Tag Archive for ‘Home Screens Series’

iPad Pro Home Screen

I’ve already published my review of the new iPad Pro, but I thought I should also share my current home screen and widgets. The interesting thing for me is that the way I interact with my iPad hasn’t really changed at all since I’ve upgraded from the iPad Air 2. I had dabbled with the newer settings in iPadOS to allow for more icons on my home screens and pinning widgets there as well, but it never took. I thought it had something to do with the smaller, 9.7-inch screen of the iPad Air 2, but that isn’t the case.

iPad home screens just look a bit too cluttered with these settings enabled. I’ve tried limiting the number of icons to a smaller number of lines, I’ve tried many different numbers of widgets, and in every combination you can think of. But I can’t find a way to configure it to my liking and always end up reverting to the tried and true standard sized icons without the pinned widget section.

I’ve even been browsing through r/iOSsetups, hoping that someone has been able to find a solution to this. But alas, I wasn’t able to find any nice looking iPad home screens there either. I suspect I’ll revisit these options in the future, but for now, I’ll keep it as is.

iPad Pro Home Screen

Here’s a rundown of each of the apps on my home screen:

  • Messages: My preferred means of communication with close friends and family.
  • Fantastical: The best calendar app.
  • Xserve: A shortcut for launching directly into a VNC session with my home server within Screens — using the app’s URL scheme.
  • Simplenote: This is where all of my work-related notes live — mostly lists of what I’ve accomplished each week to share with the team in our weekly updates.
  • YouTube: This is slowly becoming my favorite online streaming service. It regularly sits at the top of my list in Screen Time with more time spent in it than any other app on my device.
  • Pandora: When I need a change of pace with music, I reach for Pandora. On regular rotation are my “90s Alternative”, “Ska Radio”, “90s Country”, and “Soft Rock Radio” stations.
  • Instagram: My shortcut for launching the Instagram website within the Shortcuts app. Because they still haven’t released an update to their app with iPad support.
  • Define: A simple shortcut that asks for input and then searches Terminology for the given term.
  • Day One: This has become a much more important app for me now that my wife and I have Josh in our lives. I started using it more frequently around the end of April last year and I’m excited to start seeing some interesting entries in “On This Day” soon.
  • 1Password: You can’t find a better password manager than 1Password. Trust me, I’ve tried.
  • Bear: This is for my personal notes. Lately I’ve been using the app to curate a list of movies and TV shows I’d like to see and creating a prioritized list of projects/purchases for around the house.
  • Photos: The iPad Pro’s display is fantastic and I love looking at photos that my family and I share with each other.
  • Balance: This is a shortcut I put together that displays a menu listing all of the finance-related apps and websites I interact with. I choose from the list and it either opens the app or shows the web page. It helps to cut down on the home screen clutter.
  • Infuse: The app I use to playback movies and TV shows in our Plex library. I like its simple, focused design when compared to the actual Plex app.
  • Prism: In addition to movies and TV shows, my wife and I also house our music library within Plex. But again, the Plex app itself doesn’t offer a particularly great interface for music playback. So we use Prism, which is an excellent little app that’s simplicity harkens back to the early days of the Music app on iOS.
  • Tweetbot: No ads, no algorithmic timeline, no funky new features. Just a simple, clean Twitter client.
  • Unread: My favorite RSS reading app, made even better with its recent update simplifying the process of sharing to Instapaper and other read later services.
  • Reeder: I don’t use this for reading RSS feeds. It’s primarily my Instapaper client — I like that it gives me the option to see my saved articles by domain. But I also maintain an on-iPad RSS account that I use for subscribing to all of the feeds on #OpenWeb. The app makes it easy to test new feeds for the site and export the lot in an OPML file, which is offered on #OpenWeb’s Sources page.
  • Things: The first task management app that actually clicked for me. And I’ve stuck with it ever since.
  • Ulysses: I’ve never used a more delightful writing application. It’s such a joy to use that I would consider it to be on my short list of best apps ever.
  • Safari: For browsing the web.
  • Mail: I’ve used almost every email app on the platform — certainly every major contender. But every single one of them has something that doesn’t quite work the way that I want it to. Now that they’ve fixed the bottom toolbar in iOS 13.4, this is the least offensive option.
  • Apollo: An excellent Reddit client.
  • Edit: I love this app. Having a scratchpad that I can use to jot down ephemeral notes or lists while I work on projects and tasks is surprisingly handy.
  • Calzy: I think this app has the best interface of all the calculator apps on iPad. It doesn’t display all of those advanced functions that I never use and only serve to clutter the interface. Instead, it keeps it simple and displays a history of your calculations along the right.
  • Overcast: The best podcast client at least partially because its the only good one that also offers an iPad app.

