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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Mobile Apps

Supercharge the iOS Notification Center with Launcher

Access your favorite apps, contacts and websites with just a swipe and a tap.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

After launching last fall and subsequently getting pulled, the Launcher app from Cromulent Labs recently returned to the App Store. The app, the full name of which is Launcher with Notification Center Widget, is free and universal and lets you launch apps and actions from the the iOS Notification Center. A $3.99 | £2.99 | AU$4.99 in-app purchase lets you increase the number of icons you can add to the app's Notification Center widget. In a nutshell, Launcher lets you keep your favorite apps, contacts, and websites just a swipe away.

After installing Launcher, you will need to launch the app to add and arrange the icons -- or "launchers" in the app's parlance -- you want to show up in its Notification Center widget. You will also need to add its widget to Notification Center.

Launcher starts you off with a handful of default launchers and suggests setting up some contact launchers. You can set up a contact launcher to call, email, message, or FaceTime one of your contacts.

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

To add other launchers, tap the Add New button on the app's main screen. There are four types to choose from: Contact Launcher, App Launcher, Web Launcher, and Custom Launcher. We've covered Contact Launchers. As the name suggests, an App Launcher lets you launch an app. You simply pick from a list of your apps, but if an app on the list has an arrow along the right edge, it means you can have the launcher perform a specific task instead of simply launching the app. For example, you could have the Mail app open the compose window or even open the compose window with it addressed to someone you email frequently. Or you could have Google Maps open with directions from your current location to your home.

A Web Launcher lets you open Safari to a designated Web page, while the Custom Launcher works similarly to a Web Launcher where you provide a name and URL but with slightly different options for choosing an icon for the launcher.

The free version of Launcher provides two rows of icons to the Notification Center widget, which brings the total number of launchers to eight for an iPhone and 12 for an iPad. The paid Pro version lets you add three additional rows and shrink the size of the icons so that you can squeeze in up to 20 launchers on an iPhone and 30 on an iPad. The Pro version also lets you hide Launcher labels, which is the text below an icon.

While Launcher lets you launch apps and actions from the Notification Center without first swiping to unlock your iPhone or iPad, you will need to enter your passcode before being taken to the app if you have such security measures in place.