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iPhone Home Screen: October 2015

There have been a lot of changes to my iOS home screen over the last year. I switched from my iPhone 6 back to my iPhone 5S after I discovered how much I hated the side power button and inconvenient size of the iPhone 6. A few weeks before the iPhone 6S was released, I decided to go back to the iPhone 6 and get used to the size and see if my opinions changed. The short story is that they hadn’t. The side power button, while understandably within easy reach of the thumb, more often than not also lowers or raises the volume on the other side of the phone. It is an aggravation but one I had resigned to live with as they wouldn’t be changing it any time soon.

The main reason I switched back was the anticipation of 3DTouch in iPhone apps. I could see there was some great potential there and I wasn’t disappointed in that regard. As it stands, just a few weeks after the release of the new iPhone, the majority of the apps on my home screen support 3DTouch actions and they really do enhance the functionality of the phone in some surprising ways.

Because I wasn’t sure if the larger phone size would “stick” I kept an empty sixth row of icons on the bottom of the screen. Doing so would facilitate an easy switch back to the 5S and it was my escape hatch back to my preferred size phone. I ended up liking the empty space down there and left it alone even though I have surely settled on the iPhone 6S. While the size still sucks, the speed of the 6S is impressive and the new features like 3DTouch and “Hey Siri” support get used enough to make it worthwhile.

Row One

Editorial is still my go-to long form text editor and main way to view my taskpaper task lists. I’m not even using the power Python workflows and still find it an incredible app in terms of functionality and polish.

Fantastical remains my favorite calendar app on iOS. With 3DTouch giving you quick access to creation of a new event, calendar search and a preview of your next meeting, it remains on the home screen and gets very heavy use throughout the day.

I still have a folder with less-used apps in it. These are generally apps that get swapped out for their rival counterparts (Weatherunderground and Storm or Twitterific and Tweetbot come to mind).

VSCOcam is still an amazing iOS photo app. For taking photos as well as having a ton of great processing features, it stands far above the other photo apps I have used. 3DTouch adds quick access to the camera and importing photos among other things.

Row Two

1Password is a vital piece of technology at this point. If you’re not using a password manager, frankly, you are nuts. 1Password is the best of the bunch.

Pinner is a great little Pinboard app. I love that it has share sheet integration so I can share links from any app. It took over the duties from Pushpin.

YNAB is something I’ve been using to track my finances for a couple of years now. Having quick access to it means I can easily enter each transaction right after it occurs. Keeping your accounts up to date is one of the hardest things to do with a finance app like this so having this at my fingertips helps in that regard.

Since the operation I have been using Apple’s Health app to track things like heart rate and blood pressure. It isn’t great but it served as a decent repository for that data and stayed backed up between phone switches.

Row Three

Notes is the second Apple app that has earned a spot on my home screen. I like the multimedia aspect of it and the sharing between the Notes app in El Capitan seals the deal. I use it for checklists and reminders.

Music is yet another Apple app on the home screen. I still am loving the service. It isn’t glitch-free but it is a perfectly capable app once you get used to it.

Awful is my window into the SomethingAwful forums which remains a hilarious way to pass the time. Better than Twitter at least…

Overcast is the best podcast app out there. While I love the features in Downcast, Overcast’s Smart Speed is an amazing feature.

Row Four

Rego is a great travel app. I use it to mark places that we have visited as well as create itineraries for places we plan on going. The Today widget also has a “Mark this spot” button which I use a lot for parking. I mentioned it in the Nerds on Draft show on navigation if you want to hear more specifics in how I use it.

PCalc has become a great home screen addition. I find myself using it quite a bit and, since the Apple Watch app is fairly capable, there are a lot of ways the app comes in handy.

Storm and the WUnderground app both vie for position depending on the weather. When the weather turns inclement, Storm is great for showing the fronts, the wind direction and speed, thunderstorm warning areas and such. WUnderground is great for day-to-day weather information. If you create an account, you can use it on both apps to remove ads.

Outlook for iOS is a surprisingly capable iOS app for handling your Office365 or Exchange email. I use it exclusively for work email because I prefer to keep everything separate and it is a highly polished email client.

Row Five

Phone – another Apple app!1 Since this is a phone, it makes sense to have the phone app handy and I do use it often enough to keep it around.

TapCellar is the best beer app for iOS. There is no better app for managing and grading beers on the Apple App Store. Go buy it.

Safari is such a capable browser for iOS so I never felt the need to use a third party version. I definitely wouldn’t use Google’s Chrome and now, with ad blocking apps (I chose 1Blocker), Safari has gotten even better.

Spark is a new addition, replacing Boxer for now. It doesn’t have some of the interesting features Boxer has (like customizable smart folders with mail counts on them) but it has some pretty cool interactions. I haven’t deleted Boxer yet. We will see how things go with Spark for a while.

