfollows my colleague Michael Steeber on Twitter with the tap of a button. Michael infamously prefers design from iOS 6 over iOS 7 (luckily Launch Center Pro has an option for its classic theme), so if he complains about the new design direction on Twitter too much, I can launch a friendly unfollow faster than ever!

Of course, I always follow again (hard to resist the opposition), so I should probably create a Follow Steeber action to compliment the existing shortcut (of course you can do that).

Summary

All kidding aside, Launch Center Pro is one of those Wow! apps for iPhone if you find any points of friction around iOS, repeat a task frequently enough to automate, or just want to keep in touch with friends and family a little easier. And with the launch of version 2, Launch Center Pro feels right at home with the rest of your apps on iOS 7.

Launch Center Pro 2 for iPhone is available for $4.99 on the App Store and a free update for existing Launch Center Pro customers. Contrast expects to ship Launch Center Pro for iPad later this year.

Stay tuned for that and take Launch Center Pro 2 for a spin!

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