App Review: Launch Center Pro for the iPad ($4.99), by Contrast
Launch Center Pro (for iPad), by Contrast
• Easy interface for setting up quick launch items
• Can group activities together
• Not the newest update available (iPhone version is newed)
• List of supported apps (based on installed list) is very small
Launch Center Pro for the iPhone just updated, and so I thought I would try the iPad version as well. It is still the previous version, so some of the features aren’t the same.
Launch Center Pro is a launch platform – ideally an “all in one” stopping point to launch your favorite apps and common actions. It is designed to allow you to integrate commonly used functions, both internally to the iPad (such as adjusting the brightness) and with apps (such as posting your most recent picture to Facebook). The version for the iPad is still version 2.4.1. I suspect that with version 2.5 being released for the iPhone, the iPad version will be updated to match the feature set shortly. In the meantime, I am going to focus on the differences between the two versions.
Figure 1. Large screen access with multiple themes allows for easy access to key apps and functions.
Adding actions (which also includes launching apps) is a simply process. Tap on the pencil, select a blank portion of the screen, and then add the action. You can add routine web searches, system actions, message actions, etc. You have a select from featured action, system actions, installed apps, all supported apps, and even featured apps (probably an attempt to get you to purchase specific apps you may not have). Adding an action is simple – click on the app/action, provide details (if needed, like the contact you want to text), change the icon if you want, and you are set to go! The installed app list was not very extensive, which is probably one of the reasons they are touting over 100K supported app in the new update (not yet available for the iPad).
Figure 2. Select from installed apps, featured apps, system functions, and more when choosing the add a new app or function.
One of the nicest features is the ability to “group” actions together. So, for example, you could set up actions to test message a few different people, then group them together in a “Text Message” group. Each action is still separate, but to access them, you tap and hold the group button, and the individual actions pop up. How you group is up to you – you could group all actions for one person together (so you can call you mother, text her, message her, email her) as one group, or choose an “email group” with everyone you email the most.
Figure 3. When adding an app, you can choose specific parameters and options to customize the launch.
Unlike with the update, there is now Today widget integration. In my mind, this loses a lot of the functionality of the app. You can certainly put Launch Center in your dock for quick access, but you still need to open the app in order to access the fast lunch buttons. In addition, the list of supposed apps seems to include apps that I have installed - but if I click on the option, it brings me to the App Store! This seems to be a major issue that will limit the ability to add new features. Apps I have installed, even if they are listed under the supported app list, do not always appear on the installed app list (like Amazon instant Video).
Figure 4. A bug in the installed and supported app lists prevents me from accessing some of my apps. For example, I have messenger installed, but if I click on the app, it takes me to the App Store.
The help options seem somewhat limited. The app itself is pretty intuitive, but it would be nice to have some sort of detailed manual. There is a tutorial video you can play. Unlike the iPhone version, the help video is actually based on this version of the app. There is still limited help available – no manual for example, which would be nice to have available. However, the ease of use with the app is pretty straightforward, so you can probably make do without any complex help system.
All in all, this is a useful, potentially time saving app that probably has an update coming soon that will increase functionality. At $4.99, the price is reasonable for a well-designed, high function app. It isn’t a universal app, so you would need to by a separate version for the iPhone (reviewed separately), but I can see this app getting a lot of use. While the update does add some nice features, I also wish some of the features (especially the “installed app list” were kept in the new version, so don’t get too used to it. A major bug in the list of supported apps and installed apps means that I can't create shortcuts for all the apps I have. Three out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.