iPad Pro Widget View

As for the widgets I have enabled on my iPad, Hello Weather is at the top of the list. It has become my favorite weather app for iPad and iPhone because it has the best widget in this category by far. And that has become my preferred way to check the weather. More often than not, I just want to get a quick glance to see what the temperature is. If I want hourly data, I can expand the widget, and if I want to go even further I can tap to launch the full app.

Shortcuts is fairly obvious, it gives me quick access to some of my more frequently used shortcuts. And then I have Deliveries to track items I order, the WordPress app’s “This Week” widget, and Batteries.

The WordPress widget is a new addition for me — just within the last week or two. Previously I was using a nifty shortcut I put together to launch the WordPress app directly into Initial Charge’s stats, but this is even better. The vast majority of the time, I was only looking to see the number of views I had for the day and this widget gives me quick access to that information. And when I want to go a bit deeper, I can see a full week of stats in the expanded view.

iPhone Setup

Throughout 2018, I shared updates to my iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV setups each month — you can find a full history of my home screen updates in the archive. While I’m not returning to a monthly schedule this year, I thought the beginning of a new decade was the perfect time to share my iPhone setup again.

iPhone Home Screen, January 2020

I’m still using my linen wallpaper and don’t expect it to change anytime soon. It serves as an excellent backdrop to my application icons — not causing any readability issues with the app names while still offering a bit of texture to keep things interesting. I’ve published the wallpaper in a number of resolutions, so if you’re interested, it’s almost certainly available for your device.

The overall structure of my home screen layout strategy is also unchanged. I still keep everything on two pages and in two folders. I keep an empty row on the first page and two empty rows on the second. I’ve experimented with different layouts over the past year, but always return to this setup. It’s just too hard to retrain the muscle memory I’ve built up over the past several years.

I still keep each of my two folders with no more than six icons per page. The folder on the left, currently titled ★, is only one page deep. Of the apps in folders, I keep my most-used on the first page. But I used to meticulously rank every app within the subsequent pages of the  folder based on how frequently I use them. That’s proven to be too time consuming. Now, I only do that for the first page, the rest of the folder’s apps are simply in alphabetical order.

This has certainly cut down on the amount of time required to reorganize my home screens, but it also better serves how I actually launch these apps. More often than not, if an app is buried in a folder, I just launch it with a Spotlight search. And when I don’t, at least having them in alphabetical order makes it a bit easier to quickly swipe through the pages to find what I’m looking for.

I’ve started saving more shortcuts on my home screens. At the moment, I have Jetpack, Define, Balance, Stream, and Instagram.

Jetpack is a simple launcher that opens the WordPress app, deep linking to the modal view of Initial Charge’s stats. I explained a bit more about how the shortcut works in the piece where I shared it. But you can also find the shortcut in The Toolkit.

Define is a launcher for Terminology, which is my preferred dictionary app. The shortcut asks for input and then searches Terminology for the provided word’s definition. Using a shortcut instead of the app itself gives me a couple of benefits. For one, it streamlines the process of searching for a word. And secondly, it lets me hide Terminology’s icon in a folder — I’m not too fond of it.

