home screens

Home Screen: Jeff Richardson


It’s been several years since I featured the home screen of my friend and New Orleans Attorney Jeff Richardson (Twitter). Jeff writes the iPhoneJD blog and is a leading voice the community of Apple-using attorneys. So Jeff, show us your home screen.


What are some of your favorite apps?

I typically have lots of different meetings, phone calls, etc. every day, and I like the way that Fantastical displays my entries in a list format. It is also much faster to enter new appointments in Fantastical. Having said that, I still use the built-in Calendar app enough to keep it docked to the bottom of my screen.

Twitter has become one of my top sources of news — both news from the “real world” and iOS-related news that I keep track of for iPhone J.D. Tweetbot is my favorite Twitter client, and I use it so much that I moved it down to the dock a few months ago. I also use Feedly to keep track of my RSS feeds, mostly for iOS-related news, and the Feedly app on my iPhone is quite useful.

When I am driving, I typically listen to either podcasts, using Apple’s Podcasts apps, or music. When I listen to music, I use FlickTunes because it makes it easy to swipe the screen to change songs. FlickTunes hasn’t been updated in a long time — it still is not formatted for the longer screen on the iPhone 5/5s — but it does the job.

I use 1Password all the time — on my PC at work, my Mac at home, my iPhone and my iPad. Obviously I use it to store usernames and passwords (which, thanks to this app, are virtually all complex passwords). I also use it to store other confidential information.

And I frequently use LogMeIn Ignition, a quick and easy way to access my PC or my Mac when they are not in front of me.

But that just scratches the surface. There are 425 apps on my iPhone at current count. For example, I have a set of apps that I use all the time when I travel, including Apple’s Passbook app (I love using a digital boarding pass), TripItFlightTrackProGateGuru and the Delta app (that airline I fly the most). For just about any app beyond the first screen, I don’t pay much attention to what screen the app is on and instead I simply search to find and launch the app. I’ve grown to really prefer the iOS 7 approach to Spotlight because it is faster to flick down from a screen then to navigate to the first page and then swipe to the left.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

This changes all the time. Last week, for example, I enjoyed playing the new version of Dragon’s Lair for the iPhone, but that has more to do with me still feeling that sense of wonder from when I used to play and watch others play that groundbreaking arcade game in the 1980s. For a while, my wife and I would play Letterpress all the time.

What is the app you are still missing?

As a lawyer who writes documents in Microsoft Word every day, I’d love to have a full-featured Word app for the iPhone and iPad, one which includes a track changes redline feature and doesn’t mess up the formatting in my documents. The Office Mobile app released by Microsoft earlier this year is a start, but it needs more features. In the meantime, I use many other apps to fill the gap including Apple’s Pages app and the DataViz Documents to Go app, among others.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

What key do I hold down on my iPhone’s keyboard to get the Infinite symbol? Seems like it should be the 8 but that’s not working… 

Jeff…try Control+Command+Space in Mavericks. -David

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

I often think of my iPhone as being an extra brain. Thanks to a number of apps including Reminders, 1PasswordVesper, Notes, and Calendar/Fantastical, my iPhone remembers everything that matters to me so that I don’t have to worry about forgetting something. And thanks to a number of apps including Safari, Siri, Maps, Messages, and Mail, I can use my iPhone to quickly get answers to things that I need to know. Thus, I can devote my pre-installed brain to analyzing and acting upon that information.

If you were in charge at Apple. what would you add or change?

I’m intrigued by the idea of wearable computing. I’d love to have a virtually invisible, wireless earpiece that can tell me information about the world around me without me needing to look down at my iPhone screen, such as reminding me of a person’s name and other key information as soon as I see them, letting me listen to podcasts or music wirelessly and without any distracting hardware, etc. If Apple were to take something with the promise of Google Glass, give it the polish and ease-of-use that Apple is famous for, and then make the whole thing unobtrusive so that it is easy to wear and you don’t look ridiculous doing so, Apple would have a real winner on its hands. The signs that Apple is currently working on some form of wearable computing are undeniable, which is exciting because at some point I suspect that Apple will produce something similar to, and at some point far beyond, what I’m imagining.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I work at a large law firm, currently over 300 attorneys. When I started in 1994, we were one of the few large law firms to use Macs, but for a variety of reasons including lack of law-related software for the Mac, we switched to PCs in the early 2000s just like every other medium/large law firm. Today, thanks to the iPhone and the iPad, almost every attorney I know is now using an Apple device for both work and play, something that I never would have predicted a decade ago. Indeed, the device that sits on my office desk might have the title of “personal computer” but my iPhone and iPad are easily as sophisticated as any computer and are far more personal. I am thrilled to once again have well-designed, Apple-quality hardware and software in my life, I am excited to see where Apple takes the iPhone/iPad in the future.

Thanks Jeff. 


Home Screen: Ben Carter

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This Sunday, the Mac Power Users will publish a workflow show with Ben Carter (website) (Twitter). Ben started a law firm and is now doing a short run podcast on it called, “Let’s Start a Law Firm”. It’s a great little show and useful to a lot of people running small service-based businesses. Ben was telling me about some of his favorite apps so I decided to make it official.

