Launcher v5.3 was released on Monday, September 12, 2022 at the same time as iOS 16 was released, and once again Launcher has proven itself to be the undisputed leader of app launching widgets. This release contains both Lock Screen Widgets for iOS 16 and Watch Face Widgets for watchOS 9. One tap on a Launcher widget on the Lock Screen allow you to:
- Contact anyone via phone calls, FaceTime, email, or message from your favorite messaging app.
- Get directions to any location using Apple Maps, Google Maps, or Waze.
- Run any shortcut.
- Start playing music.
- Launch literally any app on your phone.
- Load your favorite websites in your chosen browser.
10 Ways Launcher Outperforms the Competition
Something about Lock Screen Widgets brought out a whole crop of new competitors to Launcher and I’ve had a bit of time this last week to check them out to see how they compare to Launcher. Now I’m certainly very biased, but I have to say that if you closely compare any of the them to Launcher you will see that Launcher is superior into them in many different ways.
Firstly, each competitor that I’ve seen so far seems to concentrate on doing one thing like contact launchers, shortcut launchers, or just launching apps, while Launcher remains the only one that does all three of these things extremely well. Please allow me to break down the many ways that Launcher is the best choice if you are interested in Lock Screen Widgets that perform any of these functions:
1. App Launchers
Launcher has had an 8 year start on most of the competing apps out there, so this comparison isn’t even close. Some of the app launching competitors claim you can “launch any app on your device”, but that is really only true for Launcher. Why is this? Because:
- Creating an app launcher in Launcher is as easy as searching for any app on the App Store and tapping on it and saving it. The app name and icon are all included in the process. Most competitors make you upload your own app icon or choose a symbol to represent the app.
- Launcher includes monochrome icons that look great on the Lock Screen for every built-in Apple app and dozens of popular third party apps. And if a monochrome icon isn’t included, Launcher will generate a monochrome icon for you for any app.
- Most competitors support launching a few dozen apps at most. I didn’t see one that supported over 150. Launcher supports directly launching over 30,000 apps and that number increases daily. Launcher has a form that you can fill out to request new apps to be added and they should be added within 24 hours.
- For apps that don’t support directly launching (which is roughly half of the apps on the App Store), the only way for a third-party app to launch another app is to launch it through Apple’s Shortcuts app. This is less convenient than launching directly, but it is a restriction that Apple places on third party apps and it is better than nothing. Launcher has shortcut launchers that can be easily imported into Shortcuts to launch every app on the App Store. It has taken several years to generate them, but we actually have over 2 million shortcut launchers available in Launcher. So when we say you can launch any app, we really mean it.
2. Contact Launchers
Launcher also has several advantages here:
- Most competitors only support making phone calls, FaceTime, messages, and email. Launcher supports these plus many popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Telegram, and many popular third party email clients. No one supports the number of contact apps as Launcher.
- Launcher supports getting directions from Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Waze. Getting driving directions to my friend’s house or my next event with one tap is my personal favorite Lock Screen launcher.
- Launcher has a unique Multi-Contact Launcher which is just one icon that you can tap that will then allow you to choose different ways to contact that person like call them, FaceTime them, message them on your favorite app, get directions to their house, etc. With limited numbers of Lock Screen Widget slots, having one launcher to provide several different ways to contact someone is really handy. [Note that this is a Premium-only feature]
3. Shortcut Launchers
Launcher makes running shortcuts easier than any other app. Here’s how:
- Launcher contains a shortcut that can be easily imported from its Options menu into Apple’s Shortcuts app. If you then run this “Add To Launcher” shortcut, it seemlessly allows you to import any shortcut into Launcher. This alone makes Launcher the easiest choice for running shortcuts from the Lock Screen.
- If you import a shortcut into a Launcher Lock Screen Widget using this method, Launcher will intelligently convert the shortcuts glyph into a monochrome icon that looks great on the Lock Screen.
- Most competitors require that you painstakingly copy the exact name of a given shortcut to set up a shortcut launcher in their app. I saw one that also had a shortcut to import a shortcut into their app, but it didn’t include the shortcut’s icon in any way, so you still have to spend time figuring out what icon you want to use to represent the imported shortcut.
