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.

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.

How Apple Saved My Life ›

If you do only one thing on the internet today, please watch this video by James Rath. In a world where so often technology can make us feel disconnected and absent from those around us, it’s important to see things from the other end something. In the case of James Rath it’s incredible to see how much technology has influenced his life in such a positive way.

UK Developing Digital Driving License Stored in Apple Wallet App ›

This morning the CEO of the UK Driving License Authority posted a prototype on Twitter of a digital version of the UK driving license in Apple Wallet. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that this would be on their radar, but it’s certainly something I could get on board with. I really don’t like carrying my wallet around with me and Apple Pay is one of the big factors driving my desire to upgrade my iPhone (the fact it seems to be dying is the other) and having my driving license in the wallet would a great step to being able to leave my wallet at home.

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.

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

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.

NeuBible. A Bible app designed for you ›

This post is a bit of a rarity, it’s the first link post I’ve posted since the reboot of this blog and I think it’s a fitting one.

I’m a big fan of my bible being a paper one, it’s great to be cut off and focused from the world while I’m reading it. I do however, like the utility of having the Bible on my phone and this new app called NeuBible looks absolutely stunning. It doesn’t yet include my preferred translation (ESV for those interested) but I will be certainly giving it a try. If you’ve never read the bible, this seems like a beautiful place to start.

Here To Work ›

The iPhone, however, prefers not to play by these rules. Though exquisite in design, it was not born as art to be put on display. It belongs in our pockets. It is a tool. A utility. A gadget of gadgets.

The iPhone is here to work.

I often get asked why I don’t have a case or cover for my iPhone 4. It has a few dings in it from a time I went through a spell of dropping it, but I don’t mind this. People point out a case would’ve stopped this, but I always point out it wasn’t designed to go in a case it was designed to be used as it is. They usually smile, maybe even chuckle, because they know my respect for the design is more important than whether I have a little ding in the glass on the bottom right corner of my phone.

The iPhone 5 on Daring Fireball ›

iPhone 5 in my hand, this talk of micron-precision, fine watch craftsmanship, and the computerized selection of best-match inlays sounds not the least bit bullshitty or blustery. It simply sounds like an explanation of the level of obsession that it takes to create a mass-produced device that feels this, well, nice.

Of course it’s a disappointment the iPhone 5. Sure sounds like one.

A Week With iOS Six ›

Of all the announcements Apple made at WWDC last week, iOS 6 is the one which excites me the most. Well, to be more accurate, Siri excites me the most. Chuck Skoda gives an interesting view of one week with iOS 6, further enticing me to upgrade (if I can) when the new iPhone arrives.

Some Thoughts on the Jawbone Era by Benjamin Brooks ›

For a device that many states require a driver to use, if they want to talk on the phone while driving, it is pretty amazing how crappy most of the bluetooth headset offerings are.

I’ve had similar experiences with Bluetooth headsets as Ben does in his review. Currently I have a Jabra and it doesn’t fit my ear whilst suffering the same interference problems as the Jawbone Era.

iOS 4.3 Software Update ›

Along with iPad 2, Apple announced iOS 4.3 with be coming to an iDevice near you on Friday March 11th.

More free cool software is always a bonus and so I thought the biggest feature in iOS 4.3 for me would be iTunes home sharing. I got extremely excited on hearing it would be arriving on my iPhone 4. Why? Well this is how the iTunes page describes home sharing.

Browse iTunes libraries on up to five authorised computers on your home network and import whatever you like. You can also automatically import new purchases made on any of the computers.

I make use of this feature a lot with my iMac and MacBook Pro. Any purchases I make on my MacBook Pro are instantly copied over to my iMac and consequently backed up. It’s an excellent feature and brings a lot of peace of mind that my iTunes purchases are backed up. In typical Apple fashion I don’t have to think about it.

So when Engadget informed me that iOS 4.3 was to bring home sharing to my iPhone I jumped for joy((Well lifted my arm up and said yes!)). The prospect of being able to wirelessly transfer my iTunes purchases from my iPhone to my other Macs without having to remember to plug it in is just what the doctor ordered. I envisaged a moment where I wouldn’t be caught out by forgetting to sync to get my latest Podcasts. That is, until the iOS 4.3 page shattered my dreams.

Now you can play your entire iTunes library from anywhere in the house. If it’s on your Mac or PC, you can play it on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch over a shared Wi-Fi network.3 And not just music. Watch a film or TV programme. Play a podcast. Or listen to an audiobook. On whichever device you want — without having to download or sync.

It seems I’ll only be able to stream from my Macs and not have my Podcasts automatically transfer to my iPhone once downloaded. This makes me sad.

Aside from my disappointment in home sharing, I’m still looking forward to AirPlay becoming what I always hoped it would be and Personal Hotspot arriving for everyone.