1. cjvitek's Avatar
    Launch Center Pro (for iPhone), by Contrast
    $3.99, ****

    Pros:
    • Easy interface for setting up quick launch items
    • Widget integration for quick launch
    • Can group activities together
    Cons:
    • No “installed apps” option
    • Some “supported apps” give error message upon launch (still work though)


    Speed and saving time – that’s what it is all about now. With that in mind, I decided to try out Launch Center Pro for the iPhone. They just released a new update, and I wanted to see how it faired.

    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 iPhone (such as turning on your hotspot) and with apps (such as posting your most recent picture to Facebook).

    App Review:  Launch Center Pro for the iPhone (.99) by Contrast-photo-sep-18-2-50-34-pm.jpg
    Figure 1. An big, easy to use screen makes it easy to choose the app, or group of functions, you want for quick access. In this case, pushing down on the "apps group" pops up a new list of easy access apps.

    The new update indicates two new features - increased compatibility with 100K new apps and support for the “today” widget. Both of these are readily apparent when you start the app – the new “Today” widget integration is the first thing under the settings menu, and the 100K new apps are apparent when you start to create an action. In addition to actions (which also include launching apps), you can add routine web searches, system actions, message actions, etc. You have a list of “featured apps” which may have some sort of partnership agreement with Contrast because it included apps that I don’t have nor use. 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!

    App Review:  Launch Center Pro for the iPhone (.99) by Contrast-photo-sep-18-2-38-51-pm.jpg
    Figure 2. To add an app or function, simply touch the pencil, and then select a blank field with a "+". To remove an app/function, just hit the "x".

    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.

    App Review:  Launch Center Pro for the iPhone (.99) by Contrast-photo-sep-18-2-39-04-pm.jpg
    Figure 3. Easy to select apps or functions from pre-determined lists, like featured apps and system functions, or the full app list.

    One thing that is lacking is an option to select actions from installed apps. The 100K compatible apps are great, but I don’t want to have to scroll through the entire list. Thank goodness they allow you to search for an app, but you still can’t determine if you have an app installed on your device or not. In fact, you can add an action and it only becomes apparent when you try to engage the action.

    App Review:  Launch Center Pro for the iPhone (.99) by Contrast-photo-sep-18-2-41-47-pm.jpg
    Figure 4. To add an app, just select the app, define any parameters, and that's all!

    The Today widget integration is very nice – especially if you have a few, “use all the time” actions to which you want quick access (such as directions for driving home, or calling the wife). There doesn’t appear to be a limit to the number of widget actions you can add, just keep in mind it somewhat defeats the purpose if you have to scroll through pages to find the action you want.

    App Review:  Launch Center Pro for the iPhone (.99) by Contrast-photo-sep-18-2-43-05-pm.jpg
    Figure 5. Today widget integration is nice, and allows for even faster access to commonly repeated tasks (or emergency apps like Dragonvale!)

    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, but it has not been updated and include options that are not available in the current release (apparently there use to be an “installed apps” option when adding an action, but no more). You also have a FAQ available, but it would be nice if there was a more detailed manual.

    I did get an odd error message when I launched Dragonvale through Launch Center. It said there was some sort of crash, and asked me to hit okay to continue to load. This is odd because Dragonvale is listed as a supported app, so I am not sure if all “supported apps” are truly, 100% compatible with the app.

    All in all, this is a useful, potentially time saving app. At $3.99, the price is reasonable for the functionality it provides. It isn’t a universal app, so you would need to by a separate version for the iPad (reviewed separately), but I can see this app getting a lot of use. I wish there were a couple of common sense features and a little better tutorial/guide, but the app clearly provide a solid benefit. Four 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.
    Last edited by cjvitek; 09-18-2015 at 05:08 PM.
    09-18-2015 04:56 PM
  2. pr1nce's Avatar
    Thanks for the review.
    09-18-2015 05:22 PM
  3. Ledsteplin's Avatar
    Thanks. I found it not user friendly. The text in the tutorial was too low contrast for me to read. Deleted it.
    09-18-2015 06:06 PM
  4. stepchild's Avatar
    Thanks for the review. I also thought leaving out installed apps to be a big con. Another issue, for me, is you have to have apps on a page before you can put them in the widget. I just think that is extra stops that are not really needed.
    09-19-2015 12:23 PM
  5. StraightlineBoy's Avatar
    I'm yet to decide whether it's a useful app for me or not. Kind of like with Workflow I'm not sure if the app just isn't suited to how I use my iPhone or if I've just not figured out what it can do for me. I like the idea of having shortcuts on my lock screen but so far I've added an "add event to fantastical" button and one to take me straight to the alarm clock settings (which I can now hide away in a folder) and that's it. Perhaps it's an app for someone who does more than simply launches a load of apps.
    09-23-2015 01:33 PM
  6. truenorthstrong's Avatar
    I like Launcher better
    09-24-2015 11:40 PM
  7. cjvitek's Avatar
    I think with a lot of the "quick launch" apps, it is really about usage patterns. If you set it up correctly so that you can more quickly launch apps you use often, it is a time saver. However, it may take some time to optimize how you set them up.

    In general, I have found that you really need to train yourself, and use the launch apps all the time, otherwise it just isn't beneficial.

    Launch Center Pro also just updated to include quick launch items with the 3D touch setting, so that might help things out a bit.
    09-29-2015 01:23 PM

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