iPhone Home Screen

It’s been a little while since I published my home screens. But after seeing my buddy Josh Ginter publish his, I thought I’d share what my current iPhone Home Screen is like these days. It’s undergone quite a lot of changes over the past month or two — at least by my standards.

iPhone Home Screen — February 2021

I’m using an iPhone 11 Pro with the linen wallpaper and the following apps on my Home Screen:

  • Messages
  • Fantastical — I’ve tried a lot of calendar apps, Fantastical is the best.
  • Jetpack — a shortcut that launches a modal view of site stats in the WordPress app.
  • Camera
  • Headspace — an excellent meditation and mindfulness app. Full disclosure, Automattic allows me to expense the costs of the subscription.
  • Ulysses — my favorite writing app on the platform. Everything I publish on Initial Charge starts in this app.
  • LookUp — I don’t think most people have a dictionary app on their Home Screen anymore — Siri does a lot of that work for many, I suspect. But I still prefer a dedicated app for looking up definitions and LookUp is the best one I’ve found.
  • Simplenote — I do support for Simplenote at Automattic and I may or may not be running a beta version with a different icon. I use this to store all of my work-related notes.
  • Things — there’s no to do list application that has ever clicked for me like Things has.
  • Reeder — I use this app to follow a single RSS feed — the one generated by Shaarli. I have it configured to only mark items as read manually. It syncs read status over iCloud and acts as an excellent read later client.
  • Day One — the best journaling app on the market. I use it to save thoughts, long term storage of my bests photos — with context — and to generally document my life.
  • P2s — this is a custom icon for ReadKit, setup through Launch Center Pro. I use it to read P2s, the internal weblogs that we use at Automattic for company-, team-, and division-wide communication and documentation.
  • Edit — a simple, in a good way, text editor by Kyle Dreger.
  • Photos
  • Balance — a shortcut that combines all of my finance-related apps into a single launcher. Like a folder, but with a nifty icon.
  • Bear — my personal notes app. I’m actively looking for alternatives at the moment — ideally, I’ll find something that’s self-hosted or works with markdown files on an FTP server.
  • Clock
  • Calzy — I go back and forth between this and Calcbot. I’m in a Calzy-type of mood at the moment.
  • Spark — I’ve spent far too much time switching between email clients. None of them do everything I want in exactly the way I want it to. But Spark comes the closest.
  • Prism — I’m not much for streaming audio services. I like owning my audio files. Prism, combined with Plex is the perfect setup for me.
  • Unread — my favorite RSS application. It’s the best for reading feeds. I use Tiny Tiny RSS as the backend service with the Fever API.
  • Icro — with my newfound adoration for Micro.blog, it’s only natural for me to have a client app in my dock. I’m cycling through the options now to see what one is the best.
  • Safari
  • Overcast — I’ve been getting the itch to try out other podcast clients lately. But I sort-of expect I’ll come back to Overcast when I’m done. It’s solid.
  • Pandora — I use the service for their excellent customized radio stations. I have a 90s Alternative station that has been meticulously tuned for years.
  • Maps
  • 1Password — the best password manager available.
  • iTunes Store — I default to purchasing CDs, but when I buy digital, I use iTunes. I also launch the app regularly to look up artists and albums for the previews.
  • Screens — I use this to manage our Mac Mini home server and to help out my mother-in-law with tech support.
  • TestFlight
  • Find My
  • Code Editor — I wrote Initial Charge’s WordPress theme on my iPhone and iPad, all in Code Editor. It’s also invaluable for managing files on my web server over FTP.
  • Shortcuts
  • Airport — a nifty app that allows you to discover joinable TestFlight betas.
  • App Store
  • WordPress — another app that I do support for at Automattic. I use it for work as well as publishing on a few private family sites.
  • Prologue — from the developer of Prism, Prologue is an audiobook app that syncs with Plex.
  • Settings

I’m hoping to start publishing these more regularly again. I really enjoy sharing my home screens and reading about others’ too. Perhaps doing one device at a time is the best way to lower the barrier to entry.

Linked List Entries

Browse the Linked List.