Row Six


Home Row

Launch Center Pro fell off of my home screen in favor of an app called Launcher a while back but with the customizable 3DTouch feature, I now use it as a way to create tasks for my taskpaper files using Drafts. It. Is. So. Cool.

Messages gets constant use. Integration with the Apple Watch and the fact that everyone I know uses it really makes it an essential app.

Slack is the best group and collaborative messaging app available. It is great. So very great.

Drafts is generally where all of my text starts (except where previously mentioned). All of my new tasks start in Drafts and they get sent over to my taskpaper file in Dropbox via some not-very-tricky automation. Now that Drafts is getting launched via Launch Center Pro, it is even more of an essential part of how I do things on iOS.

3DTouch has been a great addition to iOS. It’s quick adoption has seen it land on my home screen in the majority of the apps that reside there. Fantastical, VSCOcam, Pinner, Notes, Music, Overcast, PCalc, Phone, Safari, Spark, Launch Center Pro, Messages and Drafts all support it already.

  1. This has to be a record. 

My iPhone Home Screen: August 2013 Edition

I haven’t done a Home Screen review since iOS7 launched because I knew things would be changing a lot in the coming months. While that’s certainly the case, there is also the consideration that some apps just wouldn’t work in iOS7 and some would look downright dated[1].

I’m not going to write specifically about iOS7 at this point but it has changed the landscape of my Home screen considerably. I’ve been trying out a lot of new apps; some stick and others move on pretty quickly. I’ve also found that I am using more stock Apple apps than before. It’s not just because they’re new and shiny. Their functionality has been significantly improved. I’m starting to think that they might end up hanging around for a while.

Row One

The Apple stock Phone app is finally settling down after a very difficult period in the early beta phase. The layout is cleaner but the functionality has changed little. I keep it on the Home screen so I can check for badges indicating missed calls but I initiate most calls from either the Contacts app or Alfred.

Mynd is a new addition, unseating Tempo (for now) as my daily organizer. As with Tempo, it mines your contacts, emails and calendar to build a daily view of what you have planned complete with driving directions and traffic warnings. I’ve been using it for about a week and it seems less ambitious than Tempo but it works well and I like the look of it. If it is able to make it through a few weeks of heavy use, it may see a longer review from me here.

I keep the stock Calendar app on the Home screen for the date display and to stay aware of pending meeting invites.

I still keep a folder on the Home screen with assorted useful apps (Droplr, Glassboard, Fantastical, Tempo and a few others that I like having a tap or two away). It’s always a handy place to stash things that are being temporarily supplanted by a new app.

Row Two

1Password is in a prime spot and I still use it constantly. The new version was recently on sale and I spent a few days proselytizing to friends who don’t see this sort of thing as essential. As news of the NSA and rampant hacking becomes more and more dire, having a storehouse of your uniquely created and encrypted passwords and identities locked away will be a good first step for the budding paranoid.

Wunderlist is a neat little shared list app that I use to share things like trip ideas with friends and shopping lists with my girlfriend. Nicely designed and incredibly useful.

Pinbook remains quite useful despite the growing list of incredibly competent and interesting apps that support Pinboard. Pinboard is one of those things that I wasn’t sure I needed until now, a year later, I find myself including it in the short list of nearly-indispensable services in daily use.

Downcast remains a solid podcast app and the recent release of the Mac version[2] of the app has only made it more useful.

Row Three

Twitterific remains the most attractive-to-use and functional Twitter app even though Twitter is getting decidedly less use as more of my attention is focused on ADN.

With text files remaining a key part of my daily workflow, having Nebulous Notes on both iPhone and iPad is essential. The hotkey creation and scripting on the iPad is great and the iPhone app remains a solid and stable text editor used mainly for finding files in my Dropbox repository and editing them when I’m away from my Mac.

Calca is a new addition. Being a big fan of Soulver for a few years, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Calca but it ends up being much more in sync with how I thought Soulver should work. In other words, it fits the niche of a markdown text editor/calculation engine that Soulver does. I have been using it a lot and the fact that I can open any text file in it and see calculations “just work” is fantastic. It’s an interesting and useful app.

Despite the fact that I have a problem with having to download and try every marginallly different or useful-looking weather app for iPhone, Check The Weather remains the best one available. The integration with’s API and the smart layout and design keep this app on my Home screen despite some truly innovative work done in this space.

Row Four

Riposte is the best ADN client. It has an apparent over-simplicity to it but, after a little use, you find it goes very deep. At this point, its interface mechanics are indelibly burned into my muscle memory; so much so that I try to swipe left to go “back” in more apps than just Riposte. I love this app.

