Windows Phone’s Start Screen is a lot like Launch Center Pro
On a recent episode of The Talk Show, Merlin Mann mentioned that the one thing he didn’t like about Launch Center Pro—a quick-action app for the iPhone—was that he had to launch it at all.
The idea behind the app is that it takes common actions you might do in separate apps—like make a call to a certain person, add a to-do in your preferred reminders app, play a certain album, etc—and place these actions in a grid, so you can get to them without having to drill down in individual apps. It’s a very good implementation, but Merlin is right. It would be nice to just be able to launch actions without having to necessarily launch apps.
Now, this isn’t a Windows Phone-is-better-than-the-iPhone post. I get that there’s major downsides to the Windows Phone, specifically in regards to 3rd party app support (and, with WP8 coming out in the fall, this will now officially never change). It doesn’t have Tweetbot, Omnifocus, or the plethora of other iOS apps pro users love. But it does have something very similar to Launch Center, and it’s the first thing you see when you turn the phone on.
Now, I don’t generally use my Windows Phone in this regard. As you can see above, my tiles are 8 of the more common. The first tile is my ‘me’ hub, which allows me to tweet, and see who’s replied to me on Twitter and Facebook. The next is the people hub, which allows me to read Twitter/Facebook updates from everyone and individual people, and email/call/sms whoever. Messaging, music videos, IE, Rdio, and email are all pretty self explanatory. I have the official Twitter up there for direct messaging, which happens enough to justify its placement.
But, if I wanted to make this more Launch Center Pro-ey, I could add tiles below these for certain actions. Windows Phone apps allow you to pin actions, lists, and contacts to the start screen, and there are apps in the Marketplace like Connectivity Tiles and Network Dashboard that allow for even more.
What I’ve got here is one-touch access to an Rdio playlist I’m listening to right now, the dropbox folder my IFTTT links reside, the Granta Twitter stream, and the live stream of Monocle Radio. Below that, I’ve got four actions: Share status, send a new text message, send a new email, and toggle Wi-Fi on and off. These are the kinds of things people use Launch Center Pro for on the iPhone, and the kinds of things that reside on the start screen (without having to launch any apps) on Windows Phone.