A Home Screen Update

I used to post a monthly series that looked at the Home Screens of my iPhone and iPad. Over time though I realised it didn’t change as much as I expected and so I lost interest in the process. Things have changed a lot recently so I thought it was time to post another look at my iPhone.

A few of weeks ago I put in to the practise the ideas in a post I linked to about setting up an iPhone home screen. I dropped all my apps into one folder and popped it in the dock. Then I pulled Tweetbot, Messages and Mail out alongside it in to the dock. My intention was to try and use my iPhone less, and when I do use it, to use it productively for communicating with my friends and family.

A couple of weeks later I found myself with five apps sitting on a second page of my home screen. I kept the first screen blank because I wanted to keep as close to the idea as possible, but I wanted these apps available without having to search for them. They all fell into one category. Entertainment, or more specifically video services (iPlayer, YouTube, etc) to stream content to my Chomecast or Apple TV.

I’ve now made another change and introduced 8 apps which I use so regularly it’s worth bringing them back to the my home screen to make accessing them more convenient. My iPhone still feels much calmer and focused than it did, but it’s not quite as a peaceful as a blank home screen used to be.

You can see the difference, I’ve gone from three screens with lots of app and folders on each, to two screens each with a clear use case.

The Dock

I’ve made a change to the three apps that sit in my dock. Tweetbot remains, although I actually do all my posting to the service through this site, I still interact on the service a lot and find some great content to save and read.

Messages is fairly self explanatory, thankfully most of my friends and both my parents are iPhone users so I do a lot of communication through iMessage. It’s been a mainstay of my iPhone dock since the day I got my iPhone 3G years ago.

The third app is Things. I’ve used a lot of to do apps over the years, for a long time I was a Things user, but it’s lack of OTA sync was a deal breaker and I moved to OmniFocus for many years. In the last year I’ve returned to Things via a stint with Todoist. In fact I was very happy with Todoist until the launch of Things 3. It’s just a pleasure to use and over the last few weeks I’ve found myself using it a lot more than I realised. Mostly to add things to my Inbox, but also when out shopping and running errands.

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Another fairly self‐explanatory one, I wear a Fitbit pretty much everyday and it’s companion app keeps things in sync and helps me to keep an eye on how well I sleep and how much I’m moving. One day I hope to replace this with the Health app and an Apple Watch, but that’s a ways off yet.

Being wise with my money is something I am trying to be better at. I’m on a tight budget so making sure I’m saving and keeping money for various bills etc is really important. Since I started using YNAB I’ve found it to be really helpful and need it to check and add transactions too while I’m out and about. It’s the first budget app that’s stuck for me since Cha‐Ching many years ago.

Overcast & Apple Music
I listen to quite a few podcasts on varioius different subjects both while out and about and at home. When I moved some apps back to my home screen it made a lot of sense to include it in the eight. Apple Music follows similar logic, I like listening to music both out and about as well as at home. Usually it starts from my iPhone whether listening on headphones or over AirPlay to my living room speakers.

My photo sharing app of choice. Interestingly as I type this I’m considering moving it back in to the apps folder and replacing it with something else. It still sucks me in when I’m just futzing about with no real intention which is what I’m trying to stop myself doing.

Micro.blog is a fairly new service, I backed the kickstarter and have been using it since the launch of the beta. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself using it more and more, to the extent that I’m considering whether it’s worth replacing Tweetbot with it in my dock. I don’t think it’s got quite enough activity on it for that just yet, but maybe in the near future as more people are able to join the service.

Again self explanatory, I search the web a lot. Far more than I realised and despite using Spotlight to start most searches it became more annoying than just opening the app and starting a search.

It’s email, I get too much of it, I need to be able to at least keep an eye on it for communication. I don’t want to be sucked in to it too much so it doesn’t live in my dock anymore.

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This second page is purely for the apps I use regularly to watch content on my TV. In the case of these apps my iPhone becomes my TV remote. Triggering a cast from here turns my TV on and gets me straight in to the show or sporting event I want to watch. These apps are useful to be available without having to search, and keeping them on a focused second screen means they stay out of way for my general use during the day.
BBC iPlayer
– Now TV
– Netflix
– YouTube
BT Sport

Overall this has been a really interesting exercise that has helped me to really focus and consider how I use my iPhone. I hope to continue with it like this for a while. There’s just one thing I wish I could do, especially as I have small hands, and that is to be able to pin those eight apps to the two rows above the dock rather than at the top of the screen.

My Homescreen: May 2015

With this week completely focused on finishing phase one of a client project, I completely missed that it was the 1st of the month yesterday. So now that the working week is over and I’m sat back relaxing it’s time to sort out this month’s edition of my homescreens. I’ll tackle both iPhone and iPad at the same time, since the changes to both are identical and for the same reason.


iPhone May 2015


The Rest


iPad My 2015


The Rest

What’s New?