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What are some of favorite apps?

My three favorite apps that your readers may not be using are:

1) Deli Radio allows users to create custom playlists of musicians that are performing in or near a specific geographical area within a specific date horizon. For example, I have a playlist that plays indie rock bands that are playing within 50 miles of Louisville, Kentucky in the next month. It’s a great way to discover new music and support live music. Also, one of my best friends is their general counsel. It is also a web app, so you can listen at your desk.

2) Songza offers users pre-made playlists that may be appropriate for certain activities at specific times of the day and week. It tells you: "It’s Wednesday morning. Do you want music for: a) waking up happy, b) waking up with energy, c) rolling over and hitting snooze, etc. etc.? It will then present you with six or so genres of music. After choosing a genre, you get to pick one of three playlists. I’ve found some great songs on Songza and love all of the new ways we have to listen to music. In another life—if I do this one well—I hope to come back as a musician. Songza also has a web app for at-work listening, but I mostly use Spotify at my desk to explore some of the bands I’ve found using Deli Radio and Songza on my phone. I pay the 99 cents a week for the ad-free version of Songza. Worth it.

3) Avocado is a really fun app that I use with my girlfriend. Designed as a kind of social network for two people, Avocado is basically a beefed-up text messaging app with a few awesome twists. When I started dating my girlfriend, she was living in Manhattan and I was in Louisville, so a lot of our relationship was in text messages. Very early in the relationship it occurred to me how much of the inside jokes and meaning-making was evolving in text messages that were trapped on our phones, so I began to look for an alternative that might allow me to export our text-exchanges and found Avocado. It allows you to use your photos to set custom emojis for certain emotions (I have a fist bump, a look of dismay, and a high-five emoji), create and update shared lists, and share, caption, and draw on photos. It’s a really fun app that (again), has a web component. So while I’m at my desk, I can text her on her phone using my computer keyboard, which is really nice.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Facebook. I wish I didn’t like it so much, but I do.

What is the app you are still missing?

I don’t really feel like I’m missing apps so much as I feel like I’m missing some functionality in the apps I already use. I use Sparrow as an email client even though I know I’m living on borrowed time following its acquisition by Google because it has a “Send and Archive” feature. I love “Send and Archive”. More email clients should offer it.

Also, I wish Songza made it possible to save songs to playlists that I could create rather than only offering me their playlists. Instead, I’m snapping screenshots of good songs and adding them to Spotify playlists.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

I run my law practice through my phone. My iPhone is my office phone. I use Soulver to calculate mileage, balance my books, and double-check the math that loan servicers have performed when offering or denying my clients loan modifications. I track my time when I’m on the run using Rocket Matter’s iPhone app. I navigate to rural Kentucky’s courthouses using Google Maps and listen to Roderick on the Line on my way there using Downcast. Even when I’m standing at my desk, I’m just as likely to log on to check my bank balances on my phone as on my computer.

So, is “constantly” an answer?

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

IT IS A COMPUTER. IN MY POCKET. I feel really lucky to be old enough to remember computing in the mid–80s and hope I never stop feeling grateful for the nerds that make this all possible.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I practice consumer law, which basically means that I’m representing people who have been duped, defrauded, or otherwise misled/screwed by a business. I wish there were an easier way to export text message exchanges. In a surprising number of my cases, text messages are going to be evidence in a trial. Screenshots? Come on.

Anything else you’d like to share?

If you’re a guitar player, I really recommend the ultimate-guitar.com app for iPad. I use it on my Mini and it really makes finding, storing, and playing music easy and fun.

Thanks Ben.


Home Screens: Katie Floyd


This week I’m featuring my kind and patient podcast partner Katie Floyd (website) (Twitter). Katie and I have been partners on the Mac Power Users podcast for four years now and she still (usually) answers her phone when I call. That makes Katie special.


What are some of favorite apps?

Since the update to version 2, OmniFocus on iPhone has become my favorite place to interact with OmniFocus throughout the day. When I’m entering or organizing a long list of new tasks I’ll still use the Mac App, but the new forecast view allowing me to see at-a-glance everything I need to get done today has been a game changer.

I keep Reminders on my home screen because I use it for different things. Reminders has become my default App for lists. I keep shopping and related lists in Reminders. I like Dr. Drang’s recent tip to create reminders to look at the shopping based on location. I also have my default Reminders list dump into OmniFocus so if I need to enter a quick series of task to process later, I’ll usually enter them in Reminders, or possibly Drafts and export to Reminders. With background processing OmniFocus will now regularly pick them up and move them to the OmniFocus inbox.

Downcast is probably my most used App after Mail. I made the switch to Downcast a couple months ago after their Mac app was released. I was just so fed up with the state of the Apple Podcasts app and syncing. I caved in and bought an armband for use at the gym and I hate it, but I really like having a great podcast app. Of course, now I hear the Apple Podcast app has been updated and actually syncs so maybe it’s time to look at it again.

Evernote is where I store “everything else” and it got a really nice update with iOS 7.

