Over the past few days, I've been testing a new app from App Cubby. The app, called Launch Center, uses the iOS 5 Notification Center as a launch tool for a limited number of actions. In other words, you bring up Notification Center and tap an item to go to a website, launch an app, or perform another action. App Cubby submitted the app to Apple a few days ago, but another developer (Neoos GmbH) hit the App Store first with a similar app named Quickpick. I took a look at both these Notification Center launcher tools to let you know which does the job better.
Both these apps do their magic by leveraging the way the iPhone handles some specially-crafted URLs. While Notification Center is designed to give you rapid access to the apps behind your alerts, these customized alerts use some of the same URL schemes deployed by Iconsettings and other tools to navigate rapidly through the iPhone's Settings app. It's important to understand that mechanism a bit, since it does limit the range of what these tools can do (although it's the only way they can work on a non-jailbroken phone, given Apple's restrictions on inter-application communication).
Updated: Although the Launch Center app works identically to Quickpick, David Barnard of App Cubby just notified me that the app was turned down. The note he received: "We noticed that your app included inappropriate use of Notification Center, which does not comply with the iOS Human Interface Guidelines."
This is another example of the inconsistency of the App Store approval process. Barnard notes that he'll wait until after the holidays to resubmit Launch Center.
Updated (12/20/2011): Apple just pulled Quickpick from the App Store as well, citing the issues with 'inappropriate use of Notification Center."
The first of these two apps that I tried was Launch Center (US$0.99). The app has been submitted to the App Store and was actually the subject of a NY Times story about developers rushing to get apps approved prior to the annual Christmas iTunes Connect shutdown. It's not in the App Store as of this morning, but the links included here should work once the app goes live. There will also be a page on the App Cubby site for more information.
Launching the app displays a nice wood background with three separate buttons that can be added to your Notification Center for quick access -- Flashlight (which turns on the iPhone flash for use as a flashlight), Tweet (opens a Twitter send dialog), and Google My Clipboard (takes whatever is on your clipboard and performs a Google search on it).