Whisper for ADN is made by the same folks who made Riposte so the “swipe left” trick works here too. Again, this is a pin-perfect execution of the ADN private messaging API and I’m using it to chat with many of my friends on ADN. It even enticed a few non-ADN users over to the ADN side once they saw how well implemented an instant messaging app it was.

Awful App is a somethingawful forum reading app. It’s like Reddit except with better content and people.

VSCOcam is an incredible photography app for the iPhone. I love the functionality and aesthetic and they seem to be trying to do something unique and different with it. I am really happy with the photos I’ve been taking with it and the editing doesn’t seem like a chore. I’ve been using it as a go-to iPhone photo app for a few months and I’d recommend it to anyone at this point. They’ve created a curated gallery of VSCO user photos using their VSCOgrid system and some of the results are pretty stunning.

Row Five

Contacts remains mostly unchanged from previous iOS incarnations. I use it enough at this point to keep it on the front page. Buzz has lost its shine in iOS7 and many of its functions still aren’t working for me.

Mail is vastly improved in iOS7 so far. It has finally risen in functionality to the point where I can relegate Sparrow and other email apps that were taking its place for the last couple of years. Since I’m now a Fastmail user[3], I’m finding that having the freedom to use any mail client rather freeing and Fastmail has been an excellent alternative since moving away from Gmail.

OmniFocus remains stalwart, consistent and constantly-used as my task management app.

Safari, while undergoing quite a few changes on the move to iOS7, is still quite capable. There are few design choices I could live without (like the auto-hiding toolbar) but it seems fast and capable. I still get confused when people insist on using alternative browsers on their phone. To each their own, but it seems like it is complicating the most simple thing on their smartphone especially when their best-in-class mobile browser is so tightly integrated with the OS.

The Dock

Drafts still gets heavy use. Small notes, Fantastical parsing, parking directions, entering items into OmniFocus… the uses are endless and the app just keeps getting better and better.

Messages, given the state of IM today, could be better but is my current messaging app of choice. For the few friends who don’t have access to a Mac during the day or don’t want to type on their phone during busy IM exchanges, there’s always Whisper but overall, it is a great way to get your instant messaging done on the Mac and iOS devices. It’s not without its faults but they are likely outside the scope of this post.

Trillian is what I use for my friends who insist on using Gtalk. A necessary evil until they move over to iMessages or Whisper/ADN (which won’t happen any time soon, I am guessing).

Launch Center Pro provides a fast way to get to apps I use often. I have a lot of the apps and shortcuts that control the Mac Mini attached to my TV. When watching movies or shows with VLC, LCP is in constant use and makes things very quick and convenient.

Despite the many changes brought on by iOS7, overall the changes have been welcome. As more apps make their optimizations for the OS and as Apple continues to tweak and improve it over time, I’m feeling more and more like this is the OS that the iPhone 5 was meant to have and I’m looking forward to how things shape up over the next few months ahead of the inevitable launch of the new iPhone models in September.

  1. Yes, it sounds ridiculous to say that given that the OS hasn’t even launched yet but after you get used to the initial shock of iOS7’s “look”, it becomes apparent that this OS is going to be a huge step up. ↩

  2. Affiliate link. ↩

  3. Join using my referral link! ↩

My iPhone Home Screen: October 2012 Edition

A new phone. A new home screen. A new social network. There have been extensive changes to my home screen with the release of the iPhone 5 and’s rise as my favorite (soon to be “only”?) social network. Given the iPhone 5’s added screen real estate, I have an extra row of apps to cover so this might take a while to write as well as read so let’s not delay things any further.

Row One

1Password has long been a standard on all of my devices. Lately, with all of the hackings and whatnot, it has become one of the most essential. Rotating highly unique passwords is possible because of 1Password’s ability to generate them as needed and cut/paste them where needed.

If you don’t have 1Password, buy it. If you own it but you’re not using it, you’re just asking for it. I’ll just leave this here… you know who you are.

Calvetica remained on the Home screen for a while but I’m impatient for an expanded view for iPhone 5. Calendaring apps present situations that benefit greatly from increased screen real estate. Since Week Cal was one of the first to jump on the expanded screen, and I had it hidden on the back page, I just swapped the two and I’m pretty happy with it. I forgot how good this app was. Calvetica is on the back page for now and I’ll just swap them randomly, I guess…

Awful is still in heavy use to read the SomethingAwful forums. (I hate Reddit so much – it’s the cesspool of a comment section beneath every forum post in the world but in handy forum form.)

Utilities folder
In my Utilities folder, I keep a rotating cast of characters that need more-than-occasional access and aren’t accessible through Launch Center Pro (see below). Calendar, Clock, Calculator, Bing, Glassboard, GV Mobile+, Adian, Rivr all live in here. I keep moving ADN clients in and out of this folder but I’ll get to App.Net (ADN) in a second.

