Is there a way to open *any* app in LCP?


#1

Playing with Launch Center Pro. It does a lot of cool stuff, but one thing I’d like is to be able to put a straight-up app shortcut in a given menu.

For instance, let’s say I wanted to make a quick menu with my favorite time-wasting games. :slight_smile: The logic being that I put everything I do frequently into LCP so I get used to firing up LCP as a default.

These games obviously don’t support URL schemes or callback URLs.

In Siri Shortcuts, I can just call an “Open App” type of function. But in LCP, it seems that I need a URL scheme.

Is there a way to hack around this in LCP, other than having LCP trigger a Siri Shortcut to open the app (which is pretty slow)?


#2

LCP works purely on URL schemes.

Unless something has changed behind the scenes with Shortcuts, Workflow used to rely on known URL schemes for “Open App”; I’d guess it probably still does … but perhaps as an Apple app it has latitude to query the OS directly for registered URL schemes?

If nothing has changed, if you can open in app via Shortcuts, then you should be able to trigger it from LCP as well. You just need to identify the URL scheme. LCP has over 100K of URL triggers registered in its database (and I suspect it is growing all the time). If there’s one you don’t find in there it is probably worth contacting the app developer and the folks producing LCP to see if it can be identified/added.

Or you can Google for the details around digging around in app packages to try and figure out such URLs :wink:


#3

Shortcuts has an “Open App” option that lets you open any app on your phone. Literally, it just opens the app as if you clicked on it. The developer of the specific app doesn’t have to have implemented any sort of URL scheme.

That’s what I’m trying to duplicate in LCP.

What I’m trying to figure out is if there’s some way, via a system action of some sort, to trigger the opening of a specific app.

I can do it by calling a Siri Shortcut with the Open App method, but that’s very, very clunky. I’m looking for a cleaner way.


#4

Actually it doesn’t. Some apps don’t show up at all. It’s using URL schemes in the backend to do this.


#5

Okay, I cited a primary source reference above, Ari being one of the original Workflow team and the guy on stage talking about Shortcuts at WWDC. What’s your source for knowing that this isn’t using URL schemes behind the scenes for this any more? I’ve had a quick search and couldn’t find anything that indicates it has; but I may just have overlooked something.

Having conducted a quick survey on some of the less mainstream apps I have installed, I *think* you could be right as I haven’t identified one that isn’t listed in Shortcuts - but it’s inconclusive as I’m effectively trying to prove a negative. If it is the case that the trigger mechanism has changed, I wonder if it is now using the same trigger mechanism as Siri itself?

I got the intention behind what you wanted to achieve.

As I noted above, Launch Center Pro uses URL schemes for its launching of apps and actions. What you are looking for does not currently exist purely within Launch Center Pro.

The information about this is available in Contrast’s FAQ - Why don’t you support my favorite app in Launch Center Pro? And why don’t I see all installed apps?.

Does that clarify things?

What is it in particular about the process that is making it “very very clunky”? I can only think it is taking a long time or it is doing something unusual when behaviour-wise when running. On the basis of each of those I did a few tests.

*Timing
I ran a quick test on my 2016 9.7" iPad Pro, and it took ~2.3 seconds to open the desired app via Shortcuts. An equivalent going direct with the URL scheme from Launch Center Pro was ~1.4 seconds.
The same test on my 2017 iPhone 8+, took ~1.4 seconds and ~0.8 seconds respectively.

The hardware does make a notable speed difference, as one might expect, but even on the slower of the two devices, it only takes a second or so longer to launch the app, so very little in the grand scheme of waiting for a computer to do something.

Behaviour
It flashes up a couple of screens on the way through the processing via Shortcuts, but that’s just the automation running, so I couldn’t see anything particularly clunky there.

Maybe if you share a video or a description of the issue, we can suggest something to reduce or even eliminate the clunkiness issue?


#6

Rosemary, I’m willing to believe that, but scrolling through the list of apps I can open in Shortcuts I don’t see anything that’s obviously missing. There’s a ton that’s not available from LCP.

I have five games I just pulled as an example - Angry Birds, Monument Valley (1 & 2), Triple Town, and Strategery. These can all be opened by the “Open App” functionality in Shortcuts. None of them can be opened in LCP, from what I can tell.

If those are all opened with URL schemes, does that mean there’s a way to hack up a custom URL to open them?

Any idea how I’d go about doing that?


#7

Maybe … how to Get URL the Scheme of any app.


#8

“Clunky” is (a) having to open Shortcuts to fire up an action from LCP (a native solution, even if it took a little bit of work, would be much easier), and (b) having to go into Siri Shortcuts and manually create individual shortcuts for potentially dozens of apps I want to add to LCP.


#9

Thanks for the info on digging for URL schemes. It’s kind of a pain, but at least it solves the problem in a direct way. :slight_smile:


#10

Whilst neither aspect seems particularly clunky to me, it was a bit disappointing in regards to the Open App action not accepting a variable as input, only a list selection. Otherwise you could have simply passed in the app name as a parameter.

I tried hacking a shortcuts definition file to see if I could force it to accept the Shortcuts input variable, but it didn’t take and just displayed as “Choose”. :frowning_face:

Maybe in a future release? :man_shrugging:t2:


#11

I think the one thing I’d throw on a “wish list” for LCP is for them to include any app with a URL scheme, not just ones that are more “fleshed out”.

Some apps seem to have the ability to call by URL, but LCP leaves them off the list because there’s nothing more than that. For end-user friendliness, it would be nice if they were available from a searchable list somewhere rather than having to dig through ipa files and find things. :slight_smile:


#12

Are you sure?

Reason for asking: for me the list is very long and I’m quite sure most of the Apps in there do not offer a URL scheme.

However, that reference is 4 years old, from a time when the Workflow team was not yet acquired by Apple.

Maybe things have changed now Shortcuts is part of the OS?


#13

Read through the help link I posted earlier. They need to know what they are to add them. I dare say Contrast has the most extensive list going, and they are always happy to add more.


#14

Agreed on both parts, but I’ve not seen any other info put forward yet (the OP was quite resolute on the assertion) and much of the app functions as before. You may also note if you read back, that I surveyed my apps and could not identify any obvious exceptions, which is why I also went so far as to offer a way that it may be being done away from the original URL scheme approach.


#15

Slightly OT: there’s even an App in that list that I don’t see anywhere on the Springboard and which I cannot open via Spotlight: (Apple’s) Feedback (Assistant)


#16

I asked very early in the life of Workflow how it did its stuff and never got an answer. I suspected then it had to be “whatever works”.

I think it’s a mixture of:

  • URL schemes where supported
  • Direct invocation of the app where not

In the latter category I’d include many of the Apple-provided apps. There certainly are some without URL schemes. So it’s not just games.

I would’ve thought Shortcuts documentation for an action should say how each one works - URL scheme or direct invocation.