'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.

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.

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]

Top Rated Comments

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65 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.
Rating: 18 Votes
65 months ago
yeah, i like this decision.
Rating: 17 Votes
65 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.
Rating: 15 Votes
65 months ago
Thanks Obama!
Rating: 13 Votes
65 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).
Rating: 11 Votes
65 months ago
"Item is no longer available"
Rating: 8 Votes
65 months ago
About time Apple got their heads from their arses.
Rating: 6 Votes
65 months ago

So, perhaps someone can explain this to me.

Why is Apple so finicky about what they allow these apps to do? Don't they realize that if a user doesn't like what an app does, they can just remove the app?

It just seems odd that they'd be initially so against something so useful. If a user has a serious problem with Launcher wasting space, they can easily uninstall it.

App approval should be about stopping genuinely bad apps, whether that be malware, apps that destabilize the phone or have excessive bugs, and so on. There's no valid reason "Launcher" ever should have been an issue.

> > US ER EX PE R IE N CE < <

That's why. They think that apps that have the potential to do negative things, will ruin the experience of users.

e.g. an app that runs continually without the user realising, and then deadens the battery quicker, making their hardware look shabby. And other similar potential reasons... I believe other apps had the potential to use too much memory, or suchlike.
Rating: 5 Votes
65 months ago
That is complete BS...

"Apple relaxing over time" is just a cop out for the real reason Apple just refuses to say.... What proof are they trying to hide ?

An app developer deserves to know why, or why not their app was removed, put back etc... *exactly why* not a vague description.

Apple's just trying to be smart, instead of telling the truth...

It's not like it's a secret, like an update waiting to come fourth on OS X or iOS...its a app, so its already public..... It was just pulled for wrong reasons, Apple later re-instated because of so-called "changes" to a limited version that does more caught Apple's "limited span"

I agree that changes happen with policies, but again, i have to keep coming back to the old ways of saying "often people do not communicate well with each other inside Apple. If everyone agreed on the same rules set forth and never allow something originally that's not present in the rules, then there won't be a problem."

No wonder why developers choose to release apps outside of the App Store.. And for good reason. I would have. No app developer should have to put up with these constant changes that no one at Apple can even agree on, but later decide to change back...... across any app they choose.

Policies are there for a reason..... I understand its something users must follow, but i didn't know Apple could break them either. But that's what they are doing.
Rating: 4 Votes
65 months ago
"There's an app for that."

Surely this functionality should be built into the operating system, rather than yet another app.

App overload these days. Everything from an app to open an app to an app to not have to open an app.

Rating: 4 Votes

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