Balance and Stream are similar shortcuts. Balance displays a menu listing all of my banking and financial apps while Stream displays a list of apps I use for media playback — Infuse, TV, Channels, and so on. I can select which app I want to use and the shortcut opens it for me. This let’s me condense all of my banking apps and all of my video apps into a single home screen icon for each. I could use folders, but I like seeing a nice, simple icon instead.

And then there’s Instagram. I could use the actual app instead, but the shortcut I use allows me to have the same icon on my iPhone and my iPad. You see, the shortcut I use checks to see what type of device you’re launching it on. Then, it opens the Instagram app on an iPhone or, if you’re using an iPad, displays Instagram’s website within the Shortcuts app.

For each of these shortcuts, a custom icon was at least partially the draw for me. I like having a nice clean home screen and although Shortcuts has a great selection of glyphs built-in, I’m using icons from MacStories’ collection. When the offering was initially announced, I sort-of scoffed at the idea of buying an icon pack that’s designed for such a narrow use-case.

I ended up buying them on a whim, though, and I’m glad I did. Each icon has a subtle shadow that adds a bit of polish when compared to Shortcuts’ built-in glyphs. Whenever I add a shortcut to my home screen now, I use a MacStories icon.

You might notice that I don’t keep a weather app on my home screen. That category has been a staple on my home screen since my first days with an iPhone. But since I work from home, the weather isn’t something I keep track of as closely as I used to. I do have a weather app installed, though, it’s tucked deep within the  folder. But I primarily interact with it on the widget screen.

I’m using Hello Weather at the moment. I’ve tried more weather apps than I can count and Hello Weather is my current favorite. I love how it lays out the forecast information and it has the best weather widget by far — with large text for the current temperature and an easily glanceable current conditions graphic.

Today View Widgets Screen

Hello Weather sits at the top of my widget screen alongside Shortcuts, Notes, Deliveries, AutoSleep, and Batteries.

I use the Shortcuts widget to launch some work-related shortcuts, which help smooth out the rough edges for creating the next day’s to do list, adding my weekend work days into my calendar, and adding my template to Simplenote where I log the tasks I complete each week — which I share with the rest of my team. The rest are for personal use:

  • “Launch Ulysses” opens a new sheet in Ulysses with my writing template — you can find the latest version in The Toolkit.
  • “Take-Out” opens a list of local restaurants that I can choose from. When I select one it either initiates a phone call, opens the restaurant’s website, or their app so I can order.
  • “Daily Journal” opens a new entry in Day One using my journaling template.
  • “Feedings” helps me log Josh’s bottle feedings into a note.
  • Focus Time” enables Do Not Disturb for the next 30 minutes.

I keep the Notes widget collapsed so it only shows me the most recently edited note. That is typically the “Josh Tracker” note, which is where the shortcut mentioned above logs its data. But my wife and I occasionally have a shared note for grocery shopping, to dos, or some other random thing that we are organizing. In those instances, the widget keeps that specific note easily accessible.

Deliveries is another obvious one. I enter packages using the share sheet extension and then I can track their progress from the widget.

AutoSleep has come and gone over the last few months. It’s not data I need to be glanceable, but I found that when I removed the widget, the app wasn’t consistently pulling sleep information from my watch. This meant I had several days with no sleep tracked in the app. I could open the app to force a sync, but adding the widget means I don’t have to do that. Which is nice since I only look at my sleep habits every month or two.

And then there is iOS’ built-in batteries widget, which I think everyone should use. Especially if they have an Apple Watch, AirPods, or other Bluetooth device that offers information for the widget.

Heading back to my home screen, there are a handful of other notable apps that I wanted to discuss — Headspace, Spark, Prism, last.fm, and Google Photos.

When I last wrote about my home screens, I was still using Oak as my go-to meditation app. It was free and was an excellent option for getting started in the world of meditation and mindfulness. But as I’ve built the habit into my life, I wanted something a bit more robust, with a larger collection of sessions.

