Launch Center Pro 2.2 Update

Today, Contrast releases an update to Launch Center Pro. The 2.2 update also acts as the first version of its iPad app. The new iPad version makes it possible to interact with iPad-only apps, such as Mr. Reader and Editorial.

This update brings several new features, such as multitouch support group and move action between groups. Now, you can launch actions from within a group by using two fingers: one finger to open the group and another to tap the action. You can also move action from one group to another, or to the home grids (and vice versa). This makes it easy to organise the actions without having to copy and paste the URLs.

Tweet a code snippet via Dropbox

Launch Center Pro 2.2 also brings a set of new Dropbox text actions. You can now create, append, and prepend text files in your Dropbox folder.

If you're familiar with Drafts, these actions are already available in Drafts. What makes the Launch Center Pro actions different is its ability to retrieve the shareable link to the Dropbox file. The link is copied to the clipboard and can be chained for other purpose.

For example, I can put a code snippet (that's longer than 140 characters) into the clipboard. Then, I trigger an action in Launch Center Pro that allows me to save the clipboard into a new Dropbox file in a specified folder, use the current timestamp as its name, and retrieve a shareable link for that file. The link will be put into the clipboard, and the action will automatically forward it to Tweetbot for composing a tweet that contains the Dropbox URL.

Open this link to automatically install this action on Launch Center Pro 2.2 on your iPhone. Note: I used David Sparks's TextExpander date/time snippets to get the current timestamp for the filename.

Launch Center Pro 2.2 enables a new set of iPad-only apps to interact with it.

Read a Paragraph (or more) in Mr. Reader with iOS Text-to-Speech Feature

Launch Center Pro 2.2 also brings two new features: dictionary lookup and text-to-speech. Both of these actions use the built-in features of iOS 7.

Both actions support x-callback-url, allowing us to chain it with another action - or simply return to the app who invokes it. For example, I can create a custom action in Mr. Reader that would send the currently selected text into Launch Center Pro to be processed by iOS 7's text-to-speech feature. This allows me to select one or more paragraph in Mr. Reader on my iPad, and continue my activity on my Mac.

To install this action in Mr. Reader, you need to tap the Settings icon on the sidebar, select Services, and scroll to the bottom until you find Add Other App. Tap on the menu, and select another layer of Add Other App menu, and write the details shown in the screenshot above.

Both of these actions (speak and define) are modal to the user, meaning you can't navigate away from Launch Center Pro without ending the action. In the definition popup, you also can't go anywhere but return to Launch Center Pro. But if you use the x-callback-url's x-success, Launch Center Pro will wait until you finish with the previous action.

Export Action using Command-C

Even though Launch Center Pro allows you to backup your actions in Dropbox and load them up in another iOS device, there really is no way to select the actions that you want to import. Each time you perform a restore on the target device, it will overwrite all actions currently installed on the target device.

How can we export only the relevant actions from the existing copy of Launch Center Pro for iPhone to the new iPad version? For example, the iPad version would not support the phone call feature. I also would not use it to open iPhone-only apps, such as Dispatch.

My solution is to edit the action to be exported, copy the URL, and return to launch mode. Then, launch this Export action, and watch how the URL is encoded and prepended with launch://import?url= before being sent via Command-C to another iOS device. On the receiving end, you can wait (or check the Notification Center manually) for the import URL to arrive. Once it arrives, simply tap on the URL to add the new action to Launch Center Pro.

Open this link to automatically install this action on Launch Center Pro 2.2 on your iPhone. Note: To easily encode the clipboard contents and turn it into a separate variable, I use TextTool. It's one step easier compared to Launch Center Pro's approach to text encoding.

The action works smoothly. I can move only the actions that I want to share from my iPhone to my iPad. The only drawback to this approach is you have to define the action name manually - usually after the action has been imported. I have tried putting a [prompt] somewhere in the URL to define the action name, but the encoding is just too ugly to debug.


While the 2.2 update is not as major as the previous two updates, it is still an update that many people have been waiting for. Now, people who use the iPad predominantly, can tinker with the integration that's made possible with the new Launch Center Pro for iPad. To learn more about the new features, you can read the official release notes on Contrast website.

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