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Launch Center Pro adds custom home screen icons to iOS via Shortcuts workaround

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Apple’s Shortcuts strike again

Image: Launch Center Pro

Launch Center Pro can now be used to create custom iOS home screen icons, a feature that Apple hasn’t previously officially supported on its phones. The new functionality is coming with version 3.1 of Launch Center Pro, which includes a new Icon Composer that was originally designed to let you create your own “App Store quality” icons within the app. However, its developer quickly realized that it could use the Add to Home Screen feature in Apple Shortcuts to allow people to use these icons outside of the app on the iOS home screen.

To be clear, this is a really hacky way of adding the functionality, and Launch Center Pro’s developer is upfront about its limitations. For starters, the app isn’t able to make icons with transparent backgrounds, so it fakes it by exporting each icon with either a solid white or black background. This means your iOS background has to be one of those colors for the transparency effect to work. Even then, there are visual artifacts when you have a white background, like a thin gray line that’s visible around the outside of each icon. The workaround process means the Shortcuts app will open quickly before the app you’ve selected will open. Finally, the functionality works best on iOS 13, the upcoming version of Apple’s software that’s still in beta.

It was a very similar story with Launch Center Pro’s previous attempt to use Shortcuts to circumvent the restrictions of iOS. With version 3.0, the app added the ability to tap an NFC tag and have this trigger various actions; adding functionality that Android users have had for years. However, the feature forced you to jump through a series of hoops every time you wanted to make it work, and it wasn’t nearly as convenient in practice as it was in theory.

Launch Center Pro version 3.1 is launching today. It’s free to download, but you have to pay $11.99 per year for all of its features or $35 for lifetime access, which is a small increase from the app’s previous cost of $9.99 per year or $30 for lifetime use.