Two quick-launchers for Palm apps

A hands-on look at two app-launchers for Palm that get right to the point--loading your app in seconds.

Initiate's functionality is packed into the strip of buttons. (Credit: Hobbyist Software)

Having something come to you is always better than having to go to it. Like Launchy for Windows and Quicksilver for Mac, Duh Button Launcher Plus and Initiate save you time by getting your apps open fast. OK, it's not like the Palm OS app launcher is an irrevocable time suck, but these apps just make the process smoother.

Duh Button Launcher Plus

Let's start with Duh Button Launcher Plus, because it's the free one. With just a little bit of work, you can map a list of your favorite apps to pop up with the press of one of four hard keys. According to the publisher, the Date book, Contacts, Tasks, and Notepad buttons are the only ones that are meant to be affected, though I found that the mapping varies by handset model. I had to disable the first and fourth hard key-mapping on the Treo 650, which corresponded to the Phone and Power buttons.

Regardless, mapping the apps from my phone memory and SD card (and desk accessories, if you've got 'em) to two hard keys worked well, and I liked that holding the key down scrolls through the list of apps--quickly!

Duh Button Launcher Plus lets you map favorite apps to hard keys. (Credit:

Though a quite decent launching shortcut, Duh Button Launcher Plus isn't a good choice if you want to keep original hard key functionality, and it's nothing less than puny in comparison with Initiate, the Swiss Army knife of app launchers. (Just remember, not everyone needs a Swiss Army knife.)

Initiate Pro

Initiate Pro reprograms the Home key with a pretty interface and a heap of functions. There's a short learning curve to find your way among the various buttons and views, but when you do, you'll be able to quickly launch apps, MP3s, memos, and bookmarks, and start e-mails and texts with a combination of typing, tapping, and even voice commands. For instance, one view sets you up to type the first few letters or even just consonants of an app to launch it. Another shows you just your music files or photos, and yet another shows all your device data, including what's on the SD card.

I like the ease of dragging and dropping apps from any view into the favorites category to further streamline launching. You can also drag items to and from the SD card, and to a button that lets you e-mail, beam it, or send it via Bluetooth. Initiate's extensive preferences include customizing trigger keys and hard keys, and downloading backgrounds and skins.

If there's a catch, it's that convenience isn't always free. The pro version costs $24.95 while the much more stripped-down Initiate Standard sets you back only $9.95.

Get: Duh Button Launcher Plus
Try: Initiate

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.