I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

Things 3.4 Brings Powerful New Automation Features and App Integrations ›

I’ve been using Things since version 3 came out and found it to be the best task app around, with one exception, the ability to automate task creation was a bit limited. This new version fixes that, and goes a lot further than I thought I needed.

MacStories have a great article that highlights some of the possibilities using the new, and very comprehensive, URL scheme found in Things 3.4. I’ve already spent some time this evening updating a couple of Workflows that I use to create tasks, looking forward to seeing what else I can do thanks to this update.

Adobe’s iOS App Failure ›

Over on Six Colors Jason Snell speaks of his disappointment with Adobe’s iOS offering. I’ve long been disappointed with Adobe’s approach to the platform and I couldn’t agree more with his comments.

But it’s frustrating that Adobe has failed its core design customers to such a degree—and it’s also a big risk for Adobe. Photoshop commands a lot of space in the brains of many creative professionals, but a lot of those people want to use iOS. If Adobe provided them with fulfilling tools for iOS—ones that are as capable as what’s available on macOS and Windows—it could keep its customers loyal.

As a designer the iPad has always appealed to me as a means of creating. It seems like it should be the most intuitive way of laying up designs and drawing out ideas. The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil only served to enhance this idea for me. Yet Adobe continually fail to acknowledge that we could do serious work in an iPad. They keep serving up “mobile” apps instead of actually considering how an app like InDesign or Illustrator could function.

It took Microsoft years to bring Office to iOS, and in that time apps arrived to fill the gap they had left causing Office to lose mindshare. That’s now starting to happen to the Creative Cloud apps, Affinity Photo is excellent, and more than capable of growing in to the gap left by a lack of a fully fledged Photoshop. My hope is that other apps will rise up to fill the gaps left by a lack of full versions of Illustrator and InDesign or that Adobe gets its finger out and creates them.

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.

Page 1

Fitbit
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.

YNAB
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.

Instagram
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
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.

Safari
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.

Mail
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.

Page 2

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.

Beautility, My Ultimate iPhone Setup ›

Forgive me for linking to a piece on Medium, especially one that requires you to log in to read. But this interesting approach to using an iPhone compelled me to do so.

I’ve been feeling a bit of “app fatigue” when it comes to my iPhone lately. So many things on it feel like a bit of a time suck, a way to easily get lost in a world of social media and news. On reflection, maybe I’ve started to fall into too much habitual checking of apps and not letting my mind wander with down time. It could be an interesting experiment to try and see what effect this kind of setup might have on my iPhone use.

Big Screens, Even Bigger Lessons & Learning to Make Tough Calls ›

This is a really insightful look into the process behind making an iPad app from an established iPhone app. As a designer I have some knowledge of designing for different screen sizes, but the behaviour of an app is very different to the behaviour of a website, albeit with some similarities. Before I begin any future web design projects I’ll definitely be giving this piece another read or two.

This morning I gave something a try for the first time. I left my MacBook Pro at home and took my iPad and Bluetooth keyboard out to do a bit of work. Since the release of iOS 9 last September I’ve heard many people talking about it has enabled them to use their iPad to do a lot of work. Being a designer I just pushed them aside, no software is able to produce artwork to the that the Creative Cloud apps can on my Mac, and so I just marked it as not yet for me. I have noticed recently that I’ve been naturally reaching for my iPad to do certain bits of work, largely emails and admin. I decided it was time to give it a try. Interestingly I’ve really enjoyed it and I think with a little thinking through, I could switch some of my web site maintenance tasks to the iPad.

App Store 2.0 ›

News broke last night of some changes to the App Store. Chief among them was the availability of subscription pricing to all types of apps. Many people seem to see it as a positive for developers, and I agree to some extent, but it all depends how those subscriptions will be used.

This quote from The Verge’s coverage of the news is exactly what I’m concerned about.

