From launching specified URLs and apps and scheduling text messages to quickly firing up the Instagram camera, Launch Center Pro ($4.99) is a handy way to perform common tasks on your iOS device. With each new upgrade, additional supported apps and actions are added that can save several taps or opening of folders. The release of the second version includes an iOS 7 redesign with several new features for customizing and adding keyboard prompts to actions.
Apps like Launch Center Pro appeal to users who want to get the most out of their iPhone or iPod touch. Launch Center Pro provides one of the best solutions for automating iPhone tasks, similar to how it’s done with automation programs for the Mac, like Keyboard Maestro.
The app has been on my iPhone homepage ever since I first reviewed it for MakeUseOf back in October of 2012 so let’s see what the new features have to offer.
How It Works
You should read my previous article for a detailed look at how Launch Center Pro works, but in a nutshell it consist of actions you build for launching apps, performing web searchers, making phone calls, sending emails and text messages, or quickly adding events to your calendar. The homepage of Launch Center Pro consists of single actions or groups of actions with customized icons.
In the above screenshot, some of my actions include one for quickly sharing a photo link in Dropbox, opening the Jazz page in the iTunes Music Store, launching MakeUseOf in Safari, and a group of weekly scheduled actions for launching other apps.
Search Prompt Action
Since it was first released, Launch Center Pro has always been able to launch specified URLs, but in version 2 you can add a search term prompt action for supported websites, like the Kindle Store. Since there’s no dedicated app for the Amazon Kindle Store, I’ll create one. Here’s how you do it.
Start a new action by tapping the pencil icon. Tap on an open spot on the Edit Action page, and select Action.
In the resulting page, tap on the Action Composer, which connects you to the actions and apps that support Launch Center Pro. For this search action tap on System Actions and then Safari. Notice there are several Safari related actions for launching a bookmark, a Google or Bing search, or connecting to Google Transit Directions. Choose one that is useful for you.
The action you choose will be given a default name, which you can change. Next, tap on Search Terms. You get a couple of options for the type of search you want performed. You can have Launch Center Pro prompt for a search term, which is the action on the far left of the menu. You can have it search a term on the clipboard, or you can type a specific term that you might frequently search. For this tutorial, we’ll add the keyword prompt.
Tap on the prompt icon and then tap Keyboard. Next, tap Done. Version 2 offers more features for customizing and thus further distinguishing the icon for individual actions. Tap on the Icon section and then tap on Custom to change the style, color, and icon image. Notice, you can now also use a photo from your Camera Roll as an icon.
When you’re all set, tap Done. When you tap on the action, the keyboard prompt will pop up for you to enter your search term, and Launch Center Pro will launch the site, in this case the Kindle Store, and will automatically enter the search term. Currently App Store search URLs for Launch Center Pro aren’t working for iOS 7, but the developers say they will be added back when Apple fixes them.
explains additional keyboard types for input prompts; for example, adding an email address code so that keyboard automatically includes the “@” key.
Dropbox Photo Post and Link
In the Action Composer, the best supporting apps are the ones that have URL schemes for a particular set of functions that you normally do with several taps. For instance, in System Actions, there’s a set of in-app Dropbox actions for quickly adding a file or photo to Dropbox and copying a link to the posted file or photo on the system clipboard, where it can be pasted wherever you need it.
To set up this Dropbox action or to create a new action, select System Actions > In-App Dropbox > Upload Last Photo & Copy Link. You can simply use the default settings or customize them.
Other Third-Party Apps
When you have some time, browse the supporting third-party apps for Launch Center Pro. You may already have many of them installed on your device. Check out apps like Camera+, Fantastical, Instagram, Tweetbot, and Yelp that include actions that can save you some tapping and get at their functions quicker. For example, the Instagram app has an action that will automatically open the app’s camera, and another one for taking you directly to a specified Instagram user’s stream.
If you’re fairly new to the iPhone, Launch Center Pro may feel a little difficult to use. But after setting up a few actions, you’ll see why it might just belong on your iPhone’s homepage for quickly launching apps and executing actions.
Download: Launch Centre Pro ($4.99)
Let us know how you use Launch Center Pro, and what other features you would like to see added.