Headspace comes highly recommended by Mike Schmitz, in his review of meditation apps for The Sweet Setup, which is what lead me to it initially. I’ve been very happy with the app since I started using it a handful of months ago, the options for meditations is vast and most allow you to choose how long you want the session to last and what voice you’d prefer. To be clear, this is a subscription I’m able to expense for work, but even if I couldn’t expense it, I’d still be using it.

As for email apps, I’ve tried just about every one on the platform. Most of them are passable, but have their own annoyances that kept me coming back to Apple Mail. But the changes Apple introduced in iOS 13 finally made me run away from my old stand-by. When viewing a message, they moved so many useful actions inside of a junk drawer button. And that button looks a bit too much like a reply icon. I don’t know what they were thinking, the change is nonsensical.

Meanwhile, Spark was updated with a new, sleek user interface. The old card interface was one of the reasons I always stepped away from it in the past. With it gone, it’s become my favorite email app.

Prism is another new addition over the past year. It’s an excellent music player app that I’m using to stream my Plex music library. I wrote a review of it in April of last year, but in short, I love this app. It’s a simple, clean audio app that is reminiscent of what Apple’s Music app was like before they introduced their streaming service. Back when the app was good.

The last.fm icon is actually a shortcut that opens the service’s website. For some reason, the last.fm app doesn’t display any of the site’s recommendations, it only displays your listening history. That’s neat and all, but the only reason I use last.fm is for its recommendations. I’ve linked my account through Plex and everything I listen to is automatically scrobbled to the service.

Music recommendations are table stakes on streaming services, but aren’t as readily available when you maintain a library of audio files. With last.fm, I don’t have to work to find new music. I can listen to the music that’s already in my library with Prism and Plex will send that listening data to last.fm. Then the service will generate recommendations based on my listening history. Once a month or so, I can simply take a look and sample some of the music it surfaces for me. If there’s anything I like, I can purchase it in iTunes and add it to my Plex library.

Google Photos has been on my iPhone for a long while, but last month, I went all-in. It’s now the cloud service we use to backup our photos, in full resolution, and every photo I take is automatically shared with my wife and vice-versa. I still use Apple Photos for sharing with family and I prefer its editing tools, but Google Photos is the best cloud backup service for photos and video.

That’s all of what I would consider to be the most notable applications and trends in regards to my home screen. But if there are any questions you have about why or how I use a specific app, please reach out. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you have about my setup.

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.

October Home Screens Update

iPad Home Screen

Notable Changes:

Almost nothing has changed with my iPad home Screen over the past month. I’ve spent five weeks or so using my MacBook Air as my primary machine and just haven’t had much time to make adjustments or explore new applications.

The only change that I have made is the introduction of Numbers into my ⌥ folder in place of Pixelmator. I’ve been using Numbers to generate invoices and haven’t used Pixelmator in months. The app is still installed, but it has moved deeper into the ⌥ folder.

iPhone Home Screen

Notable Changes:

Another minor update from last month. On iPhone, I’ve deleted Amaroq and moved Find My Friends out of the ⌘ folder. Mastodon was a neat platform to experiment with and Amaroq was the best app for the job, but the service never gained enough traction for it to be a viable alternative to Twitter. Maybe I’ll revisit it someday, but for now, I don’t have a reason to keep it installed.

With summer vacation coming to an end last month, my wife is back to work teaching. It’s a little difficult to get a hold of her while she’s in the building because of its thick brick walls and rural location — the cellular signal is spotty at best. But Find My Friends is an excellent way for me to see whether or not she’s left for home yet. That way I can be ready to go when she arrives on days when we have plans.

Apple TV Home Screen

Notable Changes:

I’ve moved Fibbage and Scoreboard into my ⌥ folder to make room on my home screen for America’s Test Kitchen and Alto’s Odyssey.

Fibbage is a great game, but when we have friends over, we find ourselves playing Quiplash instead. And Scoreboard might not be the best way to keep track of board or card game scores. Perhaps if we had a large group together playing a game, it would be useful, but pen and paper is easier when it’s just my wife and I.

