I’ve been using Launch Center Pro and Drafts on my iPhone for as long as they’ve been available. These apps make using my iPhone more efficient and, when set up properly, effective. I’ve not gone too deep into either app in terms of using URL callbacks and the like and I believe that those who’ve been exploring these apps may have steered clear because the advanced feature set may seem too complex to wrap their heads around. I’m no coder, so I can certainly appreciate that.
The thing is, you can really take advantage of Drafts and Launch Center Pro without spending time in those seemingly more complicated features. I’ve been using both apps very comfortably and effectively for a long time, so if you’re looking at getting into Drafts and Launch Center Pro, I’ve outlined some ways to dip your toe into these two productivity boosting apps.
Launch Center Pro
Launch Center Pro has been around longer than Drafts, and while others I know have abandoned it some time ago I’ve stuck with it for one primary reason: ease of access to a ton of apps. Frankly, that’s the main reason I added it to my app arsenal in the first place and the benefits of having an app like that is huge in terms of efficiency and, when used intentionally, effectiveness.
By using this app, I’m able to keep apps buried in folders that would otherwise need to be kept on my home screen or on my dock. Apps like Sleep Cycle, Rdio, and Downcast are prime examples of apps I use regularly that are listed in my Apps button in Launch Center Pro. I also still use Michael Schechter’s excellent setup for OmniFocus fairly often, although not so much for capture as I use Drafts more for that sort of thing.
The big thing I access Launch Center Pro for regularly is for social networking apps. By keeping the ones I use (Tweetbot, Riposte, Facebook, Google+, Path, etc.) within Launch Center Pro, I have been able to keep my social apps buried in a folder several screens into my iPhone. I use Launch Center Pro to not only check the social networks, but to post to them as well. This limits my social networking activity to within one app, which means I know the place I go to check and update social networks is not in individual apps, but in Launch Center Pro.
I’ve stopped using Launch Center Pro for most forms of capturing information, and as such don’t really use it to launch any notetaking or writing apps like Evernote or Byword. That’s where Drafts comes in.
Drafts is the app I use to capture almost every written idea or thought on my iPhone (and on my iPad as well). It’s the starting point for all reminders, journal entries for Day One, written posts bound for Byword, and any ideas or notes destined for Evernote.
Before you start using Drafts as your capture app, you’ll want to do the following:
- Only leave active the apps you plan to deliver captured items to. In my case, that meant removing/deactivating all social networking, communication, and calendar-type apps.
- Assign panes (the places where action are stored) for each type of app so it makes deliver easier. I started out by only using one of the panes, but have since expanded it to more panes that feature certain actions and apps over others. For example, Evernote actions are all stored in the first pane, writing-based apps are stored in the second pane (featuring Day One, Byword, Quotebook, as shown in the image at the top of this post), and task-based actions are stored in the third pane. You can have up to four panes, which I’ll start using once I start spending time using the advanced features like URL callbacks and so on.
There are certain things I don’t use Drafts for, however. I don’t use Drafts for messaging or email composition. Dispatch is my email app of choice and Messages works just fine for those purposes and I don’t use Drafts for calendar entry. Fantastical works great on its own for that as well.
Once you’ve set Drafts up in a way that simplifies the capture process for you, I’d put ii in your dock. Drafts lives in my dock alongside Dispatch, OmniFocus, and Fantastical. (Launch Center Pro lives on my home screen as it isn’t used as much as Drafts.) Then you’re all set to really make use of Drafts in a way that that can really enhance your workflow. Get familiar with it, and then spend time getting into the more advanced aspects of it. A great resource to look at is Federico Viticci’s wealth of posts over at MacStories and you can start adding more apps and actions directly from within Drafts using the Drafts Action Directory.
I’ve come to rely heavily on Drafts and Launch Center Pro, and if you start to use them in a way that works best for you initially you may very well find that they’re going to work very well for you for a long time to come. Don’t dive in too deep at first. Just spend time getting into them and you’ll wonder how you did without them for so long.