My iPhone Home Screen (and Mobile Workflow)

July 20, 2013

I write about the apps I use really frequently (I need to justify owning an iPhone somehow).

I recently discovered MacSparky, David Sparks’ website. He often highlights the home screens of his friends’ iPhones, and since I don’t have any friends, I decided to write about my own home screen.

My home screen is in constant flux. I’ve moved the icons around a dozen times in the last week since being back in the States (au revoir, MagicJack and Ljubljana Bus app). It was time to get all efficient.

iphone home screen 7.19.13

I normally sell you on why I love apps, but this is more on how I use them and my general iOS workflow instead of just great apps. I’ve been thinking a lot about workflow lately thanks to the Mac Power Users podcast (by David Sparks and Katie Floyd) and my incessant urge to be ever more productive and efficient.

The Writing Stuff

Evernote, Day One and Drafts. Yes, I still love Evernote. Yes, I still use it every day. Yes, I just ordered the Evernote Moleskine to get 3-months of premium Evernote to give the upgraded service a test-run. (I needed a small pocket journal for ideas, to-do lists, etc. and since it’s $15 for 3-months of pay-per-month Evernote premium, an extra couple bucks for the journal just made sense).

I just started using Day One, but I like the idea of keeping a journal. I often journal prayers and passage from the Bible, but rarely life’s day-to-day happenings. It’s good for me to track how I was feeling, what I was experiencing and how I’m growing in my faith. Not to mention, the Day One app is a pleasure to use and I’ve configured it to remind me to update each day (because I’m very forgetful).

Drafts is a really slick app. It’s a super quick way to take notes, but it’s much more than that. It links with dozens of other apps and actions, so you can write a note and send yourself an email, send a to-do to Clear, add a tweet to Buffer, save a note to Evernote, post to Facebook, send a group text to a custom group–tons of things. I’m still getting the hang of it, but it’s a one-stop shop for text input and dishing it where it needs to go. Drafts is the new point guard on my iPhone.

The Social Stuff

I use Tweetbot (oft-mentioned, still my favorite), but I deleted it for a time to cut back on my Twitter usage. That worked, because the mobile Twitter website is so painful to use it was never worth checking (for example: tapping the top of the screen doesn’t scroll to top like every other website and app. What the what?).

I use Reeder to scour my Feedly RSS list. I switched from Feedly because I was constantly having to log in on the app and I couldn’t save articles that were linked in the blog posts to Instapaper. I don’t have to log in every time I open the app and Reeder is just plain cleaner. Much easier to navigate and save things for later. It’s also free.

I’m still trying to find a perfect calendar solution, so if you have a favorite app, please share! Right now I’m using Cue, which is mostly a data search aggregator that searches all of your services (Dropbox, Facebook, Google, etc), but it also has the best calendar for my needs. Ideally, I want a calendar to show me when I have events at a monthly glance (i.e. which days are my most open, which are busiest) and the other options are lacking in my opinion. Cue shows a little square for each event for each day. It’s simple and effective.

In the midst of trying to find a good calendar, I’ve downloaded a handful of craptastic calendar apps and every event alert makes my iPhone rumble like it’s getting ready for lift off because of the plethora of calendars. I ended up deleting my calendar from the primary Apple Calendar, and I’m just using Cue now. I’d like to have a desktop app, but for now I’m just sticking with Google Calendar.

I’m still using the excellent Mailbox for email. I’m actually using email on my iPhone more often than my laptop because of the amazing delay feature for emails that Mailbox offers. Having emails return to your inbox at a later date should be custom baked into Gmail (and I know Boomerang does that, but I want it to be native, ok?).

The Tracking Stuff

I’m on a new lifestyle eating plan (some call them diets, but diets don’t work, so lifestyle eating plan it is) and it requires me to eat a certain percentage of fat, carbs and protein each day. Lose It! is the perfect app for that. You can also scan barcodes to automatically input nutrition data and it has a lot of chain restaurants included in the database. I absolutely love this app. It’s clean, easy to use, and completely eye-opening in a scary kind of way as far as what you’re eating.

