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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.

Additionally, music lovers should check out Music Launcher(free; $3 in-app purchase for Pro version), which puts your favorite songs and podcasts right in your Notification Center for easy playback. If you spend a lot of time navigating to your music app of choice, this will be a godsend. Just pick the songs or podcasts that you want to add and all you'll need to do is pull down the Notification Center to access them. And you can even shuffle, skip and repeat tracks right in the widget.

Honorable mention: Alloy 

Alloy ($6) is an app that's easy to overlook (as I write this, in fact, it doesn't have enough ratings to generate a star average), but there's a lot to like about it. The interface doesn't quite have the sophistication of Launch Center Pro, but there's a definite thoughtfulness to the experience. It's sort of like a mash-up between the iPhone and Apple Watch, with a home screen-style grid and circular icons, and it's as easy as it looks to organize your shortcuts and actions. A dynamic Favorites menu in the bottom-right corner keeps track of your recent and most-used tasks, which are mirrored in the handy Notification Center widget.

The library of bundled actions is far smaller than Launch Center Pro's, but something about Alloy kept it on my radar even as I tested other launcher apps--it's not able to live up to the high LCP bar in its current incarnation, but with a little polish, a price cut, and some tweaks to the somewhat confusing action composer, it could be a great launcher one day.


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