Alto’s Odyssey has returned because it’s one of the best tvOS games of all time. Obviously. But I’m really excited about the America’s Test Kitchen app. My wife and I fell in love with the show a few years ago when we purchased an over-the-air antenna and started watching it on PBS. It’s a great show.

The America’s Test Kitchen app gives us access to the two most recent seasons of the show and the most recent season of Cook’s Country. It’s completely free and you don’t even need a cable network login to watch. If you enjoy cooking shows, I highly recommend checking it out.

Apple Watch Faces

Notable Changes:

I’ve made some major changes to my Apple Watch Setup since the last update and I’m really digging it. I have three watch faces with the following complications:

Breathe — Everyday Carry:

Modular — Work:

Activity Digital — Workout:

This setup gives me quick access to nearly all of the apps I use on my Watch. I do find myself switching faces often to launch them, but because I only have three faces, I never get lost in the interface. The only other apps I use live in my Watch’s dock — Vekt, PCalc, and 1Password.

Browse the Home Screens Series.

September Home Screens Update

iPad Home Screen

Notable Changes:

I’ve removed some lesser-used icons from my iPad home screen this month. Screens, Transmit, and Pages have all moved into my ⌥ folder and have been replaced by 1Password, Files, and the TV app. I’ve been using 1Password a lot more lately as I’ve been preparing for a new career opportunity, which I’ll hopefully be sharing more information on soon.

I’ve found myself reaching for the TV app more frequently lately, specifically while I’m eating lunch. As the summer comes to its end, my wife and I have been doing more in the evenings and I’ve had to keep up with my shows during my lunch breaks. My use of Transmit has also decreased recently as my usage of the Files app has picked up.

You might also notice that I’ve changed my custom Instagram icon to one of the default glyphs included in Workflow/Shortcuts. The old icon was just feeling a bit tired to me and thought it was time to change things up a bit. Eagle-eyed readers might have spotted the Toggl icon inside of my ⌥ folder. It’s not the native app, but instead another one of my fancy web shortcuts. I’m going to be tracking my time more often over the next several weeks and Toggl appears to be the best service for the job.

iPhone Home Screen

Notable Changes:

My experiment with Halide and Darkroom has ended. They’re great apps and perhaps I’ll return to them in the future, but I prefer the simplicity, speed, and reliability of shooting and editing with iOS’ default apps. Camera and Photos don’t have as many pro-level features and that’s okay. They get the job done just fine.

In a similar move toward the system’s default apps, I’ve switched from Newton to Mail for my email client of choice. The folks behind Newton will be retiring the app and service in late September and I figured it was better to just switch now. It’s been a long time since I gave Mail a chance and that was foolish, the app is much better than I remember it being. It’s fast, reliable, and it doesn’t automatically create a bunch of folders on your server to support features you aren’t going to use.

I’ve moved Video Games by iCollect into my ⌘ folder, given how infrequently I’ve launched it lately, and I’ve installed Amaroq and Mubert.

Like many others, I’ve been experimenting with the Mastodon platform lately and Amaroq is the best client I’ve found for the service. Unfortunately, it doesn’t save your scroll position, offer timeline sync, or have support for iPad. But the app is rock-solid-reliable and has the best visual design out of the clients I’ve tested. If you’d like to find me on the service I’m @mdrockwell@mastodon.social.

Mubert is an app I actually found in a screenshot of someone’s home screen. I can’t for the life of me remember who it was, though. Nevertheless, Mubert plays algorithmically generated music to help you focus. It has four primary stations — Study, Work, Relax, and Active — as well as a number of different genre stations. I’ve been listening to Mubert a lot while I’ve been writing and it certainly seems like it’s helped, a lot. The music is endless, seamlessly transitioning to different beats and rhythms as it plays. If you need a boost in productivity, I suggest giving the app a try.

