I'm sure you can think of one person to whom you frequently send emails from your iPhone. What steps do you take to do so? (1) Tap the icon for the Mail app; (2) Tap the compose new e-mail button at the bottom right of the screen; (3) Start to type a few letters of the person's name; (4) See the person's name appear in the list below the "To" field; (5) Tap the person's name; (6) Tap in the "Subject" field. At this point you can finally enter your subject and then the body of your email. When you think of it, that is actually quite a few steps, and I can't even imagine how many times I've done all of that on my iPhone. Launch Center Pro is a new app that let's you perform many common iPhone tasks that involve launching apps very quickly, cutting down on the number of steps required to do so.
So getting back to my compose an email example, with this app you simply launch Launch Center Pro, and instead of the six steps outlined above, you just press your finger down on the Email icon, slide over to the name of the person, and then you are done. The Mail app launches, the email is already addressed, and the cursor is already flashing in the Subject field — but you've done so in a way that cuts out over half of the steps I identified above. I know that it seems like an extra step to have to launch the Launch Center Pro app first, but because the overall number of steps that you have to do is greatly decreased, the app improves your efficiency.
You need to take some time to configure Launch Center Pro to meet your needs, but then once you do so, you can become much more efficient with the app. Here is what my Launch Center Pro home screen currently looks like. In other words, this is what I see when I launch Launch Center Pro:
As you can see, you have spaces for 12 different icons, and right now I'm only using nine of them. I may not ever put anything in the two bottom right boxes because I am right-handed, and thus my thumb partially covers those two boxes which would make it more awkward to select them, although of course I could do so.
When I press down on the "Email" icon in the middle of the screen, the screen instantly changes to display shortcuts to different names. You can select any names from your contacts, and if you are right handed like me I find it easier to place those shortcuts on the left portion of the screen so that your thumb can just push down on "Email" and then slide over to the shortcut and then lift your thumb. That's it.
When you pick up your finger, the Mail app launches with the email properly addressed and the cursor waiting for you in the Subject field.
If that was all that Launch Center Pro did, that would be enough for me to recommend the app to anyone who, like me, sends emails from the iPhone to some of the same people over and over again. But that is just the beginning.
You can also configure a similar trick for text messages. Thus, to send a text message to your friend John, instead of finding the Messages app, going to the list of conversations, finding the one that pertains to John and then tapping on it to send John a new message, all you have to do with Launch Center Pro is launch the app, push down on your text messages button (I called mine "Text" but you can call it whatever you want) and the slide over to John's name and lift your finger.
You can do the same trick for making phone calls. It works the same way. Tap Phone, then slide over to the person. For some people you may set up multiple icons, such as one icon to call your spouse at home, one to call your spouse at an office, one to call your spouse on a cell phone, etc.
You can do the same trick for launching bookmarks in Safari.
And you can do the same trick for launching other apps. The Launch Center Pro app has a list of apps that it can launch, and right now it is a relatively small number. But for many of these apps, you can not just launch the app but also perform a task. So for example, I have a shortcut to the IMDb app (Internet Movie Database) that not only launches the app but also jumps directly to the search field so you can, for example, enter the movie title and quickly settle the bar bet over which actress was in the movie. For Facebook, I have one icon that launches me into the News Feed portion of the app, and another that launches me instantly into the Friends portion of the app.
On my Launch Center Pro home screen I have two other button that are very useful. One of them is called Flashlight, and it just turns on the LED light on the back of the iPhone. I have another app that does this, but I use this function enough that it is nice to have a quick toggle for it in Launch Center Pro.
The other button I have is a brightness toggle. I normally keep my iPhone at about 60% brightness, but when I am using my iPhone outside in the sunlight I like to increase the brightness to 100%. By simply tapping the button, I automatically bring the brightness up to 100%, and then when I tap it again the brightness returns to my normal level. This is much faster than launching the Settings app and finding the Brightness area and using the slider to change brightness. If you find yourself commonly reducing brightness on your iPhone, you can of course use the toggle this way as well.
And I still haven't discussed everything that this app can do. Do you commonly send people an email that has a specific subject and/or specific body of text? You can configure a Launch Center Pro action to do that. If you use Twitter on your iPhone, there are tons of shortcuts that you can configure if you use Tweetbot and other options if you use Twitterific or the app from Twitter itself. You can open a box to enter a Google search term, which is a little bit faster than launching Safari, and then opening a new tab, and then tapping in the search box. And the list of options goes on and on. You also have lots of options for changing the icons in the app, and of course you can easily slide the icons around to arrange everything just how you like it.
The developer of this app, App Cubby, used to sell a simpler version of this app called Launch Center which you could use to launch other apps. The "Pro" in Launch Center Pro is there for a reason — you can do a lot more with this app, but you need to take the time to configure the app in the first place and that might scare off some people, especially if they are new to the iPhone. But if you are the sort of person who doesn't mind configuring a utility once to make yourself more efficient many, many times in the future, then I think you'll really like Launch Center Pro. I'll admit that when I first heard of this app it sounded a little complicated to me, but then once I took a look at what it could do I quickly spent three bucks to get it, and I'm really glad that I did. By the way, the app currently sells for the introductory price of $2.99 but will eventually increase to $4.99.