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.

My Homescreen: May 2015

With this week com­plete­ly focused on fin­ish­ing phase one of a client project, I com­plete­ly missed that it was the 1st of the month yes­ter­day. So now that the work­ing week is over and I’m sat back relax­ing it’s time to sort out this month’s edi­tion of my home­screens. I’ll tack­le both iPhone and iPad at the same time, since the changes to both are iden­ti­cal and for the same rea­son.

iPhone

iPhone May 2015

Dock

The Rest

iPad

iPad My 2015

Dock

The Rest

What’s New?

  • Omni­Fo­cus — Since the start of the year I’ve been using Things to man­age my tasks, in the last month I’ve end­ed up switch­ing back to Omni­Fo­cus. Part­ly because one of the por­jects I’m work­ing on has need­ed break­ing down fur­ther than Things can cope with, and part­ly because of Omni­Fo­cus Mail­Drop.
  • Out­look, Gmail, Inbox by Gmail and Mail­box — Recent­ly I’ve been hav­ing some issues with the provider of my email, lots of servers down and unre­li­able deliv­ery. As a self-employed per­son I need to be able to rely on my email nev­er fail­ing, and so my work email has now switched to Google Apps. I’m still decid­ing on my per­son­al email set­up.

One of the advan­tages of mov­ing to Google Apps for Work has allowed me to test out a few email apps I couldn’t use pre­vi­ous­ly, and also to com­bine my email with IFTTT so that it works hard­er for me. Part of that IFTTT inte­gra­tion has been to com­bine the Gmail chan­nel with the email chan­nel and my Omni­Fo­cus Mail­Drop address. I’m still refin­ing things and try­ing to decide which apps to use, but I hope to be able to explain fur­ther how I’m mak­ing my email work for me rather than hav­ing to work to keep on top of it.

My Homescreen: April 2015

Most of the inter­est has been on my iPad this month since there are a few addi­tions there and only one change on my iPhone.

iPhone

April 15 iPhone

Dock

The Rest

New

Scan­bot — I’ve recent­ly begun using my iPhone to scan my shop­ping receipts and con­se­quent­ly Scan­bot has found itself pro­mot­ed to my home­screen in place of the no longer need­ed Right­move app from last month.

iPad

April 15 iPad

Dock

The Rest

New

Tweet­bot — Despite the fact that it’s still not been updat­ed to the iOS7/8 aes­thet­ic, it’s abil­i­ty to sync with my Mac and iPhone has forced me to bring it back to my iPad. I sim­ply have too any hash­tags mut­ed in Tweet­bot on my iPhone that not hav­ing it on my iPad was dri­ving me nuts.
Adobe Comp — Adobe have been busy late­ly and have updat­ed and intro­duced a new app. Lead­ing the way is this new one, which seems to final­ly bring the kind of func­tion­al­i­ty to the iPad that I’ve been look­ing for. Since Adobe updat­ed InDe­sign CC a cou­ple of months back to intro­duce Cre­ative Cloud Libraries I’ve begun use the exten­sive­ly and I expect this new apps role in my design process to grow as a result of that.
Adobe Col­or — I’ve had this on my phone for a while, but a recent project had me sit­ting back in my chair with a cup of tea cre­at­ing some pos­si­ble colour schemes on my iPad. Again it’s inte­gra­tion with the oth­er Cre­ative Cloud apps is the killer fea­ture.
Cre­ative­Cloud — Since I start­ed my Cre­ative Cloud license I’ve been mak­ing use of the 20GB of space I paid for to house my projects. The iOS app was always lack­ing though, but a recent update has improved it and joy of joys, I can now view mul­ti­page doc­u­ments in the app.
When Cre­ative Cloud was announced I was annoyed, I liked own­ing my soft­ware, espe­cial­ly when my liveli­hood is depen­dant on it, but I’ve been real­ly impressed with the recent updates. Adobe have real­ly stepped up their game in this regard and there’s no greater proof of that than the grow­ing use of their apps beyond the Mac in my design process.