Apple TV Home Screen

Notable Changes:

I’ve installed HQ Trivia, which is a live game show app that lets players compete with thousands of others for cash prizes. I had heard about it long ago, but it took the Apple TV app for me to actually try it out. At the time of this writing, I’ve only participated in one game, but I expect I’ll continue to pop in when I’m able to.

I’ve also shifted Evoland II, Inside, and Rayman Adventures from my ⌥ folder to the top level of my Apple TV home screen. These are all games that I’d like to start playing or, in the case of Rayman Adventures, would like to play more of. Moving them to the top level is my way of reminding myself to launch them from time to time.

Scoreboard, an app that was once on my home screen, has made a return. My wife and I have been playing more board and card games in the living room lately and this app has been a great way for us to keep score.

Apple Watch Faces

Notable Changes:

I’ve given up on the Siri watch face for now. I’ve barely used it over the past month and I don’t expect that to change unless third-party developers add a lot more to the experience. Aside from some minor color adjustments, the only other notable change from last month’s setup is my fitness watch face.

My fitness face is now built on Modular instead of the Activity Digital that I had previously used. The longer I own and use an Apple Watch, the more I realize that Modular is the best and most versatile Watch face on the platform. I have it setup with the following complications:

This just leaves a few apps that I still want quick access to, but don’t have the room for in my current complication setup. I have Vekt, PCalc, and 1Password in my Watch’s Dock. And shoutout to the Apple developer that came up with the Now Playing indicator on watchOS 5, I’m glad I don’t have to keep that in my Dock anymore.

Browse the Home Screens Series.

August Home Screens Update

iPad Home Screen

Notable Changes:

The primary focus for my home screen changes over the past month has been subtle refinements of my existing setup — small optimizations to app placement to give me easy access to the apps I use most. I actually referenced iOS 12’s Screen Time feature in the Settings app to help me determine what my most frequently used apps were and then made adjustments to my existing layout based on that information.

The results weren’t too drastic, it turns out I already had a pretty good handle on what I use my iPad for. But I demoted Terminology, 1Password, and Blink into my ⌥ folder. Those are three apps that I’m incredibly passionate about, but it turns out I don’t launch them very often. In the case of 1Password, I use it everyday, but almost exclusively through the app’s action extension.

The demotion of those three apps gave me the opportunity to surface Instagram, Screens, and Pages to the top level of my home screen. Instagram was an app that I was trying to hide from my home screen to limit my usage. But over the summer, everyone’s posting beautiful vacation photos and I’m finding myself launching the app more frequently. And I’m not sure if my time away from the app or the increased number of photos in my timeline had any influence on the service’s advertising algorithm, but I haven’t seen nearly as many annoying ads in my feed.

I also swapped the locations of Edit and Bear. I rarely make changes to my device’s dock, but I find myself tapping on Edit’s icon at times when I previously would have launched Bear. And my Screen Time statistics back that up. I’ve spent about an hour-and-a-half in Edit over the past week and less than half-an-hour in Bear. That’s a testament to Edit’s utility — despite its relatively small feature set, I still spend more time using it than the vast majority of the apps on my iPad.

iPhone Home Screen

Notable Changes:

The only adjustment I’ve made to my iPhone home screen is the addition of Vekt and Happy Scale on my second screen. I should be working on a piece relating to weight tracking apps soon and these two are on my short list of apps to consider.

Apple TV Home Screen

Notable Changes:

I moved some apps around based on usage, but the biggest change was deleting Infuse from our Apple TV. It’s a beautiful app with a lot of nice features, but the app didn’t do a great job of tracking our playback between devices. We’d frequently have to manually select the next episode because the app didn’t offer it to us. I also wasn’t happy with its Top Shelf extension, which put too much of a focus on recently added items instead of on shows we’ve been watching lately.

I’m not thrilled about going back to the Plex app — it’s still a bit clunky. But it’s much more reliable than the alternatives and that’s more important than aesthetics.