  • OmniFocus – Since the start of the year I’ve been using Things to manage my tasks, in the last month I’ve ended up switching back to OmniFocus. Partly because one of the porjects I’m working on has needed breaking down further than Things can cope with, and partly because of OmniFocus MailDrop.
  • Outlook, Gmail, Inbox by Gmail and Mailbox – Recently I’ve been having some issues with the provider of my email, lots of servers down and unreliable delivery. As a self‐employed person I need to be able to rely on my email never failing, and so my work email has now switched to Google Apps. I’m still deciding on my personal email setup.

One of the advantages of moving to Google Apps for Work has allowed me to test out a few email apps I couldn’t use previously, and also to combine my email with IFTTT so that it works harder for me. Part of that IFTTT integration has been to combine the Gmail channel with the email channel and my OmniFocus MailDrop address. I’m still refining things and trying to decide which apps to use, but I hope to be able to explain further how I’m making my email work for me rather than having to work to keep on top of it.

My Homescreen: April 2015

Most of the interest has been on my iPad this month since there are a few additions there and only one change on my iPhone.


April 15 iPhone


The Rest


Scanbot – I’ve recently begun using my iPhone to scan my shopping receipts and consequently Scanbot has found itself promoted to my homescreen in place of the no longer needed Rightmove app from last month.


April 15 iPad


The Rest


Tweetbot – Despite the fact that it’s still not been updated to the iOS7/8 aesthetic, it’s ability to sync with my Mac and iPhone has forced me to bring it back to my iPad. I simply have too any hashtags muted in Tweetbot on my iPhone that not having it on my iPad was driving me nuts.

Adobe Comp – Adobe have been busy lately and have updated and introduced a new app. Leading the way is this new one, which seems to finally bring the kind of functionality to the iPad that I’ve been looking for. Since Adobe updated InDesign CC a couple of months back to introduce Creative Cloud Libraries I’ve begun use the extensively and I expect this new apps role in my design process to grow as a result of that.

Adobe Color – I’ve had this on my phone for a while, but a recent project had me sitting back in my chair with a cup of tea creating some possible colour schemes on my iPad. Again it’s integration with the other Creative Cloud apps is the killer feature.

CreativeCloud – Since I started my Creative Cloud license I’ve been making use of the 20GB of space I paid for to house my projects. The iOS app was always lacking though, but a recent update has improved it and joy of joys, I can now view multipage documents in the app.

When Creative Cloud was announced I was annoyed, I liked owning my software, especially when my livelihood is dependant on it, but I’ve been really impressed with the recent updates. Adobe have really stepped up their game in this regard and there’s no greater proof of that than the growing use of their apps beyond the Mac in my design process.

My Homescreen: March 2015

The first of March presents a few changes to my homescreens over the last month, but the overall majority seems to have remained the same.


March 2015


The Rest


Overcast – Having said at the start of last month that I was happy with Instacast, I’ve gone through a bit of a podcast splurge. I’ve found myself listening to more podcasts while I work and while going for a walk, consequently I found myself wanting a means of listening to them from my Mac and Overcasts web player has provided that. I’ve also realised I prefer the icon over Instacast.

HSBC – This app has been on my phone for a while, but a recent update has made it more capable and it is steadily becoming my primary means of personal banking, hence it’s new spot on my iPhone.

Rightmove – This one will only be here for the next month at the most, looking for a new flat to rent has meant the app has received a lot of use and it warranted a spot here because of it.


iPad March 2015


The Rest


My Homescreen

I can’t remember why, but a while ago I began taking a screenshot of my iPhone and iPad homescreens on the first of the month. I always find it interesting seeing what apps people have on their devices and so I’ve decided to begin sharing my homescreen on the first of each month. If nothing else, it will be an interesting way of monitoring how I use my devices and how the apps I use change over time (if at all).

This first post will be a bit more detailed than the ones which will appear over the next few months. I want to give a brief outline of how and why I use the apps, and so in the future only new apps will receive this commentary.


First thing to note is that my iPhone is currently a 16GB iPhone 5c in white. It’s the first ‘tall screened’ iPhone I’ve owned, the second plastic one (I had a 3G) and the first non‐black one I’ve owned. Even going back to my iPhone 4 days I’ve always kept the bottom row of my homescreen empty, I find it makes swiping between the screens easier as well giving some space to the icons.


In The Dock

I must be one of the few people who actually uses my iPhone as a phone, hence the inclusion of the phone and messages apps. The messages app is probably my most used app on the phone, especially as my friends have gradually got iPhones and begun using iMessage.

Safari takes up the second spot in my dock. Along with the phone and messages apps, it’s one of my most used apps. When I got my first iPhone, the ability to have the internet in my pocket and easily accessible was the most exciting thing about the device and it still is.

Tweetbot is my Twitter client of choice. I’ve been on Twitter since January 2007, and have used it extensively ever since. When I got my first iPhone (the previously mentioned 3G) a twitter app was the first 3rd party app I installed (I believe it was Twitterrific) and to this day remains on my most used services on my iPhone. I’ve flitted between a number of different clients over the years, but when Tweetbot came out I settled on it very quickly, it just fit with the way I used Twitter. Tweetbot 3 is, as far as I’m concerned, the best version of the app both in utility and style.

The Rest

My most used apps are towards the bottom of the screen so it seems prudent to start with those.

