Home Screens and Linen

iPad Home Screen with Linen Wallpaper

I’m quite finicky about my home screen organization. I often sit down for an hour (or more) with one of my iOS devices, alongside paper and pen, to further perfect my home screen layout strategy. It’s silly, I’m sure, but I care very deeply about optimizing my home screen layout in an effort to place each icon in just the right location. I want the apps I use most to be quickly accessible and I prefer layouts that maintain contrast between adjacent icons.

iOS 11’s newly designed Dock, as well as the drag and drop feature, has proved difficult for me to wrap my head around from a home screen layout perspective. I’ve had the beta installed for a month and I still haven’t honed in on a layout that I’m comfortable with.

The Dock, being able to hold more icons in iOS 11, has me wanting to place every app I can within it, but without adding a folder or two, I can’t use it to access all of the apps I use regularly. Placing apps in a folder feels like I’m introducing too much friction between me and my applications.

But iOS 11’s drag and drop feature being the only means of opening multiple apps side-by-side gives everything in the Dock a huge advantage compared to the apps on my home screen. Swiping up for the dock and dragging an application in for multitasking is leaps and bounds easier than having to revert back to the home screen to find the app you want to multitask with. Not to mention the jarring context change in doing so.

At this moment, I still haven’t figured out a great organizational strategy for my app icons. The setup I’m currently working with is heavily based upon my previous strategy — three rows with five icons each and my Dock filled with my most used apps. It’s serviceable and the additional five icons that I’ve placed in the Dock certainly has me feeling more productive.

But I feel like there’s something better out there. Something that would allow me quick access to all of the apps I use most without adding too much friction when multitasking. Something that won’t make some apps feel like second-class citizens because they’ve been relegated to the home screen or hidden within a folder. Perhaps this just isn’t possible without Apple making more changes at the system level. I’m not sure what those changes could be, but until that time I guess I’ll have to settle for the setup I’m using now.

As a bit of an aside, I first mentioned my iOS 11 home screen woes when I linked to Stephen Hackett’s collection of macOS wallpapers. I was hoping that I could come up with a system for my app icons that would allow me to use a busier home screen wallpaper — like one from Stephen’s collection. I had been using simple gradient wallpapers to prevent the text below each icon from clashing with the background.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, I haven’t been able to do that. I’m currently using the default wallpaper from El Capitan on my lock screen, but I put something neat together for my home screen that adds just enough visual interest without clashing with the app icon names — Apple’s linen texture.

Apple Linen

The linen texture was first introduced in iOS 4 and eventually found its way to the Mac with OS X Lion. Apple may have overused the texture during its peak and it often appeared in odd locations, but I’ve always been fond of it. And I felt that it was the perfect backdrop for my application icons.

If you’re feeling a little nostalgic, the wallpaper is available in several resolutions to best fit the device you’re using it on:

If you’re using the macOS version, make sure to go into the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane and set it to “Tile”, otherwise you’ll have a stretched mess for a background.

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The Nano and Shuffle Discontinuation

As you may have heard, Apple quietly discontinued the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle yesterday. The move wasn’t done alongside a press release or a statement, Instead, Apple simply removed the items from their online store. And people noticed. The news was later confirmed by Business Insider, who received confirmation from Apple that the Nano and Shuffle were, indeed, discontinued.

The Nano and Shuffle will still be available in some retail stores while supplies last, but this news leaves the iPod Touch as the only “iPod” branded product in Apple’s lineup. You’ll get more storage for your money with the iPod Touch today, though. Apple has increased storage capacities on the two models — 32GB for $199 and 128GB for $299.

The first-generation iPod Nano was the first Apple product I ever owned. I received it as a Christmas gift in 2005 and it marked a turning point in my computing life. Prior to owning the iPod, I was a dedicated PC enthusiast. I was enthralled by graphics cards, motherboards, processors, and all other forms of computer components. All I wanted to do was build computers and set them up. But the iPod changed that.

The iPod Nano acted as the halo product that everyone claimed it to be. From the moment I connected the iPod Nano to my PC and configured it in iTunes, I was hooked. I had never interacted with a device that was so easy to use and fun to manage. Nothing felt like a chore. Once I had my sync settings just right, I could connect the iPod once a day and all of my new music and podcasts would automatically transfer. It was like magic.

The iPod Nano allowed me to dip my toes in the water before jumping in the following year by purchasing a MacBook for college. If it wasn’t for the iPod Nano, I might never have fallen in love with Apple design aesthetics and acquired a dozen or so Apple devices over the past twelve years.

I can imagine my story is no different from millions of others who first realized how great computing devices could be when they purchased an iPod. But it’s time to put the Nano and Shuffle out to pasture. The smartphone, being The One Device that it is, has completely obliterated the dedicated music player market. The Nano and Shuffle served their roles well, but there’s no reason to sell a single-purpose device when the iPhone can do everything the iPod could, and more.

Pour one out for two of the best halo products Apple ever had.

On Subscription Pricing


—July 22, 2017

Canopy by Studio Neat


—July 21, 2017

The New Initial Charge


—July 12, 2017

The iPhone Launch


—June 29, 2017

iOS 11


—June 22, 2017

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