The iPhone's home screen is an app launcher, so it kind of seems like a silly thought to look elsewhere for the same functionality, but it's not as if the home screen is perfect. The best app launcher for iPhone is actually a combination of things: the built-in Spotlight search functionality and a jailbreak tweak called ListLauncher.
If you haven't jailbroken your iPhone yet, check out our always-up-to-date guide for assistance.
- Launch the app you need by typing its name and choosing it from the search results (Spotlight)
- Searches while you type (Spotlight)
- Displays a full list of apps on your device (ListLauncher)
- Quickly browse through apps, like you would your contacts, by tapping and sliding through the alphabet
If you have a bunch of apps, finding the one you're looking for can be tough if you don't remember exactly where you put it. This is one of the big downsides to the folder system on iOS -- it's hard to figure out where things are. On the plus side, you have Spotlight so you can swipe left to right from (or press the home button on) your home screen's first page and you'll be able to search for the app you want. It's very quick and makes launching apps a lot easier than squinting at folders. Spotlight doesn't cover all the bases, however, as you might not remember the app's name, find it complicated to type, or just aren't in a position to easily type. That's where ListLauncher comes in. It provides you with a full list of all your apps that are organised just like your contacts. You can swipe down the list, or you can touch a letter of the alphabet to jump to its position. ListLauncher fills in the missing launcher functionality you don't get by default on iOS.
Alphabetical organisation is the only option provided by ListLauncher. It would be nice to be able to organise by most popular and recently used as well. Additionally, being able to choose apps to leave out of the list would be helpful as well. When you're jailbroken, there are often a lot of things that show up that you don't want in the list, and that's probably the case with regular apps as well.
There isn't much competition in the app launcher department, but you do have a few options. All require jailbreaking and (once jailbroken) you can find them by searching in Cydia.
Android Loader is a very simple option that creates the same kind of app drawer you'll find on Android. You just pull it up from the botton of the screen and it'll give you an alphabetical list of all your apps. You can also exclude certain apps if you don't want them in the list. Additionally, you'll get music controls at the top of the drawer so you can easily control your iPod (or other music app) as well. Note: Not compatible with iPad.
Quick Launcher uses a similar format but creates its list by how much you use specific apps. It also has a more iPhone-like interface, where Android Loader does not. Note: Not compatible with iPad.
Finally, Dock provides you with an OS X-style dock on your iPhone. This is in addition to the one you already have at the bottom of your home screen. The difference is that you can swipe up from the bottom corners of your device in virtually any app to bring up the dock. From there you can cycle through open apps.
Got a favourite app launcher not mentioned here? Share it in the comments!
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