Over the last few weeks, an interesting trend has been emerging regarding shortcuts in iOS. As most of you probably know, Apple doesn’t technically allow shortcuts for things like Wifi, Bluetooth or quick access to iMessage with a particular person. However, developers have been utilizing some pretty clever techniques to get around this ban.
We first saw jailbreak-free iOS shortcuts in November with a web-app called IconSettings. This method worked by capitalizing on Safari’s ability to create bookmark icons on the home screen, and was actually able to get these bookmarks to serve as shortcuts to many different settings in the Settings application including Wifi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode and more.
Not surprisingly, however, Apple got wind of this and took steps towards putting a stop to it. In the newly released beta of iOS 5.1, this method of installing shortcuts no longer works. But there’s hope!
A new application that’s actually in the App StoreÂ lets you add makeshift shortcuts right in Notifications Center! App Switcher, which runs for $0.99, employs a very similar type of shortcut to IconSettings, only they appear as notifications in iOS 5′s pull-down bar instead of icons on the home screen.
The app is actually pretty ingenious. These shortcuts are recognized by iOS as notifications, which would lead one to believe that they’d disappear after you clicked on them, as regular notifications do. Luckily that’s not the case. Instead of quickly opening Safari and then switching to a specific part of the Settings app (as IconSettings did), App Switcher shortcuts open App Switcher for a moment before leading you off to your desired location. This is vital to the app’s functionality, because every time the App Switcher app is opened, it re-adds your shortcuts to Notifications Center as new, unread notifications.
App Switcher has another advantage over IconSettings in that it’s not just limited to iOS settings. You can program a shortcut to call, text, or iMessage someone in your Contacts list, go to a specific URL, or even launch an application!
Now as cool as this might be, it is still a workaround, so it’s far from perfect. First, if you don’t have the notifications settings right, your phone will go crazy with notifications every time you use a shortcut. You’ve gotta have the alert style set to none, and turn off the icon badge and sounds. And unfortunately, you can only have four shortcuts (IconSettings had over 40).
And, of course, there’s the simple fact that you have to wait for your shortcut to open App Switcher, then switch to whatever app you had intended to open which, depending on your device, could end up being a longcut.
So, this is definitely a cool app, but it pales in comparison to what shortcuts couldÂ be if Apple created true, native shortcuts (or at least allowed developers to do so). Even still, at $0.99, I think it’s worth it. Let’s hope Apple takes notice of the effort people are putting in to secure shortcuts on their iOS devices and finally starts creating some decent ones!
Also, if you are planning on grabbing this application, I’d do it sooner rather than later. There’s no way Apple will let this one last for long. Check it out at this link.