1Password is a lifesaver. I pulled the trigger for the desktop, iPad and iPhone versions, and I haven’t looked back. All of my passwords are now completely unrecognizable. I can’t log in to Facebook or Twitter without 1Password because it’s a crazy string of numbers and letters–but now I have different passwords for all of my services. It’s safer that way, and I’m totally unattached to my passwords, so I can change them every few months for added security. It’s impossible to be hack-proof, but the wall is a little higher now. Also, 1Password can autosave your payment information, which is great when shopping online.

I’m giving Clear another run for my to-do list manager. I really like the interface and if I get comfy enough I’ll snag the desktop version. I was using Evernote for my to-do needs before, but it was slow to sync at times and gave me half-finished lists when I was switching between devices.

We are taking advantage of our free 1-month trial of Amazon Prime and we’re sold all over again on it’s value. With free Prime Instant Video and two-day shipping, it’s a no brainer for us to pull the trigger on the $80/year subscription once our month is up. I’ve ordered something nearly every day from the app (because we needed it, really) and it’s saved us probably close to the $80 we’ll pay next month already. The app is perfect, and I’m constantly scanning things in stores to see if it’s cheaper on Amazon.

The Boring Stuff

The App Store, Camera and Settings icons, stock apps, hang out on the home screen because: 1. I like to have all my apps up to date 2. I snap pictures pretty regularly (especially of library book pages I want to remember) 3. I’m constantly turning Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on and off to sync with my Fitbit.

Question: What’s on your home screen? I’d love to have you share a link to a screenshot in the comments.

 

Jordan Shirkman

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I'm passionate about helping people discover tools and wrestle with ideas that will enable them to live lives that will outlast their days.

3 responses to My iPhone Home Screen (and Mobile Workflow)

  1. I always enjoy when people list their apps and why they use them. I seem to find a new app every time I read one. I’ve seen Drafts and I think it’s on my iPad mini but had no idea it was so versatile. I’ll have to research it more now.

    The Starbucks mobile app, Chrome browser and Camera are the most prominent apps on the home screen of my just replaced iPhone 5. Seemed to have a sticky button and they replaced it without questions. I’ll use just about any excuse to visit the Apple Store.

    What iPhone cover do you use?

    • I love seeing other people’s apps too. Definitely check out Drafts. It’s become a workhorse on my iPhone.

      I love the Starbucks app too. And visiting the Apple Store? I take every chance I can get!

      For covers, I used to have the massive Otterbox Defender. I ditched that and went “naked” with my iPhone for a while, but I’m back to using a cheap faux-leather sleeve I picked up at TJ Maxx. I really like the look of the Saddleback Leather iPhone covers, and I’ll probably pick one up for my next iPhone.

      Which cover do you use, Hutch?

  2. I too love hearing about other people’s apps. Its like sitting on the train trying surrupticiously to read someone else’s paper – I find myself snatching a split second glance at other people’s iPhones to see what apps they’re using.

    I use RoboForm instead of 1Password (does something similar). I think it would be the last business expence that I’d ever pull – I have over 1,000 logins and passwords in there, and its just so easy to use.

    Dragon dication is handy – better than Siri for voice recognition I find.

    I have the WordPress app on my homescreen so I can more easily update the blog.

    Skype is there so I can talk with the team.

    I use a 2-skin Otterbox Defender. Sure it means I lose the iPhone’s sleekness – but I have 4 kids, and the chance of the phone actually making it through the day without it are slim.

    Interestingly, I think cases are underestimated. We tried to sell them on iPhoneInsuranceCover.co.uk but got very few takers. People came for the insurance and were not too interested in the case as a purchase add-on. My personal view is (having had a few iPhone bounces on stone floors) that its best to put a case on it.

    I organise my hompage to be minimal, so I dont get distracted, so I actually have free spaces there (shock horror!). So I have a screen of all the games (for the kids, of course!) – a screen for all social media stuff – and leave the homepage for only the most essential, so I dont get distracted with an “Oh, I’ll just check the news” – and find an hour later that I’ve lost that time.