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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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.

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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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