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.

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.

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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.

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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.

4 responses

  1. @philbowell An inter­est­ing idea. I’ve been con­tem­plat­ing some­thing sim­i­lar — maybe not to that degree — but I’m already pret­ty min­i­mal, just think I need to change things up a bit with the new phone. Give it it’s own iden­ti­ty rather than being a copy of the old one.

  2. @colinwalker it’s been a real­ly inter­est­ing exer­cise. I’d rec­om­mend it, go extreme and you can always reign it back a bit. I’ve done sim­i­lar things in the past but it’s nev­er had as big of a reset­ting effect as this approach has.

  3. @philbowell this is real­ly inter­est­ing, thanks for shar­ing! I’ll prob­a­bly exper­i­ment with these ideas a bit myself. My phone def­i­nite­ly has been feel­ing over­whelm­ing recent­ly and haven’t been sure what to do with it

  4. @EddieHinkle def­i­nite­ly worth a try if you’re find­ing it’s over­whelm­ing you. I’ve found it mas­sive­ly cut down my “just checks” when I’m not real­ly doing any­thing and thus made me rethink how I’m using my device instead of it using me.

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