4. Music Launchers
Being able to tap an icon on the Lock Screen to play an Apple Music playlist, album, or artist makes it easier than ever to start your favorite music. So far I haven’t seen any other competitor with this ability.
5. Web Launchers
Most competitors will let you enter URLs for websites so that you can launch web sites easily from the Lock Screen. Only Launcher lets you choose from 6 different web browsers.
6. Watch Face Widgets
Launching apps on Apple Watch is pretty limited, but the Launcher watch app has made it simple to start phone calls, FaceTime, Messages, Maps, and Mail to specific contacts with one tap for many years. With watchOS 9, Launcher brings this ability directly to your watch face which makes it even easier to quickly contact someone or get directions.
7. More Icon Customization Options
Launcher has more ways to cutomize icons than anyone else.
- Launcher allows you to choose any of the 3,000+ SF Symbols as icons, like everyone else, but it also includes categorization and searching of the icons which makes it much easier to choose with so many options. Launcher also allows the option to choose either a solid color icon or shaded icon on the Lock Screen. It also supports multi-color icons in its Home Screen widgets.
- In addition to the SF Symbols, Launcher includes dozen of app-specific monochrome icons and dozens more other icons to choose from so that you can find just the right icon for your Lock Screen Widget.
- You can import any photo from Photos or Files and use it as an icon. If importing for a Lock Screen widget, you will get the option to convert the icon into monochrome so that it looks great on the Lock Screen. You can also import vector icons in SVG or PDF format and they will be converted to monochrome icons as well.
8. Ease Of Use
Launcher’s interface has been refined and improved for over the course of 8 years. Because Launcher supports many different widget types, it might seem a bit daunting at first, but if you give it a try you will see that we have made it as easy as possible to create launchers and widgets and customize them without too many bells and whistles getting in the way.
For instance, by default Launcher doesn’t show the URLs that are used to launch apps because most people don’t care or need to know about custom URL schemes. You can configure Launcher to show and edit them, of course, but not showing them keeps the interface more user friendly for the average user while allowing power users to enable them if desired.
Many of the Lock Screen competitors made the odd choice to only support 4 different Lock Screen widgets total. This might make sense for people with only one Lock Screen configured, but iOS 16 lets you set up many different Lock Screen for different Focus modes or that you can just switch to whenever you want, and each Lock Screen can have 4 different Lock Screen Widgets. That’s why, with Launcher Premium, you can configure as many Lock Screen Widgets as you want.
9. Launcher Lock Screen Icons Look Better
The Lock Screen converts any icon into a monochrome icon that is shaded using the chosen Lock Screen color. It also saturates these icons in a way that makes them look a bit washed out. By default, only Launcher converts each icon in a way that keeps them looking great even when saturated. For fully monochrome icons there is no difference, but for color icons and photos it makes a huge difference. Check out an example to see what I mean:
10. Launcher Has More Widgets and Features
So far I’ve pointed out just how Launcher compares when it comes to Lock Screen Widgets. But Launcher is much more than that and has supported Home Screen Widgets since iOS 14 and the original Today View (Classic) Widgets since the day they came out in iOS 8. So if you like Launcher for its Lock Screen Widgets and you upgrade to Launcher Premium you also get great features for the other widget types as well!
- Launcher can be set up to launch any app directly from the Home Screen in all of the widget sizes. It allows you to choose different size icons so that you can fit way more app icons on each Home Screen than you can normally. It varies by device size, but on bigger iPhones you can have up to 70 app launching icons on one Home Screen page compared to the normal limit of 24. On iPad you can have up to 264 icons on one Home Screen page!
- With Launcher Premium, you can configure any new style widget (Lock Screen included) so that the icons change based on time and/or location. This means you can set up specific launchers to show at home vs. work vs. the gym. Or change your icons on the weekend or in the morning.
- Classic Widgets that appear in the Today View support advanced features as well such as folders and dynamically updating icons that can show you the weather, world clocks, CPU and Memory usage, and more. You can set up an ETA icon that will show you the estimate time to a location and when you tap it, it will launch the chosen app to give you directions to that location.
If you’ve made it this far, I can assume you can now believe me when I say that Launcher is the best app launcher on the App Store, especially when it comes to the new Lock Screen in iOS 16. If you’re still not convinced, please perform a side-by-side comparison with any other app out there and let me know if you disagree. I’m confident that’s not going to happen.