Launch+ : Quickly Access Apps and Data

With the lack of widgets built into iOS, the desire to perform actions quicker is usually requested. Some people turn to jailbreaking to achieve quicker access to apps and settings, but I believe most users would rather not deal with the extra work. URL schemes have become more popular with launcher apps which allow for apps to communicate with each other in a certain way. Whether if it is to open the app or to perform an action in the app, url schemes can make sharing data easier.

Launch+ aims to help alleviate some of the troubles of sharing data across apps. By using url schemes, apps can be opened and data can be shared across iOS. Launch+ also includes reminders which can remind you to launch an app or send a text message to someone. Does the iPad need a launcher app since there is a considerable amount of more room for more apps? Read on after the break to see.

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Quick Access Using the Launcher

Upon first use of the app it comes standard with access to setting level controls. These are for music, volume and brightness, and can be removed if you would prefer to have more space for other controls. I would not figure these would be that useful since a double tap on the home button will reveal the multi-tasking tray and provide the same amount of access.

The app is setup with music controls, tweeting shortcuts and new entry shortcuts.

The app is setup with music controls, tweeting shortcuts and new entry shortcuts.

Also included in the standard setup is a tweet menu which allows for a new tweet to be composed, tweet the currently playing song, tweet a picture or tweet the contents on the clipboard. The most useful setup functions are the Create New Contacts and Calendar Events. I imagine most users do not like to keep the contacts app on their homescreen. Having the ability to jump into Launch+, press Add a Contact and enter the details is useful.

The app becomes more useful once you have added some personal launch items.

The app becomes more useful once you have added some personal launch items.

The launcher would be bare if those were all the controls it offered. Therefore, a user can add more customized actions to help tailor the app to their needs. Pressing the + button brings up a menu to with several different options. Options included within the menu are:

  • icon panel
  • link to a person
  • create new
  • search
  • launch website
  • launch app

Adding an Icon Panel adds a row for the user to add more shortcuts, too. In a sense, it just adds a placeholder until the user decides what app shall take its place. Linking to a person allows the user to quickly text message, email, FaceTime or map the route to a contact. This is very similar to your favorites list in the phone app on the iPhone. Create New includes options much like the previously mentioned choices for creating a new contact and calendar entry.

Selecting an App Store shortcut.

Selecting an App Store shortcut.

Search allows the user to quickly search using Google or Bing utilizing the clipboard contents. Launch a Website will put a shortcut to the user specified website. For websites that require constant monitoring or just your favorite site, setting this up might be easier than using bookmarks. The Launch App option will put shortcuts to apps within the launcher. These shortcuts could be for just opening the app or for more powerful actions such as creating an action in OmniFocus.

Within the launcher are two different rows, including icon panel rows and launcher rows. The icon panel rows include multiple icons for different app actions. The launcher rows include just one action for an app. I tried to figure out the true difference between these categories and unfortunately, I could not realize why one would be preferred over the other. Both rows make it easy to push the action so maybe it is a style preference.

Reminders

The reminders section of the app is the other main part of Launch+. The reminders section allows users to schedule actions. These can include reminders to launch apps. In testing I found three useful scenarios for this. I try to do some type of devotional everyday. I have found the easiest way for me to accomplish is to do it in the morning. Setting up a reminder to launch the Bible app helps me remember to perform this action.

If you find yourself opening the same apps at certain times of the day regularly, using reminders could help alleviate the tediousness of the task.

I also have a daily task to read every night. This task does not apply to reading on the Internet, but must be in book form. Performing this action every night is helping me reach my goal of reading more books. Using Launch+ I can setup a reminder to read every night. The final use case is handy for GTD (Getting Things Done) users. Ever have trouble remembering to perform your weekly review? I forget all the time and I just did not like creating a task to review my other tasks. With Launch+ I can schedule my weekly review and have an alert let me know to perform my review every Sunday evening.

Reminders are great when you need to launch an app at a certain time.

Reminders are great when you need to launch an app at a certain time.

Reminders are not just useful for launching apps but also for launching a new message, email or FaceTime call. I have found it really useful to schedule some of these conversation starters. For example, if I saw that my friend’s birthday is on Friday but it’s Monday, I can schedule a FaceTime call to wish them a happy birthday. Scheduling messages can be useful when you need to remind someone of something on a specific day but it is too early to remind them currently.

It is worth noting that these notifications from the reminders will get pushed to the notification center and lock screen which makes it easy to perform the task. Just tap on the notification and the Launch+ app will open followed by the action specified in the reminder.

Features Needed

While I find the scheduling of messages and emails very useful there is one important feature I wish was included. I wish text could be entered into the reminder at the time of creation. Most likely I am already thinking about what I want to convey to the person when I am creating a reminder and I wish I could get that information off my mind within Launch+. That way when the reminder activates, I act on the notification and it displays my text which has already been input into the message ready for my review.

Another disappointment is the number of url schemes in Launch+ seems lacking when in comparison with other launcher apps. A lot of my apps were supported for opening, but I found the url schemes for performing more actions lacking. For example, in Launch+ I can open Simplenote, but I cannot create a new note from a shortcut like in other apps.

Conclusion

Initially when first saw the Launch+ app I was hoping for something similar to Launch Center Pro on the iPhone. While the premise is the same the design and some of the features seem not as high quality. With that said, I do see room in my workflow for Launch+. The app can be great for reminders to open apps or contact someone at a given time.

Launch+ is also useful for hiding away less used apps that you need to have quick access. For some users, a launcher may not seem like it is needed due to the amount of icons that can fit on the iPad home screen, but with the usefulness of reminders and other advantages, Launch+ has earned its keep on my iPad.


Summary

Launch+ helps alleviate tedious processes in iOS by setting up launch reminders and new entry panels to share data and actions across apps.

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