Row Two

Instacast is back in the mix. I love the other clients I’ve tried but Instacast is the best fit for how I listen to podcasts. Instacast developers moved quickly to fix the complaints that heavy users like me had after a major release that changed many really good features. After those features made their way back to the app, I returned as well. It’s a really good app nowadays.

Fitbit still gets my food and water consumption entered into it every day. It’s become habit and the changes in the recent version of the app made it marginally better. At least it didn’t make it worse, which is usually my fear after big changes.

Soulver, as Ben Brooks mentioned recently, is a really amazing product. I use it all the time for monthly expenses, working out financial planning for hiring and project management and helping my 12 year old with his algebra homework.

Settings is back on the Home screen, mainly because I use the new iOS 6 “Do Not Disturb” mode fairly often and I wanted it more accessible. If it could be toggled in Launch Center Pro or via the Notifications pull down, it’d be ideal but I’m not holding out hope.

Row Three

Felix is one of the ADN clients on my iPhone. I’m using quite a few right now, testing them out and putting them all through their paces. Felix is fantastic. The “feel” is just right, the look is aesthetically pleasing and usable and, as a 1.0, it was rock solid and stable. I was happily using Felix for about a week but then Netbot hit (yesterday) which turned things upsidedown for me. I continue to get push notifications through Felix and use it about half the time. If a few key changes get made (bookmark sync & gap expansion are the two I have in mind), it may be the client that stays on the front page.

Dark Sky remains the most magical app on my phone. Last Friday, I was working from home and Dark Sky sent me a push notification that rain was going to start in my area soon. I have a fairly long driveway (we moved to a really cool rented farmhouse last year) so I got up and went out to fetch the mail before I ran the risk of getting soaked. On the walk back to the house, sure enough, rain started to fall. Magic.

Harvest for my hours tracking. A necessary evil, I’m afraid.

Nebulous Notes has taken a huge leap in the last version. I use it across iPhone and iPad and it is the best Dropbox-integrated text editor out there. At least for me. It suits all of my needs pretty perfectly including, after some monkeying around, outlining meeting notes. It is an essential app if there ever was one.

Row Four

Netbot is a newcomer but it is a fantastic addition. Helping move ADN from a small, fringe upstart to something a bit more visible, Tapbots released a version of their streaming social network client for ADN and, while it is very similar in form and function to its flagship app, Tweetbot, what it means to people who have been on ADN for a while is significant. I have been buying, downloading and using all of the ADN clients I can get my hands on, not only to support the work of the developers but to see what new things can be done with the fledgling APIs and concepts.

Netbot uses ADN to replicate Twitter and that’s not such a bad thing. Twitter’s treatment of its longstanding users and developer community has been appalling. I can see, as the network expands, the apps changing to embrace some of its newer functions (annotations, privacy APIs) and grow with the features as they’re added. It’s a great start. As I’ve been singing the praises of Tweetbot for some time, I’m happy to see Tapbots on ADN too.

Google+ is still on the front page. I check it once a day but it’s a weird mix of Android fans, science news and beer links.

Safari gets a lot more use now that Cloudtabs exist.

Row Five

Drafts has had some fantastic updates since my last post about it (more to come too!). It is my go-to for short text files to keep information handy like parking spots, phone numbers entered on the fly, etc. It’s my digital scrap paper with the added ability to shoot these little snippets of text to all sorts of handy places.

OmniFocus is something I write fairly often about. It’s about as important as my iPhone at this point.

Sparrow is back! For me anyway. I was using for all of my accounts but I have quite a few and it got confusing. Breaking them out and serving my gmail accounts from a sad, deprecated, likely-no-longer-supported app seemed like the marginally right thing to do. Sad. Very sad.

Mail - Yuck. Although, VIPs are a nice feature, I’ll admit.

The Dock

Phone - Yes Dialvetica is gone, and has made room for the stock Phone app. I’m sad that Dialvetica no longer seems like it will be getting any support or new versions (last update in December 2011) but Phone gets the job done.

Messages seems to have been fixed from the perspective of iMessage sending things to all of the right devices. Messages on the Macbook Air now seems to work with the advent of Mountain Lion and having a cohesive messaging solution that does what it supposed to do is as surprising as it is handy.

Trillian has only gotten better and better. I use it constantly as I swap from the laptop to the phone, back to the laptop, and so on with each having the same messages completely in sync. It’s a staple for me and extremely stable and capable. Highly recommended.

Launch Center Pro keeps adding new Actions for apps and getting more and more useful. I haven’t updated my Actions screen for a while but here’s what it looks like for now. I’ll be changing this soon to integrate some of Nebulous Notes new features and make better use of the screen real estate.


