What do you use your phone for the most? Calling home? Checking Facebook? Sending a text to your best friend? Listening to music? Whatever you do most frequently, you can make the task more efficient by using Launcher, a free app that made a grand return to the iTunes App Store late last week.
Launcher lets you create shortcuts to get easy access to apps from anywhere on your phone. You don’t need to press the Home button, close an app, or even turn on your phone. Save time and steps by using Launcher so you can have your favorite apps, websites and contacts at your fingertips.
Launcher is such a powerful app that it was banned from iTunes a few hours after its launch last fall. Those who were lucky enough to grab the app before it disappeared joined the developer in protesting to Apple. The good news is that Apple reconsidered their decision and allowed Launcher back in the iTunes App Store last week.
What Launcher Does
This video shows you what Launcher can do:
Launcher is an app that lets you add icons to your Today screen for one-button access to tasks such as:
- Check traffic
- View your photos
- Visit your favorite website
- Reserve a table at a restaurant
- Listen to your music
- Read a book
- Track your fitness
- Get directions
- Check status of a flight
How to Use Launcher
1. Get Launcher free from the iTunes App Store for your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 8:
2. Open the app and follow the steps to set up the app:
- Allow Launcher to access your Contacts
- Identify yourself to the app
3. Next, add Launcher as a widget to your Today screen.
4. Allow Launcher to send you Notifications.
Now you’re ready to customize your icons!
How to Add Custom Icons to Launcher
Launcher automatically adds icons to your Today screen but you’ll want to make Launcher work the best for you by adding your own icons. By taking a few minutes to add the icons you want, you’ll save yourself a lot of time later when you want to launch these apps.
To add your own icons, tap the edit button in the upper right corner of the Launcher app.
Tap the X in the red circle for any icons you want to remove. For example, Launcher added an icon for me to call my father on FaceTime but my father doesn’t use FaceTime so I removed that icon.
Tap the Add New button to add a new icon to the Today screen. You can choose from:
For each icon that you add, you can customize the name of it and the image used for the icon. Tap the gear in the upper right corner of the icon before you add it to choose the image you’d like to use for the icon.
While the X circle is showing on the icons you can drag and drop them into the position that you want. Put the ones you use most often on the ends of the rows.
Contacts give you the option of using an icon to instantly communicate with someone using phone, email, text message, FaceTime, or other messaging apps. You can also add an icon for Google, Apple or Waze maps and directions. Add a specific person or address or just add an icon to open the app and then choose the contact or destination.
You can name the icon and add the person’s photo, if you have their photo in your Contacts app.
For example, I like to call my friend Anne using FaceTime audio instead of using her phone number because she doesn’t have strong cell coverage at home. I added a button to Launcher to call Anne using FaceTime audio so I save myself a lot of steps every time I want to call her.
You can add icons to open specific apps in Launcher such as email, calendar, photos, Twitter, Facebook and thousands of other apps. When you tap the App Launcher icon, you’re shown the apps on your phone you can add to Launcher.
Look for an arrow next to some apps to see the options Launcher gives you. For example, with Facebook you have the choice to use the icon to:
- Launch App
- Go to My Profile
- Someone Else’s Facebook Profile
- Facebook Page
- Facebook Group
You could even add multiple icons for different tasks on Facebook.
Note that not all apps are supported by Launcher. If an app is missing that you would like to see included, contact the developer at this site: Cromulent Labs.
You can add icons for your favorite websites (such as The Wonder of Tech!). Tap Web Launcher, then add the name of the website and the website address/URL. Tap on the gear in the upper right corner of the icon and Launcher will try to pull a logo from the website to use as the icon image.
Launcher is free to download and use. A Pro version is available for $3.99 as an in-app purchase that lets you add more icons, adjust the size of the icons, and remove the words below the icons.
The Pro version is currently on sale, down from $4.99, to celebrate the re-launch of the app. You can grab it now to take advantage of the sale price, support the developer, and get it before the app disappears from iTunes again (hey, it could happen…).
What do you use your iPhone for the most? What apps would you like Launcher to give you shortcuts to? Do you have any ideas for using Launcher? Let us know in the Comments section below!