'Launcher' Returns to the App Store After Apple Relaxes Policies

Back when iOS 8 first launched, Launcher was one of the first apps to take advantage of the new widgets allowed in the Notification Center, and it introduced shortcut functionality that let users launch an app or complete a task like calling a specific person with a single tap.

Apple approved the app and allowed it to exist in the App Store for over a week, but then the company made the decision to remove Launcher from the App Store, calling it a "misuse" of widgets. Since then, Apple has gone on to make a series of questionable decisions about widgets, banning apps for similar widget offenses and then later changing its mind.

Up until now, Apple has not reversed course on Launcher, but that didn't stop Launcher developer Greg Gardner from continually resubmitting different variations of the app in the hopes of creating something Apple would find acceptable.

launcher1
Earlier this month, a limited version of Launcher gained App Store approval (a version with only calling, emailing, messaging, and FaceTime access), and when Gardner asked for clarification on why that was acceptable when his original app was not, Apple reviewers opted to revisit the first Launcher app and stated that its functionality was now acceptable.

According to Gardner, he did not have to remove any of the original Launcher features to get it re-approved in the App Store. Apple reportedly told him that when a new feature first launches, they are conservative about what they allow, but restrictions sometimes relax over time. "That is what appears to have happened in this case," Gardner told MacRumors.

Due to Apple's decision reversal, Launcher will be available for download again beginning today. It's already propagating in some countries, and will be in the U.S. App Store tonight.

Launcher has retained all of its original functionality, which means users can download the app and use it to set up shortcuts that will appear in the Today view of the Notification Center. Available shortcuts are organized into four sections: Contact Launcher, Web Launcher, App Launcher, and Custom Launcher.

With the Contact Launcher, it's possible to create shortcuts to call someone, email someone, FaceTime someone, get directions to a specific place, Message someone, and more. The Web Launcher sets up shortcuts that will automatically launch a specified URL, and the App Launcher lets users open a specified app and works with both Apple apps and third-party apps. The Custom feature lets users create buttons for any installed apps and any other URL schemes.

launcher2
Launcher also offers a few new features, including a much-requested option to make the icons smaller and hide labels for a more compact look within the Notification Center.

Launcher can be downloaded from the App Store for free, and the pro version is available as a $3.99 in-app purchase. The app is still rolling out to App Stores so it may take a short while before it is widely available to everyone. [Direct Link]

Popular Stories

Apple Intelligence General Feature

Apple Intelligence Features Not Coming to European Union at Launch Due to DMA

Friday June 21, 2024 9:44 am PDT by
Apple today said that European customers will not get access to the Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring, and SharePlay Screen Sharing features that are coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac this September due to regulatory issues related to the Digital Markets Act. In a statement to Financial Times, Apple said that there will be a delay as it works to figure out how to make the new...
Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
amazon echo dot

Amazon Could Charge Up to $10/Month for Alexa

Friday June 21, 2024 2:55 pm PDT by
Apple competitor Amazon is working on a revamp of its Alexa assistant, and the new version could cost up to $10 per month, according to a report from Reuters. The upcoming version of Alexa will support conversational generative AI, and Amazon is planning for two tiers of service. There will be a free tier and a second, premium tier that is priced at $5 at a minimum, with Amazon considering...
General Spotify Feature

Spotify Launches Cheaper $10.99/Month Premium Plan Without Audiobooks

Friday June 21, 2024 4:22 pm PDT by
Spotify today announced the launch of a new Basic paid plan that offers a small discount for dropping access to audiobooks. Priced at $10.99 per month, the Basic option includes all of the music benefits of Spotify like ad-free playback, but without added monthly audiobook listening time. The $11.99 standard Premium Individual plan that Spotify offers includes ad-free playback and 15 hours...
iPhone 16 Pro Max Generic Feature 2

5 Biggest Changes Rumored for iPhone 16 Pro Max

Wednesday June 19, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Given Apple's rumored plan to add an all-new high-end tier to its iPhone 17 series in 2025, this could be the year for Apple to bring its boldest "Pro Max" model to the table — the kind of iPhone 16 upgrade that stands tall above its siblings, both figuratively and literally. If you have been holding out for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, here are five of the biggest changes rumored to be coming...

Top Rated Comments

newtestleper Avatar
121 months ago
We waste days browsing Facebook and the like but, my God, we need a quick access point to call or email somebody. Phew.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
misterpip Avatar
121 months ago
yeah, i like this decision.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kaibelf Avatar
121 months ago
If this is really permanent, and the take down is not temporary, I'll say goodbye to my Nexus 5 Android.

Seriously? You'd change phones and platforms over this? Okay.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
taptic Avatar
121 months ago
Thanks Obama!
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ipedro Avatar
121 months ago
I hope iOS 9 introduces a Dashboard. These widgets make absolutely no sense in the Notifications pull down. Dashboard would be great to the left of the first Home screen (where Search used to be).
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
b166er Avatar
121 months ago
"Item is no longer available"
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)