So there it is. A whirlwind tour of the Home screen. I hope it helps and if you have any questions or comments, drop me line to @jeffhunsberger on or Twitter.

Which Apps I Use (and When)

One of the big focus areas for iOS developers lately is the creation of task and reminder apps. Being a heavy OmniFocus user, the thought of splitting my focus isn’t one that I look forward to. Sure, I like checking out new apps now and then, but putting tasks in the iOS Reminders app, OmniFocus and yet another app seems like I’ll end up missing something.

Enter Checkmark by builtbysnowman, a new app that helps you remember things you need to do, but focusing more on where you are doing things rather than just having good ways of managing your lists.

After buying the app, and testing it out briefly, it is clear the app is slick and has merit but it is causing me, yet again, to rethink my tool selection to find the best combination of tools for the jobs at hand.

I have the following apps on my phone being used for some very specific functions:

Task and List Management

  • OmniFocus - Main task/project repository. Useful for everything. Does location-awareness and integrates with Siri (sort of).
  • Checkmark - Location-based reminders only(?)
  • Due - Useful for pulling recurring, reminder-type tasks out of my Calendar (“take out trash”, etc)
  • Reminders - Stock Apple app. Useful but hardly idea. Just used to shuttle things from Siri to OmniFocus.
  • Ita - Gorgeous but never used.

Writing and Note Management

  • Drafts - Useful for quick, “reminder-like” notes.
  • Scratch - Another quick text entry tool, like Drafts. Testing it out.
  • Writing Kit - This is the best app for writing on the iPad. By far. Hands down.
  • Nebulous Notes - Still my favorite Dropbox text file editor.
  • Byword - I generally use the Mac version (writing in it right now)
  • Notesy - I want to like this but had stability issues. Waiting…
  • Elements - Some great parts, but rarely used.

How Do I Decide Which App To Use?

Having this many tools makes it critical for me to be targeted with how each app should be used. Like lots of people who post about this stuff, I feel like each tool is not quite up to the task. I keep downloading each new thing, expecting it to be the final piece of the puzzle only to find it is ever-so-slightly imperfect.

The current task-tracking tool breakdown, for today anyway, is to use OmniFocus for capturing tasks that are related to projects. If it is something related to a project or a person I have a context for, OmniFocus is also a natural choice.

For single tasks or tasks that are tied to a specific place, I’ve started using the fairly-amazing Checkmark. So far the app has been performing really well in all of my tests and the interface is slick as hell. As I’ve never really used the location-based reminders in OmniFocus, this is scratching the itch for ephemeral needs. I will continue to put it to work and expect I’ll follow up with some sort of tech note on this site at some point.

Checkmark also does time-based tasks, which I have started using as well. Previous to that, I was using a mix of OmniFocus or my calendar, both of which aren’t really the best tool for the job. Due was in the mix for a while, and it was well-suited to the task, but having things spread out over so many tools is disorienting and just doesn’t sit well with my somewhat-well-ordered-and-organized mind. I generally want the best tool for the job, but I want to use the least amount of tools possible. Adding more tools just adds more friction.

For recurring events, since Checkmark doesn’t have support for them, I continue to use Due. As mentioned above, Fantastical works for this but it always felt like pushing a boulder up a hill. I’ll still use Fantastical to set up things like birthdays and actual events, but recurring reminders are now much better served using Due.

The Apple Reminders app only really comes into play via OmniFocus, making use of the makeshift Siri integration. Using Siri, I can integrate iCloud and Siri’s insertion of tasks into OmniFocus, which has saved me a ton of time over the last few months.

When I need to write something down that isn’t task-related and anywhere between a few words to a sentence or two, the two apps I turn to are Drafts and Scratch. Given how easy it is to make nice Markdown changes in Scratch, I’ve been using that more. I’d say Scratch is still in a beta state for me. It’s an impressive app so far, however. If I could get Scratch’s “append to Dropbox file” to work in the iOS6 beta I’m sure I could find some interesting uses as well…

Writing Kit is an amazing iPad editor (in fact I’ve written this post using it). I feel dumb not having used it sooner and I can’t recommend it enough. I have the notes for an upcoming review/recommendation post to explain exactly what makes it so great but, in the meantime, just go buy it.

Nebulous Notes is still a staple for editing Markdown notes for work. It works well for a lot of things and does a decent job of avoiding Dropbox conflicts, although they still happen occasionally if I’m swapping back and forth between my Mac and iPad.


For me, keeping things as simple as possible in a very hectic work (and home) environment is paramount. Cluttering up my devices with a bunch of apps that are half-solutions doesn’t really help me much because adding any level of friction just means that I won’t record something or remember something or be reminded of something important. Friction can be anything from not being able to find an app you need when you need it to having to think for a half-second about what the best way to record something is.