My Homescreen: March 2015

The first of March presents a few changes to my home­screens over the last month, but the over­all major­i­ty seems to have remained the same.

iPhone

March 2015

Dock

The Rest

New

Over­cast — Hav­ing said at the start of last month that I was hap­py with Insta­cast, I’ve gone through a bit of a pod­cast splurge. I’ve found myself lis­ten­ing to more pod­casts while I work and while going for a walk, con­se­quent­ly I found myself want­i­ng a means of lis­ten­ing to them from my Mac and Over­casts web play­er has pro­vid­ed that. I’ve also realised I pre­fer the icon over Insta­cast.
HSBC — This app has been on my phone for a while, but a recent update has made it more capa­ble and it is steadi­ly becom­ing my pri­ma­ry means of per­son­al bank­ing, hence it’s new spot on my iPhone.
Right­move — This one will only be here for the next month at the most, look­ing for a new flat to rent has meant the app has received a lot of use and it war­rant­ed a spot here because of it.

iPad

iPad March 2015

Dock

The Rest

New

My Homescreen

I can’t remem­ber why, but a while ago I began tak­ing a screen­shot of my iPhone and iPad home­screens on the first of the month. I always find it inter­est­ing see­ing what apps peo­ple have on their devices and so I’ve decid­ed to begin shar­ing my home­screen on the first of each month. If noth­ing else, it will be an inter­est­ing way of mon­i­tor­ing how I use my devices and how the apps I use change over time (if at all).
This first post will be a bit more detailed than the ones which will appear over the next few months. I want to give a brief out­line of how and why I use the apps, and so in the future only new apps will receive this com­men­tary.

iPhone

First thing to note is that my iPhone is cur­rent­ly a 16GB iPhone 5c in white. It’s the first ‘tall screened’ iPhone I’ve owned, the sec­ond plas­tic one (I had a 3G) and the first non-black one I’ve owned. Even going back to my iPhone 4 days I’ve always kept the bot­tom row of my home­screen emp­ty, I find it makes swip­ing between the screens eas­i­er as well giv­ing some space to the icons.
February_01__2015_at_0810PM

In The Dock

I must be one of the few peo­ple who actu­al­ly uses my iPhone as a phone, hence the inclu­sion of the phone and mes­sages apps. The mes­sages app is prob­a­bly my most used app on the phone, espe­cial­ly as my friends have grad­u­al­ly got iPhones and begun using iMes­sage.
Safari takes up the sec­ond spot in my dock. Along with the phone and mes­sages apps, it’s one of my most used apps. When I got my first iPhone, the abil­i­ty to have the inter­net in my pock­et and eas­i­ly acces­si­ble was the most excit­ing thing about the device and it still is.
Tweet­bot is my Twit­ter client of choice. I’ve been on Twit­ter since Jan­u­ary 2007, and have used it exten­sive­ly ever since. When I got my first iPhone (the pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned 3G) a twit­ter app was the first 3rd par­ty app I installed (I believe it was Twit­ter­rif­ic) and to this day remains on my most used ser­vices on my iPhone. I’ve flit­ted between a num­ber of dif­fer­ent clients over the years, but when Tweet­bot came out I set­tled on it very quick­ly, it just fit with the way I used Twit­ter. Tweet­bot 3 is, as far as I’m con­cerned, the best ver­sion of the app both in util­i­ty and style.

