Homescreen - July 2015

When I wrote my first homescreen post back in April, I said that this series would be more about the larger changes that I make to my setups a couple times a year, rather than something that I update every month with the minutiae of app additions (or lack thereof). This past month I got out of school and finally found myself in a position to get more personal work done on a daily basis. More specifically, I finally found time to get done a lot of the smaller projects I'd been meaning to start. The first of those projects was starting from the ground up and rethinking my homescreen layouts on both my iPhone and iPad, and so that brings us to where we are today.




The Rest:

Ok, so let's break down some of the changes here.

The most noticeable change is that my entire iPhone setup takes place on one screen now. That's made possible by the group of four folders that take up the top row of my iPhone, and keeps everything on my phone easily accessible within a couple taps or swipes. I won't lie, it was difficult prioritizing only 4 rows of apps to be "top-level" on my phone, but there are a couple things I like about having my phone set up this way.

First of all, having the folders at the top push down all 16 of the remaining apps and make them a lot easier to hit one-handed on an iPhone 6. It wasn't terrible before, but the added 'reachability' is nice. The next change with this new layout is how I have only my most used apps here now, regardless of if there are other related apps somewhere else on the phone. Just because there are other health apps up in a folder at the top doesn't mean that I can't have easy access to my Activity rings or my nutrition and caffeine logging apps. This layout makes common tasks like those easy, and I'm a fan of being a bit more selective with what gets first-priority access on my phone.

My dock now only has three icons in it, which is a bit odd coming from always having four icons there for the past two years. That being said, I like having those three apps stand out visually as they're centered and 'staggered' from the rest of my homescreen, and those three apps cover a lot of the main things I do on my phone throughout the day. OmniFocus for managing all the things I need & want to do on a daily basis, Launch Center Pro for kicking off web searches, calls to frequent contacts, 1Password searches, or expense logging, and Tweetbot for keeping up with Twitter (which I try to keep in-check throughout my days, but don't always succeed at.)

Any app that doesn't appear on the main screen or in the dock falls into one of the four folders at the top, and it's become increasingly rare that I actually enter the folders to launch one. The vast majority of the time these days I'm launching apps from Spotlight instead. I've been growing more and more accustomed over the past couple months to swiping down into search and tapping out the first couple characters of an app's name that I want to launch, so when I went off the folder-deep-end recently it wasn't too difficult to get used to launching an even larger portion of my apps that way. I've really come to think that it's a better way to launch all but the most-used apps on my phone, and I think if you haven't tried relying on Spotlight that it's worth a couple-day trial. Once it clicks; it clicks.

My iPhone's homescreen has changed a lot, but over the past several weeks that I've been using the new layout I'd say it's definitely a change for the better. The immediately accessible apps are more useful than they've ever been, the apps in my dock are more prominent than ever (as they should be), and Spotlight makes it even easier to reach the piles of apps that hide inside the four folders at the top of the screen. I'm pretty happy with it, I'm happy that it's a layout that's well thought out and makes a lot of sense to me, and I'm happy with the wallpaper that I took for it myself. It's a custom, unique homescreen setup - and I'm proud of it.




The Rest:

Looking at my iPad briefly, you can see that I've adopted a lot of the same philosophies as my iPhone here as well. There's only one homescreen, the dock mirrors the one on my iPhone, and all apps except the ones immediately visible are launched via Spotlight.

The two most common tasks on my iPad are still writing and reading, but I've cut down on the number of apps that I use to get those tasks done. Ulysses is the only app I need to write, and when I'm done with a piece iOS 8's extensions allow me to shoot it to the desired destination without having to directly launch another app. As far as reading goes, I still use a combination of Safari, Reeder, Instapaper and Pushpin to find, save, and read links before bookmarking them away in Pinboard, but as that's probably the thing I do the absolute most on my iPad it's alright that there's an abundance of quality tools in that workflow.

The way I use my iPad hasn't changed as much as with my iPhone over the past several months, but I still took the chance to refine it down in terms of what apps need to be immediately accessible. I'm happy with it, and it's still my favorite device to use every day for most tasks that take than a couple minutes. The iPad is the screen I turn to the most, and it's nice to have that screen organized in a way that makes it easy to get the things done that I want to on a daily basis.



A new addition here in the homescreen posts; since April the Apple Watch has officially hit the scene and from launch day on I've been using mine and finding what ways it best fits into my life.

For me that's mainly consisted of Overcast, Dark Sky, Run 5k, and Pedometer++ - all of which have become apps I frequently check and use from my wrist. Changing the podcast in the kitchen at work, checking the forecast for the next hour of the day, tracking my runs, and counting my everyday steps have all proved to be use cases where the watch is useful in my life. Even if the apps can be sluggish sometimes. (Although hopefully not for too much longer)

By far though, the one app I depend on the Watch for the most is it's Before owning the watch I measured my daily fitness in terms of pure steps alone. With the watch, Apple has added multiple more dimensions in which I track my fitness - Active Calories burned, elevated heart-rate exercise, and not falling idle for too long. These are all metrics which I now depend on to keep me healthy every day, and when I recently had to send in my watch for repairs I missed those metrics most in the couple days it was gone.

It's been a big couple months in terms of how I use my devices. I've gotten much more involved in paying attention to my health and fitness, focused in on my core uses for my iPad, and added a whole new homescreen - this time mounted on my wrist. I'm pretty happy with where I am right now, and I think it'll be awhile from now before I'm ready to reconfigure or talk about my setups again. I'll see you guys in the fall.