Tsiddon says his company makes around $10 million a year from its premium apps, which are sold for a one-time purchase fee of $3.99 or $4.99. Lightricks has sold 8 million app downloads to date. Tsiddon hasn’t fully committed to a subscription model yet, only saying that he’s “excited to experiment with the business model,” but based on back-of-the-envelope math he believes if his company saw 4 million downloads while charging a $4 monthly subscription fee, he could make 10 times his current annual revenue.

If developers start to shift to pricing like this, I and many others, will stop using their apps. I simply can not afford, and even if I could I would not be able to justify, paying $4 a month to use an app. Especially when it’s multiplied by the 12 independent apps on my iPhone homescreen. That’s not sustainable.

The Sweet Setups Best Bible App ›

The Sweet Setup has spent some time looking for the best bible app on iOS. I’ve had a hot and cold relationship with bible apps, sometimes I find time incredibly useful, other times they seem cold and disconnecting. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve tried s number of the apps on this list and couldn’t agree more with the conclusion, in fact the two apps that I have installed on my iPhone and iPad are the top two from this article.

Ulysses 2.5 for iPad and, Now, iPhone Review ›

A glowing review which I couldn’t agree with more. Ever since I downloaded it for my iPad I’ve been using the app, now it’s on my iPhone as well everything I write for this site goes through the app. Paired with the Mac app, it’s great for writing sermons in as well.

Ulysses Mobile ›

I started using Ulysses on my iPad just before Christmas. Just after Christmas I started using it on my Mac because I liked it so much. Now I can use it on my iPhone thanks to today’s new release.

An extensive particle from Viticci of MacStories about working on the iPad. I can speak from experience as well. I upgraded my iPad 2 to an iPad Air 2 in November last year and its becoming my go to device for any computing other than the design work I need to use my Mac for.

I’m Done with MacBooks ›

When I read this post from Khoi Vinh I found myself nodding along in agreement. This part in particular struck a chord,

When I think about where I’m most productive with OS X, it’s always at my desk, where I have a huge monitor (on my iMac, at home) or even two Cinema Displays (at work)

I upgraded my Mac nearly a year ago and had a long debate about whether to get an iMac or a MacBook Pro. The iMac was appealing for so many reasons, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to give up the flexibility my MacBook offers. However there’s no denying that I’m most productive at my desk with a larger screen, and since upgrading my iPad 2 to an iPad Air 2 I’m using that for more work leaving me more focused when I’m on my Mac as well.

In the future I can certainly see myself moving to an iMac over the MacBook Pro and maybe, if budget affords it, and iPad Pro. Especially as it’s capabilities grow and allow for more and more work to be accomplished on it.

Introducing Day One 2 ›

I’ve been a Day One user over the last few years, having spells of using it more than others.the release of Day One 2 brings a slew of new features and a visual overhaul, I’ve already picked up the iOS version, but I’m debating the need to pick up the Mac one.

Why iOS is Compelling ›

Interesting comments from Ben Brooks on Why iOS is compelling. Since iOS 9 the iPad has become so capable I now do all my non-design work on it. It’s also the first computer I recommend to people when they ask me what’s worth considering these days. I think for most people it’s a case of conquering the fear of something being different that’s the biggest stumbling block.

Doing Real Design Work on an iPad ›

Khoi Vinh on using the iPad to do real design work. I agree with much of what he says, I’m imcreasingly using the iPad in my design work these days, but I do wish the Adobe apps were more capable and able to produce more fully finished files that I would be comfortable proofing to a client.

Using iPad Pro as a Laptop Replacement ›

Really interesting post from Ben Brooks about using his new iPad Pro as a laptop replacement. what struck me most was this quote

You can’t break iOS.

I leave that on its own line because you really need to think about that for a moment.

You can’t break iOS.

it’s the reason I constantly recommend people get iPad’s and ihadn’t  even realised it.

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

iPhone May 2015

Dock

The Rest

iPad

iPad My 2015

Dock

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.