Apple Watch Faces

Notable Changes:

I installed the watchOS 5 beta late in the month and haven’t made any changes aside from adding the Siri watch face to test out all of its new capabilities. My initial impressions aren’t great, though. Maybe this will change when iOS 12 launches and more apps are built with the Siri face in mind, but in its current state, I haven’t found the Siri face to surface enough relevant information to supplant my other watch faces.

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July Home Screens Update

iPad Home Screen

Notable Changes:

Nothing too massive this month. I’ve reinstalled Slack on my devices to keep up with the Jeff Perry’s Tablet Habit channel and to touch base with some of the groups that I was once fairly active in. That pushed Workflow into my ⌥ folder where it likely belongs. I’m a massive fan of Workflow and use it everyday to help me get my work done, but I rarely launch the app directly. Most of my interaction with Workflow is through the action extension and widget.

The most important new addition to my iPad is K.Q. Dreger’s Edit app, which I published my review of shortly after its release. In short, it’s an app that focuses on the act of writing instead of storing text. You only get a single text field and it utilizes the system’s share sheet to send that text to other apps for long-term storage, publishing, or whatever you’d like to do with it. I use Edit to jot down short-term notes, compose tweets, and draft replies. It’s a great app that just about anyone could benefit from using.

With the inclusion of Edit on my home screen, I’ve moved my Instagram shortcut into the ⌥ folder. I’ve been trying to reduce my usage of Instagram lately because I don’t really like what my timeline has become. I see far too many ads, of which very few of them are relevant to me, and I just find myself feeling depressed when scrolling through it. I’ve taken some steps to try and improve the experience — following more photographers that publish beautiful, inspirational shots — but it hasn’t helped as much as I’d like it to. The best thing I’ve found is to just launch the app less frequently.

iPhone Home Screen

Notable Changes:

As I’ve done on the iPad, Edit has been added to my first iPhone home screen and I’ve moved Instagram to my second page. And given its less prominent location, I’m no longer using the Workflow shortcut to launch the app. I’ve moved Noisli into my ⌘ folder since I’ve been listening to 8- and 16-bit video game music on YouTube while I work lately, instead of the usual white noise.

I’ve also shifted Workflow and Coda into my folders to make room for Slack and Video Games by iCollect, which I expect to write a review of soon. But in short, it’s a video game database app that’s helped me keep track of my collection.

Apple TV Home Screen

Notable Changes:

The only change I’ve made on the tvOS front is the installation of Scoreboard, which I use to keep track of board and card game scores. It has a simple, easy to use interface and a major advantage compared to keeping score on paper — everyone playing can see the scores without having to ask the scorekeeper to call them out.

Apple Watch Faces

Notable Changes:

Only one minor change to watch faces this month, I’ve moved Vekt to the dock and placed the Breathe complication on my Activity Digital face. I’d like to incorporate more meditative breathing in my life, but for some reason, the Breathe app’s notifications have been broken for me. I haven’t received anything other than the weekly summary notification in a month or two. Adding the complication to one of my watch faces will increase its visibility and hopefully result in more frequent usage.

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June Home Screens Update

iPad Home Screen

Notable Changes:

I’ve made a handful of minor changes to my iPad’s home screen over the past month — shuffling around some applications based on their frequency of use. Fantastical and 1Password have graduated to the top-level of my home screen. They’re two apps that I use often enough that having them hidden in a folder just didn’t make any sense.

I’ve also demoted Pandora, Screens, and the TV app into my ⌥ folder. Pandora is an application that is most often used when we have guests at the house. And when we have guests, my iPad usually sits out of the way on my bedside table — on the opposite side of the house from our living room and kitchen. It’s much easier to play Pandora on the Apple TV where everyone can see the album art and interact with the media playback controls. From there I can send it to our HomePod or just play the audio through our home theater speakers.

Screens doesn’t see nearly as much use as it used to. My in-laws spend most of their time on their iOS devices now, so I don’t get as many tech support calls from them as I used to. And even if I did, Screens wouldn’t be of any use to me.

