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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.

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