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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

EMPTY ROW.

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.