Do I use Due or Checkmark to set a reminder? Do I use OmniFocus? Wait, is there a project for that? Does it make sense to put it in a particular context? Will I need to transfer this task to my main OmniFocus database at some point? Let’s look at how I make some of these calls…

I will generally follow the decision tree outlined below to determine which reminder app to use:

  1. Is it a simple recurring task? If yes, use Due. If no, go to 2.
  2. Is it a complicated recurring task? If yes, go to 4, if no, go to 3.
  3. Is this a simple, one-step task? If yes, use Checkmark If no, go to 4.
  4. Use OmniFocus.

How should I set a timer?

Due has timers, but Siri is so dead simple I prefer using it. I guess if I have to be sneaky and silent when I need to time something one day, I’ll use Due but how often does something like that come up? I’d guess nearly never. At least I have alternatives..?

I need to write something. How do I choose which tool to use?

  1. Is it really short? Like noting where I parked or someone’s phone number? Use Scratch or Drafts (Scratch is currently on the Home Page for this purpose).
  2. Is it a piece for the website? Use Byword on my Mac, or Writing Kit on my iPad. I don’t use my iPhone for writing posts.
  3. Is it longer than a few lines but not for the website? Then I almost always use nvALT on my Mac and Nebulous Notes on my iOS devices. Whatever it is gets synced to Dropbox.
  4. Is it really long? Use Scrivener or Byword (although I recently wrote a very long work document in nvALT – I didn’t know it would grow to the length it did and nvALT worked pretty damn well. It looked gorgeous with my output from Marked too.)*

So there you have it. My streamlined decision trees for which tool I use and when. I try to keep it as simple as possible but still use the best tool for the job. I consider myself lucky that there are so many great tools out there to make me more effective wherever I happen to be.

My iPhone Home Screen: June 2012 Edition

The last Home Screen post was back in February and there have been some pretty major changes to how I use my iPhone since then. With starting to use my Fitbit and Aria scale daily, as well as changing how I listen to podcasts, I’ve had to make some hard changes as to what is staying in easy reach and what gets moved to a nested folder or Launch Center or what gets buried in the back pages.

Row One

1Password remains on the Home screen and continues to get more and more important with each passing day. I’ve had a few friends see the light on this app recently and all of them sing its praises. If you don’t have this application yet, you’re putting yourself at risk. I also save a ton of time when having to enter address or credit card information.

What I wrote in my calendar apps post still holds true. Week Calendar is still the best of the bunch.

Awful remains a staple of my forum content consumption. Reading about Diablo3, tattoos or corgis on somethingawful’s forums is often insightful (or aggravating). This is a must-have if you’re a goon.

The standard iPhone Camera app is now gone from the Home screen and I have replaced it with the Utilities folder. As before, I have some critical apps in there that need to be quickly accessed but aren’t needed in just one click.

I started using Harvest to track my time and the app is pretty capable for that task. The app that runs on my Macbook Air runs at 5-8% of my CPU (according to “top -oCPU”) which is inexplicable. When I’m not in my office at work or home with my Macbook Air, plugged into a power source, I tend to shut down the Harvest OS X app and use the iPhone version to save laptop battery.

Instagram is in that folder too but since it was purchased by Facebook I’ve deleted my account. Instead, I created an alias which I basically use to lurk tattoo artist’s Instagram accounts since all of the best tattoo artists in the country show their latest work on there.

Google+ recently revamped their iPhone app. The functionality still isn’t quite there but it looks fantastic and hasn’t crashed nearly as much as the old version. It has a Flipbook vibe too it and I really like what they’ve done with the interface.

Soulver lives in this folder too and still gets a fair amount of use.

GV Mobile+ sits in this folder too, just so I have it around for easy access or so I can easily see a red badge if I have a message waiting.

Row Two

Instacast has been replaced by Downcast. You can read why here.

The Fitbit app lives on this row as well, which I use all day long to track what I eat and drink. I outlined that whole deal in this post.

Nebulous Notes is still the reigning mid- to long-form text editing champ for me (on iPad too). I still wish it had a full search capability so I could search entire directory contents but, for now, I can rely on crafty naming tricks and using a few other apps to do deep searches. It hasn’t been a big enough problem to start exploring other options just yet.

Like before, the standard Phone app is on the front page despite my heavy use of Dialvetica. It’s there for the same reasons noted last time – I need access to recent calls or to re-dial a disconnected conference call number and Dialvetica doesn’t provide that functionality. Having this app handy also helps me see if I have a missed call.

