While your app loads, Apple allows you to add a launch image so the user is not starring at a black screen. Here are a few traditional launch images from popular apps (just open the app, and these will appear for a second or two):
Dropbox Launch Image
LinkedIn Launch Image
Yelp Launch Image
The Clever New Trend
Today, as I was looking for sample launch images for my app, I found that apps like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Pinterest are instead using the app outline as their launch app, giving me and all their users the illusion that their app is already launched and is just getting the data. It just feels so fast!
Check it out!
Pinterest Launch Image
Twitter Launch Image
Facebook Launch Image
Foursquare Launch Image
The brilliant lesson here is that when you can’t control things (such as how long the app will take to launch), create the illusion that you’re in control and your app is working seamlessly.
A few people on Twitter (thanks Gabe Kangas and Vladimir!) pointed out that creating a launch image that is an outline of your app is actually recommended by Apple in their Human Interface Guidelines.
Remember, the launch image doesn’t provide you with an opportunity for artistic expression. It’s solely intended to enhance the user’s perception of your app as quick to launch and immediately ready for use.