x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

App of the Week: The Launch Centre app promises to save us time

The Launch Center app promises us yet another time-saving tool to incorporate into our digital lifestyles.

The Launch Center app.
The Launch Center app.

No matter how many times we hear it, read it or think it, there really is no such thing as a "time-saving device". Since the age of Thomas Edison, it's all been just one big lie.

Take the washing machine, for example. My grandmother, born in 1899, spent the better part of her young adult weekends washing clothes, from fetching the water to heating it in a big pot, to scrubbing on a washboard, to hanging it all on a line outside.

When the electric washing machine debuted for most Americans in the 1950s, it promised to be the pinnacle of "time saving" at the "touch of a button".

But guess what? When it became less back-breaking to be clean, we decided we might as well be more clean, more often. Or, as my grandmother told me in the mid-1970s: "I spend as much time washing now as I ever did. But back then, we just stank more."

Thus, as a chore gets easier to do, the social standards (for example, standards of living) for a job well done rises until the new-and-improved method gobbles up at least as much time as the old way.

When our neighbours started putting every strip of fabric in their home on the gentle cycle at least once a week, rather than stirring it in a pot of soapy water once every fiscal year, we eventually took a whiff, got the hint and started doing the same thing.

And it is for this same reason that smartphones, touted as the latest, greatest time savers, now seem to take up so much of our time.

The app

Fortunately, there's Launch Center (iPhone, iPad; Dh3.67), a smartphone short-cut app that promises to give us yet another speed advantage, at least until it, too, becomes the "new normal".

The details

Launch Center sells itself as a kind of "speed dial for everything" because it allows you to personalise complex, multi-button yet common actions (such as calling your wife or sending a text or automatically launching a Facebook messaging window) into a single-button process - OK, two buttons if you include opening Launch Center.

Of course, no one wants to be just a "user" anymore - we all want to be "power users" - and Launch Center stands ready to serve.

Not only can it let you speed dial your mum on her birthday, it can automatically remind you by, well, automatically speed-dialling her on her birthday.

You can also find websites devoted to maximising Launch Center single-button efficiencies, right down to finding the nearest Starbucks on a map - just think of all the time you can "save".

And no pressure, but your neighbours are probably already doing it.

Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Personal Finance at pf@thenational.ae.