Row Three

Tweetbot has gotten a slew of new features since the last one of these posts. If this isn’t your favorite Twitter client, your brain is severely broken. Some might be turned off initally by the overhauled and completely custom look of the app, compared to other, more standard apps, but it is the attention to detail that makes this app sing after you use it for a while. I can’t see needing or using another Twitter client on iOS. I wish they’d create a Mac client so I can just go “all Tweetbot” and be done with it.

Rdio continues to be a great service. I use it to listen to music in the car or when I’m working. It’s a solid app and very stable. I still think this is well worth the $10 a month. Their music selection tends to be pretty great, especially for non-standard fare. They had the new Hot Water Music album Exister and OFF! EPs; they let me stream the new Torche album Harmonicraft and they had all of the Iron Chic albums when I went looking.

Drafts has entered the Home screen scene for me and quickly became an essential app. Lots of folks have been raving about this little piece of software on the internet so I won’t bore you with the same thing that’s been rattling around the echosphere. Suffice to say the first release was great and the developer just keeps improving it with each new version. I love this app.

Safari is still awesome and I use it a lot.

Row Four

Mail is a sad necessity.

Sparrow is fantastic. Love the interface. Love the app in general. My current workflow is to keep all of my work email in the standard Mail app since that tends to be high priority. The push capabilities of Exchange and make it pretty essential. I don’t know that Sparrow will ever be a great choice for corporate email. I do hook up all of my personal accounts on it now, however, and I love the experience of using Sparrow. Still, I qualify it as “good for handling personal email”. Early on, I kept thinking, “I can’t wait until Sparrow gets push notification” but I’m finding I don’t miss the fact that I have every email notifying me of its presence the second it arrives.

OmniFocus remains fantastic and essential on every platform.

The Quick Entry for Omnifocus icon has made a return to the Home screen. If you want to implement it, search around on the OmniFocus forums. It’s pretty easy to track down (or click the link). It is FAST. One tap launches OmniFocus and takes me directly to the Quick Entry screen. I toyed with using OmniFocus from Launch Center on the Home row, but it was still an extra click and, believe it or not, there are times when it matters.

Home Row

Dialvetica is a fast dialer app for iPhone. I can usually dial contacts in 3-4 taps and that includes turning on the phone, opening Dialvetica and hitting dial. An acquired taste, probably, but I use it daily. It’s a cool app.

Messages became a lot less stable with the release of the beta for OS X. I still have issues with its stability and features. I turned off all of the Messages accounts on my computers and deleted all evidence of the beta. After that, things quieted down and it has become usable but Apple’s entire messaging stack has become quite messy. I’m hoping Mountain Lion can straighten it out, but I don’t have high hopes.

Trillian was still an experiment when I wrote the last Home screen review in February. And now, months later, Trillian endures. It’s a stable, reliable chat application and the desktop sync now has me spoiled for any other chat client. Highly recommended. I wish they had a native iPad version.

Launch Center remains an experiment. I like the interface but I wish it worked with more apps. I use the Flashlight every night when I take the dog out. Having some of my travel and navigation apps in there keeps them handy but not too handy. I guess after four months, it’s probably a staple, right?


There you go. Another Home screen post in the books. If you have any recommendations, hit me up on Twitter, Google+ or send me an email using the Contact page. Cheers!

My iPhone Home Screen - February 2012 Edition

It’s been remarked that I haven’t done a “State of my iPhone Home screen” post in a while. Time flies, I guess. I did a quick look back through my posts and the last time I did one was November so I guess now is as good a time as any to do a renewed assessment of what it takes to make Page One.

If you compare what my Home screen looked like in November to what it looks like today, you’ll notice not a lot has changed. I had settled on a pretty solid set of tools and was happy with them. Interestingly, some of the changes were the results of feedback from readers who suggested apps that I’d never heard of. Dialvetica is one of the notable newcomers.

As an aside, there are two potential guest posters who I have been talking to lately about submitting their Home screen reviews for future posts. Hopefully, I will get their masterpieces soon and be able to post them here for your reading pleasure.

Row One

1Password gets more and more important everyday, given how rife with security concerns everyday life has become. It is a secure, go-to app that I use all day, every day. If you don’t use it on at least one device, you have no excuse when you get hacked which, face it, will happen at some point. The key is minimizing loss and preventing the hacker’s access across more than one website. 1Password’s ability to create and store secure websites passwords (and credit card info, secure notes, bank information, wifi passwords, etc.) and then make it easy to use them, makes it as indespensible as a web browser as far as I’m concerned.

I did a post recently about calendar apps for the iPhone and Week Calendar clearly came out on top. I’ve been using it happily for months and recommend it highly.

Awful gets a lot of use. From somethingawful’s game threads to sports threads, it is a great source of info and entertainment. If you’re a goon, this might be even better than reading on the web.

