December Home Screens Update

First, on a sort-of programming note, I failed to publish a home screens update in November and am quite a bit late for this month. The future of this series is a bit in flux at the moment. I’d certainly like to continue doing them, but my time has been at a premium lately.

Between my new job — where I’m having a blast — and social engagements around the holidays, I haven’t had much time for writing. While this is something I plan on spending more time on in the new year, I’m not sure what form it will take exactly. My highest priority is to start publishing link posts and feature articles more regularly again while additional projects like the home screens updates are quite a bit lower on my list.

That doesn’t mean that these are going away entirely, I just need to make sure everything else that I have on my plate is going smoothly before I jump back on these sorts of projects. My hope is that this temporary hiatus will be short, but I think it’s also worth considering whether these updates are something that continue to add value to my life and yours. If you have any feedback regarding this — good or bad — I would very much appreciate you dropping a note in my Twitter mentions to share your thoughts.

December 2018

iPhone Home Screen

Notable Changes:

Three changes to my main home screen layout is quite a bit for me, especially when combined with some changes to my second home screen as well. It feels like I have an entirely different iPhone compared to what I was using just a couple months ago.

I’ve installed the meditation and deep breathing application Oak, which bumped Screens to my second home screen. I find myself needing to perform tasks on my Mac far less frequently, so the safety valve of Screens isn’t quite as important as it had been in the past. And the addition of regular meditation and deep breathing into my life has been invaluable as I’ve been adjusting my life around my new job at Automattic.

I’ve only had Oak installed for a week or so, but it’s been great so far. It’s entirely free, well designed, and offers everything you need to get started with meditation and deep breathing. If you’re looking to add this sort of activity to your daily routine, I highly recommend starting with Oak.

After a few years with Bear and Vesper, I’ve reinstalled Simplenote on my iPhone, which bumped Day One to my second home screen. I haven’t carved out as much time in recent months for writing in Day One, but it’s certainly something I’d like to return to. I expect the app will only increase in value the more I use it, so this is something I’d like to invest more time into in the new year.

As for Simplenote, this has become my go-to note-taking app for work. I use it to keep track of the tasks that I do throughout the week, jot down notes during meetings, and store various thoughts and ideas that that I’d like to explore in the future. The app is owned and developed by Automattic so there’s certainly some element of dog-fooding regarding my decision to use it over other options, but I’ve been very happy with it’s interface and feature-set. It was a rock-solid app when it initially launched in the early days of the App Store and that continues to be true today.

The last addition to my first home screen is a Shortcut I’ve created called “Balance”. It’s basically just a launcher for my banking apps, but I absolutely love it. It uses a “Choose from Menu” action to list all of my banking and financial apps and then utilizes the “Open App” action to open the corresponding application. It’s such a simple little Shortcut, but makes my life so much easier.

On my second home screen, I’ve introduced the WordPress app and started using Noizio as my white noise app of choice. I’ve been using the WordPress app to publish entries to a private weblog that I setup as a Christmas wishlist for sharing with my family, which has worked out very well. I’ve received more than one comment about how easy I was to shop for this year and it’s entirely due to setting up this site. But in addition to managing my wishlist site, the app also allows me to keep track of internal communication within Automattic from the Reader tab.

I haven’t spent too much time with Noizio, but my first impressions have been positive. It has a nice clean interface and a great collection of sounds built-in that you can mix to your liking. You can save presets, set timers, and I think the application icon is top-notch.

Apple Watch Faces

Notable Changes:

Every once and a while I tinker a bit more with my Apple Watch faces. Since my last update, I’ve switched my everyday, non-working watch face from the Breathe face to Utility. With the same set of complications — sunrise/sunset, WaterMinder, and Carrot. The biggest change is that this face also allows me to see the current date in the center complication, which I missed in my previous setup.

On my watch face that I use most often — Modular — I’ve swapped Cardiogram for Carrot. This let’s me keep an eye on the weather throughout the work day so I’ll know if it’s warm enough for a walk around the block on my breaks.

My workout watch face — Activity Digital — has remained largely unchanged. I’ve added Cardiogram in place of Overcast because I haven’t found myself using my watch for podcast playback as much as I initially expected. Perhaps this will change when the weather gets a bit warmer this spring, but for now, I’d rather have a quick way to glance at my latest heart rate reading than a shortcut to an application that I rarely launch on this device.

iPad Home Screen

Notable Changes:

Much of the changes I’ve made to my iPad over the past couple of months have been a reflection of what I’ve done on my iPhone. I’ve removed some lesser-used applications like Coda, TV, 1Password, and Files and replaced them with applications that I’ve covered in the iPhone section above — Oak, WordPress, the Balance shortcut, and Simplenote.

I’ve changed the icon associated with my Instagram shortcut, but the underlying actions remain the same — it gives me a home screen icon, which launched the Instagram website within a Safari View Controller. I haven’t been checking the service as frequently as I had in the past, but I imagine there will be plenty of great photographs to browse throughout the holidays this year.

I have moved Terminology back out of my folder and onto the main home screen. This isn’t exactly due to a change in habits, but more of an aspirational change. I’d like to write more frequently in the new year and having more applications on my home screen dedicated to that task might serve as some additional motivation for me.

Apple TV Home Screen

Notable Changes:

I haven’t made any changes to my Apple TV over the past couple of months, but it’s certainly due for some updates. I purchased a Nintendo Switch a little bit ago and since then, I haven’t spent any time playing games on my Apple TV. At some point in the next few weeks I’ll have to reorganize my app icons around that new reality.

I’ve also put my YogaGlo subscription on hold for now. With the new job and all of the social engagements around the holidays, I haven’t had time for working out. I expect I’ll pick it back up sometime in the new year, but until then, I don’t really need that icon to be so prominent on my home screen. And who knows, maybe I’ll try out another yoga app when I get back into it again.