As for the TV app, my wife and I use it almost every night during dinner. We sit out on our patio, eating something delicious off the grill, and watch whatever TV strikes our fancy. But I’ve started initiating playback from the TV apps Today View widget instead of launching the app directly. This frees up a bit of space on my home screen and still gives me easy access to our media.

iPhone Home Screen

Notable Changes:

As you may have noticed on my iPad home screen — or my various references on Twitter — I’ve started using Day One. I’ve had the app in the back of my mind for years, but for whatever reason, I never took the time to just sit down and start using it. But I’m glad I finally did.

There are two key reasons I wanted to start using Day One. I wanted to take more photographs and I thought having a place to keep them alongside notes and commentary regarding the events around the photo would be a huge incentive to actually take more photos. And I wanted a way to keep track of the work I do throughout the day to help myself feel a bit more accomplished.

As of this writing, I’ve only had Day One on my devices for five days, but it has already integrated itself into my life. I’ve taken more photos in the past week than I had in the previous month and I feel great about the work that I’m doing. I don’t know if this momentum will be sustainable, but I’m hoping it is.

Day One has become the punctuation marks to my life. Whenever I finish anything of note, I reach for my iPhone to jot down my thoughts on the experience, insert a photo, type in some tags, and I’ll be able to recall that exact moment for years to come. That’s a powerful feeling.

And just like I’ve done with my iPad, I’ve shuffled around some apps on my iPhone’s home screen. I’ve deleted V for Wikipedia. I’ve had the app installed for months and I just never use it. It’s so much easier to open Safari, type in a search term alongside “!w” and let DuckDuckGo redirect me to the Wikipedia results.

I’ve also switched back to Apollo from Monochrome to maintain consistency between my devices, demoted LongScreen into my ⌘ folder, and moved Noisli onto my second home screen page to better represent their actual usage.

Apple TV Home Screen

Notable Changes: I went on a bit of a shopping spree, buying a handful of games that I’ve had saved in Lookmark for months. I’ve also moved some applications around based on how frequently my wife and I actually launch them.

I’ve purchased Dandara, AG Drive, Inside, and Zen Pinball. Of the bunch, I’d recommend checking out AG Drive — it’s a fun, fast-paced racing game that’s reminiscent of F-Zero. I can’t say much about the rest, I haven’t actually spent a lot of time with them — they’ve only been on my Apple TV for about a week and we’ve been fairly busy with outdoor, house-related projects.

I’ve also uninstalled the Lowe’s TV app. I thought I would find it more useful since we’re still fairly new homeowners, but I usually just end up searching for videos on YouTube instead. The videos I find on YouTube tend to be of similar quality when compared to the ones produced by Lowe’s and I get a much larger selection of videos to choose from.

Apple Watch Faces

Notable Changes:

I finally took some time to adjust and optimize my Apple Watch setup. I’ve added two more watch faces and have made some changes to the ones I had been using. Each of my watch faces is designed with an activity in mind and I’ll run down each of them alongside the complications used.

  • Multicolor Modular: Used throughout my work day to help me keep track of tasks. Utilizing the Date, Things, Activity, Carrot, and WaterMinder complications.
  • Apricot Utility: For use at social gatherings where I want to class it up a bit with an analog face. Utilizing the Activity, WaterMinder, Date, and Carrot complications.
  • Flash Modular: For use in most other scenarios throughout my day — my general-purpose watch face. Utilizing the Date, Carrot, Activity, Timer, and WaterMinder complications.
  • White Activity Digital: This is my fitness-focused watch face that I use when I go for walks with my wife, do yoga, or just about any other physical activity. Utilizing the Workout, Vekt, and Cardiogram complications.
  • Rose Red Modular: This is the watch face I use for sleeping. Because my tracker of choice — Sleep++ — is able to track my sleep without any inputs, I don’t even use any complications on this watch face.

It’s worth noting that, since I’m using so many watch faces with a myriad of complications, I only have two apps in my dock — Now Playing and PCalc. If I want to launch any of the other apps on my device, I simply switch to a watch face that features it as one of its complications.

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