The standard iPhone Camera app was made much more useful when iOS 5.0 hit. Having access to the camera from the lock screen made all of the difference for me. Rather than launch third party apps and fumble around with them, often missing the shot I wanted entirely, I just snap in the iPhone app first, then do processing later.

I’ll do an in-depth review of photo apps for iOS and Mac later but for now, my main photo processing is Snapseed. It is in a “Photo” folder on page two of my iPhone but it is magnificent for creating great photos.

Row Two

Instacast continues to improve and I use it every day on my drive to work. If you’re not listening to Roderick on the Line, you are a dope.

Instagram continues to improve as well. With a slick, new interface and a growing userbase, Instagram has replaced all of the other photo sharing sites for me.

In a way, its a shame that Instagram is as popular as it is but it was an innovation seeking a vacuum and was the best of its breed. The promise of Flickr was squandered by Yahoo! because it really could have been the photo sharing site. If they had managed things better, conceivably it could have enjoyed the level of integration with iOS (and soon OS X Mountain Lion) that Twitter now enjoys and no one would have heard of Instagram.

My ubiquitous Utilities Folder has a few staples in it. Soulver, Goodreader, Path all retain their tenuous stay on my Home screen due to this folder.

Soulver has cemented itself as a great “what if” application. I do worksheets in it to sketch out things like Europe trips, monthly expenses, beer making, etc. Having variable support allows me to define things easily, then use the variables in calculations and change the entire worksheet quickly.

I’ve written extensively about Goodreader and it is still my swiss-army knife app. Path, despite their recent privacy issues, is still an elegant and well-designed app. I have very few contacts on there though and Google+ gets far more of my time.

GV Mobile+ is still a great Google Mobile application. It is workman-like and gets the job done. It remains on the Home screen because it gets nearly-daily use.

Row Three

The Phone app is on the front page because of Dialvetica. Since Dialvetica is just a dialer (albeit a very good one), I sometimes need to access the normal Phone app to see recent calls or re-dial a conference call number. Essentially, Dialvetica lives on the Home Row for speed, but the Phone app sits on the front page for informational purposes (the “missed call” badge, etc) and intermittent feature access.

Despite the unease I’m feeling about Google and their privacy decisions and commoditization of … well… “me” (and you), Google+ is still a far better social network choice than fucking Facebook.

The Google+ app, while still anemic and badly designed, still gives me quick access to my Circles, which is about all I can ask for at this point. This despite the fact that it crashes at least every other use. Nice job, Google. It’s not like you’re doing this on a shoestring, so maybe take the time and read all of the crash logs I’ve been sending.

Rdio is still awesome. The tethered listening chews up the bandwidth, so I generally play music I’ve cached locally. Still, that’s a pretty wide, constantly-changing selection so no complaints.

I have written entire posts in Nebulous Notes. Given the tight Dropbox integration (and essential TextExpander integration), I can easily switch between my iPhone, iPad and Byword or nvALT on my Mac. Nebulous is stable, feature-rich and well done. High recommended.

Row Four

Tweetbot is so good. I mean really good. It is the best Twitter client on any platform and I love using it. The new version was recently released and added a slew of neat features.

Mail is a sad necessity.

One new item on the Home screen is the Quick Entry for Omnifocus icon. I read about this on the OmniFocus forums a few months ago and the thought intrigued me so I gave it a shot. The Quick Entry button in the OmniFocus interface is pretty fast, but this method saves a tap or two and, unbelievably, is even faster. One tap launches OmniFocus and takes me directly to the Quick Entry screen. It’s slick.

Safari is still the best mobile browser.

Home Row

Dialvetica is a new addition to the Home screen. It is an extremely fast dialer app for iPhone. I can usually dial contacts in 3-4 taps and that includes turning on the phone, opening Dialvetica and hitting dial. Pretty incredible.

Messages gets even more essential with the newly-announced Messages app for OS X Mountain Lion release. I know it is saving me a lot of text messages but it is the seamlessness that I find the most refreshing.

OmniFocus is something I write rhapsodically about in just about every post. It is the cornerstone of my project management, day-to-day management and life management. It would be very hard to replace.

While I still have a slightly guilty feeling about ditching Beejive for Trillian, Trillian does trump it, feature-wise, and I haven’t regretted the decision to stick with Trillian for now. The killer feature for Trillian is the device chat synchronization. If I am chatting at my desk at work and then close the lid on my MacBook Air and go to a meeting, not only do my chats divert to my iPhone but the entire chat from my Air is on my iPhone when I open it up.

Another thing that has been made easier with Trillian is when I get links sent to me on my phone. Instead of opening the link and saving it to Instapaper, now I just open the chat on my Air when I get back to my desk and click the link from the synced chat text.


So there it is. Another Home screen run down complete. Look for others in the near future and, as always, comments are certainly welcome.