YouTube Over RSS

Ever since I started moving my web hosting to SiteGround, I’ve been on an open web kick — even more so than usual. I’ve been setting up my own systems to move away from the bigger centralized web services. One of the first things I did was install Tiny Tiny RSS.

I’ve used RSS readers since the Google Reader days and have moved to a number of different services throughout the years — most notably Fever and Feedbin. Tiny Tiny RSS is unlikely to be the last, but it’s the system that most recently picked up the mantle.

I’ve taken this transition as an opportunity to try and disassociate myself from social media. My hope was to move my consumption of Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube over to RSS. The ideas I’ve had for moving Twitter and Instagram over haven’t been as smooth as I’d like, but that’s a story for another day.

Moving YouTube to RSS has been perfect for me, though.

Prior to using YouTube over RSS, I would open the YouTube app on my iPhone or iPad, browse the subscriptions tab and save any video I wanted to view in my Watch Later playlist. Then I’d start watching from there.

I think that’s a fairly common usage pattern, but I had a couple of issues with that setup:

  • There was no concept of seen/unseen within the Subscriptions tab. You would always start at the top of the list, ordered by most recent, and then scroll through until you started seeing videos you’ve already looked at.
  • Since I was doing all of my viewing within the app — both watching videos and browsing for videos to watch — there was a draw toward the Home tab to find more.

YouTube over RSS solves all of that. Every single video gets fed into Tiny Tiny RSS as a feed item and synced to Unread. I scroll through the videos in the article list, moving each video I want to view into my read later system (currently Shaarli), then mark everything as “read” when I get to the bottom. I never see those feed items again unless I specifically choose to.

Shaarli, by default, publishes an RSS feed for each link saved to it, so I follow that feed in Reeder, which acts as my read later client (I have it setup to only mark things as read manually — it works great). The YouTube videos are all intermingled with the other links I save, but a quick search for “youtube” will find all of the unwatched videos, serving as my Watch Later playlist.

From Reeder, I send it through Opener to view in the YouTube app.

Does that sound a bit convoluted? Probably. And I’m certain there’s a lot of room for improvement to help streamline much of the process. But for now, this is how I watch YouTube and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You see, I spend significantly less time on YouTube now. That second point in the list above essentially never happens anymore. Since I launch directly into the video that I plan to watch and my “watch later” list exists outside of YouTube, I don’t have the same draw to browse the Home tab.

But beyond that, it gives me a bit more freedom on the web. If another video service comes along that features creators I want to watch, as long as they offer an RSS feed, it doesn’t matter that they aren’t on YouTube. With my setup YouTube itself is insignificant, it’s just a video player app. In that way, RSS is the great equalizer.

And that’s likely why YouTube doesn’t make it easy to follow channels by RSS. They don’t offer any type of feed discovery on channel pages and the OPML download that used to be available from a difficult to find subscriptions page disappeared sometime last Fall. Each channel does still have an RSS feed, but you have to work a little bit to get it.

You can use this URL template for each feed:

https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCGYdWR8QUYn88lG0PBeJQ_g

That’s an RSS feed for my buddy Matt Birchler’s A Better Computer channel, which is excellent. If you haven’t already subscribed, I would encourage you to do so — by RSS or otherwise.

The bit after channel_id= is what you’ll need to change. The example above is A Better Computer’s channel ID, but you’ll want to change that for the given channel you’re looking to subscribe to. For many channels, the channel ID is right in the URL. For example, here is the URL for A Better Computer:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGYdWR8QUYn88lG0PBeJQ_g

As you can see the bit at the end matches the channel ID in the RSS feed.

For channels that have a customized URL, it’s a bit trickier. I suggest entering their URL into the YouTube Channel ID tool on Comment Picker. It’ll display some additional information, like the channel owner, start date, and some statistics, but the Channel ID part is what you’re looking for. Add that to the end of the RSS URL and enjoy following YouTube creators in the RSS client and service of your choice.

Web Hosting


—January 18, 2021

The Invisible Hand


—January 1, 2021

Thoughts on M1 Macs


—November 14, 2020

Digital Social Distancing


—October 10, 2020

One


—September 13, 2020

Browse the Feature Archive.