The Rest

My most used apps are towards the bot­tom of the screen so it seems pru­dent to start with those.
Things — When Things first came out I was a big fan, a few years ago I switched to Omni­Fo­cus for it’s cloud sync, in the last month I’ve made the switch back to Things. I find the app works the way I think, and whilst Omni­Fo­cus can be set up to behave like Things it seems sil­ly to use it in such a way. The Today view is where I live on my iPhone and with the lat­est update most of my inter­ac­tion with the app takes place through noti­fi­ca­tion cen­tre. The abil­i­ty to con­trol exact­ly what tasks appear there and not rely on forc­ing the app to show what I want when I want allows me to pri­ori­tise my days in a way that is man­age­able and real­is­tic. Whilst the inte­gra­tion with Siri is great for get­ting ran­dom tasks into the inbox no mat­ter where I am.
Day One — This is anoth­er app that I’ve used spo­rad­i­cal­ly since I bought it. Back in August 2014 I began using the app to record 3 things I was thank­ful for from that day, I still try to do it, but over the last month I’ve begun to use the app as a more in-depth jour­nal as well. My iPhone is the most con­ve­nient way of using My Day One and the low­est bar­ri­er of entry, whilst I only use it once a day, it’s promi­nence on the bot­tom row helps keep it at the fore­front of my mind and ensures I use it con­sis­tent­ly.
BBC Sport — I use this app mul­ti­ple times a day. It’s there because it’s the eas­i­est way of keep­ing up with the mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent sports I fol­low and pro­vides push noti­fi­ca­tions for my foot­ball team Not­ting­ham For­est.
Pin­ner — Most of my use of Pin­ner takes place through the share sheet exten­sion, but I’m find­ing that the more book­marks I add to it, the more I use the app itself as a point of ref­er­ence. It’s the only Pin­board app I’ve used as I arrived at Pin­board around the launch of iOS 8. It’s a great app and I can com­plete­ly under­stand why The Sweet Set­up recent­ly made it their Pin­board app of choice.
Instapa­per, Reed­er and Medi­um — Over the last month I’ve found myself using my iPhone to read on more and more. These three apps are at the fore­front of that. I’ve used Instapa­per for a long, long time and it was one of the first apps I bought when I joined the iPhone ranks. It’s one of the first apps I rec­om­mend to new iPhone users, orig­i­nal­ly I did­n’t think much to the high­lights fea­ture, but it is now my favourite thing about the ser­vice. Reed­er, along with Tweet­bot, is how most of the arti­cles in my Instapa­per get added. I use it along­side my Fever instal­la­tion and it is a plea­sure to use to quick­ly get through a bunch of arti­cles and fil­ter off the ones I want to read. Medi­um is a fair­ly new addi­tion, I don’t use the app as often as I could but it does pro­vide me a good way to dis­cov­er new writ­ers and con­tent.
Mail — I try not to check my email from my iPhone but as a self-employed design­er it’s very use­ful to have. I’m still annoyed by it’s lack of a share sheet, and I’m intrigued by Mail­box, so it may well get replaced soon.
Goodreads — I read a lot, in fact in the last month I’ve read an awful lot. I use Goodreads to track my read­ing, to find new books and authors based on the books I’ve already read.
Sleep Cycle — I use Sleep Cycle for my alarm and have done con­sis­tent­ly since the mid­dle of last year. It fas­ci­nates me to see my sleep graphs and in gen­er­al it wakes me up at the right time so I don’t feel grog­gy and fall back to sleep again.
Insta­cast — I don’t lis­ten to many pod­casts but when I first start­ed to lis­ten to the few that I do, Insta­cast had just come out. I’ve stuck with it ever since, although I will admit to being impressed by Over­cast, I don’t feel I lis­ten to pod­casts often enough to war­rant spend­ing more mon­ey on it.
Spo­ti­fy — I recent­ly switched from Rdio to Spo­ti­fy for my music stream­ing needs. I pre­fer the design of Rdio, but it became unre­li­able on my Mac which forced the change. The recent redesigns of the Spo­ti­fy apps has made the change more bear­able and it’s radio sta­tions are sec­ond to none.
Cam­era & Pho­tos — I use the default cam­era app, although it’s most­ly accessed through the lockscreen. I don’t fil­ter my pho­tos often, most of the snaps I take are just that, snaps. The iOS 8 exten­sions are great and I do find myself using them more, I just wish that VSCO Cam would add an exten­sion to their app.
Maps — I’ve nev­er real­ly had a prob­lem with Apple’s maps. I like the inte­gra­tion with Siri and so it remains on my home­screen for ease of access when out and about.
Fan­tas­ti­cal — For a long time I used the built in cal­en­dar app, but with the arrival of iOS 8 I made the switch to Fan­tas­ti­cal. I like it’s noti­fi­ca­tion cen­tre exten­sion and it’s a lot eas­i­er to input events that I don’t under­stand why I did­n’t switch soon­er.

iPad

I have a pos­i­tive­ly ancient 16GB black iPad 2 which I got the day after it was released. I’ve used it a lot in that time, most­ly for con­sump­tion, but in the last month that has begun to change and I’ve had to use it for work a lot more.
There are a lot of apps that appear on my iPhone, so I won’t go into detail with those, just the ones that are unique to my iPad.
February_01__2015_at_0820PM
Twit­ter­rif­ic — I only real­ly use Twit­ter­rif­ic on my iPad because they haven’t updat­ed Tweet­bot for iPad yet, as soon as they do it will be replaced.
Sim­C­i­ty — I’ve slow­ly become quite addict­ed to this game since Christ­mas. I resist­ed down­load­ing it for along time, but even­tu­al­ly caved and now find myself dip­ping into it reg­u­lar­ly.
Num­bers — I’ve begun using my iPad to do some of my busi­ness admin. It helps me to stay focused on the task at hand and I use Num­bers to keep my finances spread­sheet up to date. Thanks to iCloud it remains in sync with my Mac.
Billings Pro — This is a recent addi­tion to my iPad. For a long time I’ve used Billings on my Mac, but with the upgrade to Yosemite it began to crash and freeze up reg­u­lar­ly. Just before Christ­mas I began look­ing around for an alter­na­tive and Billings Pro seems to be win­ning, if only for it’s famil­iar­i­ty and the fact I know it does exact­ly what I need it to. The iPad app is an added bonus that allows me to do some of the less inter­est­ing parts of being a self-employed design­er (like quotes and invoic­ing) in a more relaxed envi­ron­ment where I know I won’t be dis­tract­ed.