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Is it a good idea to have 2 launchers for one app in Android?

What I am talking about are 2 launcher icons in the applications list. Of course the labels for both will differ and the icons may or may not differ. One application launcher may be the main one, with the actual app name, leading new users to a dashboard or desktop, from where they can start to use your app. The other launcher may jump directly into the meat of the application, where actual data is presented, thus offering a shortcut for power users.

Please note that the Android framework fully supports this, it is just never done very often. The only native example I can think of is the Camera and Camcorder launchers, which both go to the 2 "faces" of the same app.

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Also the Google Maps app: Maps, Places, Latitude, and Navigation (a doozy!) –  Roman Nurik Dec 20 '10 at 1:55
    
Also note that you can allow users to enable/disable launcher icons since components can be programmatically enabled or disabled using PackageManager.setComponentEnabledSetting (for questions on that, ask on Stack Overflow) –  Roman Nurik Dec 20 '10 at 1:57
    
And the Contacts/Dialler application. –  Christopher Dec 20 '10 at 11:12
    
You're quite right, Roman and Christopher, I hadn't thought of those. Still, these examples could have very well been separate functionally-different apps (or have been in the past). In my example, the dashboard would be just that, it can't be an app on itself. Imagine a launcher leading to the Contacts, and another to the "New Contact" edit activity. Would a user appreciate having such a "New contact" launcher with the same rolodex icon, possibly overlaid with a "+" or something? The programmatic way is very interesting. –  pjv Dec 28 '10 at 22:43
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

If it's allowed and makes sense for your application then yes.

The other alternative is to present a start up screen which the user has to click through choosing the mode - which would get annoying very quickly. If you store the "normal" mode (i.e. which ever mode the user chose first) of the application you still need a way of switching to the "alternate" mode.

The camera and camcorder example is a good one where the same application has two functions each chosen (presumably) by command line argument (or it's equivalent).

If your two modes are that distinct, and would be used either by two different sorts of user or the same user under completely different conditions then I think the same model would apply. I would certainly have different (but related) icons - you want the user to know it's the same sort of application - and different labels would reinforce that.

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The camera and camcorder is indeed a good example. How about my other example where both are not homogeneous access routes (i.e. not equivalent; the Dashboard - ListActivity example)? The first launcher would have as label "Collection Manager", for instance, whereas the second would have "Collections in Collection Manager". Also, what are your ideas on different icons, different labels (under the constraint that the launcher only displays the first 10 characters or so), and the user not getting lost? –  pjv Dec 19 '10 at 18:11
    
@pjv - I've elaborated a bit more/ –  ChrisF Dec 19 '10 at 18:29
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