There is an excellent app for iPhone power users called Launch Center Pro. It allows power users to automate many different tasks to speed up their workflow, from sharing files to Dropbox and getting directions to setting calendar events in Fantastical and making notes in Evernote. Here's an incredibly detailed guide to using it effectively.
Launch Center Pro is pretty wonderful, but it does have an incredibly steep learning curve — something that developer David Barnard of Contrast is well aware of.
"We realize that Launch Center Pro is VERY nerdy," Barnard told me. "Our long term goal is to make the app more and more accessible to less nerdy folks."
In some ways, his newest app, Contact Center is Launch Center Pro Lite — but I prefer to think of it as an incredibly powerful Speed Dial app.
Barnard has taken the simple shortcut philosophy of Launch Center Pro and focused specifically on allowing users to start conversations. Here are some of the things that Contact Center can be used for:
- Send a group message or email
- Search and share animated GIFs
- Quickly message or email a photo
- Use FaceTime or FaceTime Audio
- Automatically paste your clipboard into an email or message
- Save time with canned messages
- Jump right to a contact in WhatsApp
- Search and call any contact
- Dial a number using the keypad
- Display contact details
The app, even in its stripped down form, can be a little intimidating for first-time users, but Contrast has some tutorials on its website and promises to add to it quickly as users try out the new app.
I set up buttons to send a quick text to my wife that I'm heading home, and I also set up a way to quickly send her the last picture I took, since those two things are fairly frequent occurrences.
Barnard says that he's not sure the app "quite passed the Mom test" yet, noting that he's seeing his mother this weekend for some usability testing. However, he believes that the doors are opened "much wider" than for Launch Center Pro.
Contact Center is a free download from the App Store, with an ad tucked at the bottom of the page. However, the ad is removable for a $3 in-app purchase, adding room for three additional shortcut buttons on iPhone 5/5c/5s screens.
Give it a shot if you find yourself making a lot of calls, sending text messages, photos, or just want a better "speed dial" for making calls, texts, group messages, or emails.
Do you have a favorite contact app for your iOS device? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.