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The best launcher apps for iOS

Michael Simon | June 19, 2015
iOS navigation has matured to the point where it doesn't matter where our apps are hiding anymore--with a swipe and a few taps we can navigate through the deepest of folders in just a few seconds. Power users can manipulate iOS to do their bidding: We can launch apps, make calls, and send messages without needing to jump through a single home screen hoop, thanks to a little help from the Notification Center, Siri, and even Spotlight.

But what truly sets Launch Center Pro apart from the field is its third-party app support. An exhaustive catalogue of apps are available in its Action Composer, including a tab that neatly delineates the ones installed on your device, and many of them have bundled actions to make things even easier. The ones without action rely on a knowledge of URL Schemes and input tags, which have a bit of a learning curve, but even if you stick with the ones that are included, there's plenty Launch Center Pro can do.

In addition to shedding the tedium from tasks like searching through a mountain of contacts or capturing thoughts before they escape, the app also integrates with the popular IFTT to trigger recipes for things that go beyond the scope of your iPhone, like turning on Hue lights or adjusting your Nest thermometer. Furthermore, actions can be scheduled to launch at determined times or locations, and you can automate posts, tweets, and uploads for whatever your favorite service may be. 

But even if you don't take advantage of its advanced features, Launch Center Pro still offers a bountiful array of shortcuts to simplify life on your iPhone. Even if you've become a wizard at navigating your home screens by touch, Launch Center Pro can still enhance your iOS experience in wonderful ways. It's so good in fact, I had a hard time finding anything that rivaled its power and versatility.

The app's friendly interface makes it so the learning curve is only as steep as you want it to be. If you're looking for an easy way to access your favorite apps without messing with your home screen layout, it can do that, but even beyond its most basic function, Launch Center Pro doesn't necessarily require an understanding of how it works. Power users can dig as deep as they want, but the "Pro" surname need not scare away novices.

The beauty of the app is how it manages to simplify the inherent complexity of what it does. Even with extensions, Apple has gone to great lengths to keep the iOS framework as basic as possible, and Launch Center Pro manages to adhere to that doctrine even as it augments it. Simply put, no other launcher I tried was able to match Launch Center Pro's speed and dexterity,

So for this roundup, there won't be a runner-up. Rather, I have collected a series of apps that either argument Launch Center Pro or fill the small voids it leaves. If you want a complete shortcut solution for your iPhone, Launch Center Pro isn't just my top recommendation for an everything launcher, it's my only one.


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