Things – When Things first came out I was a big fan, a few years ago I switched to OmniFocus for it’s cloud sync, in the last month I’ve made the switch back to Things. I find the app works the way I think, and whilst OmniFocus can be set up to behave like Things it seems silly to use it in such a way. The Today view is where I live on my iPhone and with the latest update most of my interaction with the app takes place through notification centre. The ability to control exactly what tasks appear there and not rely on forcing the app to show what I want when I want allows me to prioritise my days in a way that is manageable and realistic. Whilst the integration with Siri is great for getting random tasks into the inbox no matter where I am.

Day One – This is another app that I’ve used sporadically since I bought it. Back in August 2014 I began using the app to record 3 things I was thankful for from that day, I still try to do it, but over the last month I’ve begun to use the app as a more in‐depth journal as well. My iPhone is the most convenient way of using My Day One and the lowest barrier of entry, whilst I only use it once a day, it’s prominence on the bottom row helps keep it at the forefront of my mind and ensures I use it consistently.

BBC Sport – I use this app multiple times a day. It’s there because it’s the easiest way of keeping up with the multiple different sports I follow and provides push notifications for my football team Nottingham Forest.

Pinner – Most of my use of Pinner takes place through the share sheet extension, but I’m finding that the more bookmarks I add to it, the more I use the app itself as a point of reference. It’s the only Pinboard app I’ve used as I arrived at Pinboard around the launch of iOS 8. It’s a great app and I can completely understand why The Sweet Setup recently made it their Pinboard app of choice.

Instapaper, Reeder and Medium – Over the last month I’ve found myself using my iPhone to read on more and more. These three apps are at the forefront of that. I’ve used Instapaper for a long, long time and it was one of the first apps I bought when I joined the iPhone ranks. It’s one of the first apps I recommend to new iPhone users, originally I didn’t think much to the highlights feature, but it is now my favourite thing about the service. Reeder, along with Tweetbot, is how most of the articles in my Instapaper get added. I use it alongside my Fever installation and it is a pleasure to use to quickly get through a bunch of articles and filter off the ones I want to read. Medium is a fairly new addition, I don’t use the app as often as I could but it does provide me a good way to discover new writers and content.

Mail – I try not to check my email from my iPhone but as a self‐employed designer it’s very useful to have. I’m still annoyed by it’s lack of a share sheet, and I’m intrigued by Mailbox, so it may well get replaced soon.

Goodreads – I read a lot, in fact in the last month I’ve read an awful lot. I use Goodreads to track my reading, to find new books and authors based on the books I’ve already read.

Sleep Cycle – I use Sleep Cycle for my alarm and have done consistently since the middle of last year. It fascinates me to see my sleep graphs and in general it wakes me up at the right time so I don’t feel groggy and fall back to sleep again.

Instacast – I don’t listen to many podcasts but when I first started to listen to the few that I do, Instacast had just come out. I’ve stuck with it ever since, although I will admit to being impressed by Overcast, I don’t feel I listen to podcasts often enough to warrant spending more money on it.

Spotify – I recently switched from Rdio to Spotify for my music streaming needs. I prefer the design of Rdio, but it became unreliable on my Mac which forced the change. The recent redesigns of the Spotify apps has made the change more bearable and it’s radio stations are second to none.

Camera & Photos – I use the default camera app, although it’s mostly accessed through the lockscreen. I don’t filter my photos often, most of the snaps I take are just that, snaps. The iOS 8 extensions are great and I do find myself using them more, I just wish that VSCO Cam would add an extension to their app.

Maps – I’ve never really had a problem with Apple’s maps. I like the integration with Siri and so it remains on my homescreen for ease of access when out and about.

Fantastical – For a long time I used the built in calendar app, but with the arrival of iOS 8 I made the switch to Fantastical. I like it’s notification centre extension and it’s a lot easier to input events that I don’t understand why I didn’t switch sooner.


I have a positively ancient 16GB black iPad 2 which I got the day after it was released. I’ve used it a lot in that time, mostly for consumption, but in the last month that has begun to change and I’ve had to use it for work a lot more.

There are a lot of apps that appear on my iPhone, so I won’t go into detail with those, just the ones that are unique to my iPad.


Twitterrific – I only really use Twitterrific on my iPad because they haven’t updated Tweetbot for iPad yet, as soon as they do it will be replaced.

SimCity – I’ve slowly become quite addicted to this game since Christmas. I resisted downloading it for along time, but eventually caved and now find myself dipping into it regularly.

Numbers – I’ve begun using my iPad to do some of my business admin. It helps me to stay focused on the task at hand and I use Numbers to keep my finances spreadsheet up to date. Thanks to iCloud it remains in sync with my Mac.

Billings Pro – This is a recent addition to my iPad. For a long time I’ve used Billings on my Mac, but with the upgrade to Yosemite it began to crash and freeze up regularly. Just before Christmas I began looking around for an alternative and Billings Pro seems to be winning, if only for it’s familiarity and the fact I know it does exactly what I need it to. The iPad app is an added bonus that allows me to do some of the less interesting parts of being a self‐employed designer (like quotes and invoicing) in a more relaxed environment where I know I won’t be distracted.