Drafts is the App that I use to start notes, ideas or other ramblings, then shoot them off to the respective apps for storage or to finish later.

What’s changed on your home screen since iOS 7?

Like David, I’m using Twitteriffic now on iOS. I really like the Twitteriffic interface with iOS 7.Tweetbot is my preferred application from a feature and functionality perspective, but since it hasn’t been updated yet (I hear an update is coming soon) I was finding it a pain point to use. I hope to be able to go back one day. (You’ll notice I still keep Tweetbot on my 2nd screen).

I also got rid of Pastebot and Calcbot. Pastebot never quite worked properly for me in iOS 7 and hasn’t been updated in years and was time to go. CalcBot was obsolete in part because I have quick access to the calculator through Control Center. In fact, features like Control Center and Siri have allowed me to move a number of apps off my home screen (Calculator, Clock, etc.) and I think the next time I’m looking for space on the home screen for an app, the Camera app may be the next to go since I have easy access to it already via the lock screen or Control Center.

What is the app you are still missing?

A great calendar app. Fantastical is the best so far but it hasn’t been updated for iOS 7. I hear Fantastical 2 is due out soon. I’m hoping that fits the bill.


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My home screen is setup mostly with folders, with a few one-off Apps that are more frequently used. I like that since iOS 7 I’ve been able to add more items to folders which means I now only have one “Productivity” and one “Utility” folder. For years, I’ve always tried to keep my iPhone down to two screens, my iPad I have down to one.

What feature would you add?

I use Siri all the time and I have bluetooth built in my car. However the microphone in my car isn’t as good as the microphone in the iPhone and as a result Siri isn’t nearly as accurate. There’s an option to toggle Siri to use either the car bluetooth or the iPhone, but you can’t mix and match. When Siri’s connected to the car, she doesn’t understand me as well, but gives great feedback (because she reads everything on screen for eyes-free mode). I wish there was a way to use the iPhone’s microphone for better recognition but the car’s speakers for better feedback.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Overall, I’m really enjoying iOS 7. Great update.

Thanks Katie. 


Home Screens: Me, iOS 7 Edition

I thought it would be fun to post my home screen again, since it has changed quite a bit with iOS 7

My Home Screen Apps

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Apple Mail

I’ve been working with a lot of third party mail apps lately. I really like Dispatch but I keep coming back to Apple Mail, which got some nice improvements with iOS7

Camera App

The Camera App’s new features with iOS 7 and the iPhone 5s make it my default camera application.


I’ve been tessting Logacal out as a quick way to get lists of appointments. I’m not sure yet whether this one will stay but there is a lot to like about it’s simple layout. I do wish it was smarter about scrolling the list more. As it stands, it defaults to the today view with the first morning appointment even when I’m opening it in the evening.


Byword (iOS App Store) (Mac App Store) remains my most used text editor. I love the way it displays markdown text with syntax highlighting and I love the way the iCloud sync works. I keep about ten active text files in it at all time and peck away at them on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone.


Notesy is what I use to sync my Dropbox text folder. These are the same files that sync to nvALTon my Mac. I keep switching between WriteRoom and Notesy for this purpose. It feels like WriteRoom syncs faster but Notesy looks really great in iOS 7.


I’m currently using Twitterific on iOS and Tweetbot on my Mac. There are some features I prefer on Tweetbot but I really like the way Twitterific displays tweets on my phone. This one is a running battle for me right now.


Yes. All of those emails, tweets, and comments got to me. I’ve now joined the Sonos cult. I’m not in too deep yet but I can see where this is going.


I switched back to Instacast when they released the Mac app. I listen to podcasts as much when I’m doing busy work on my Mac as I do when driving around so this was a good move for me. I know for some, the choice of podcatcher is a holy war. Instacast is working for me. For now.


I’ve been an audible subscriber for three years and have a nice collection of primarily fiction that are great doing errands. I treat that entire third row as my audio stuff. My fifth row is for remotes.


I’ve got a set of Hue lightbulbs that are a lot of fun. My kids and I rotate the light colors. The neighbors think we’re weirdos. I can definitely see a future where these things get cheaper and way more common.


We also have a few WeMo switches. One of my favorite uses is a lamp in our front room. When we come home at night, we turn on the lights in the house before entering. WeMo has added a lot more devices including additional lights and wall switches. I haven’t tried those yet.

Reeder 2

I’ve been a huge fan of Reeder since it first released. Version 2 is great. My only complaint is the way it puts Feed Wrangler smart collections at the bottom of the screen instead of the top.


The Apple TV is used more than ever in our house and I spend so much time with the Remote app, that I finally decided to just put it on my home screen.

The Dock

My dock holds some of my most beloved apps, including OmniFocus and Drafts, that I’ve been writing about here for years. I’m sticking with the Apple Calendar app for now because the way it displays today’s date. I’ve been noticing, however, that I don’t actually look at it for the date often so I’m in the process of going through my calendar apps again (I’ve bought ~10 of them over the years) to pick a new one.

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Another nice thing about iOS 7 is that folders have multiple pages so I am able to put all the rest of my apps neatly an alphabetized set of folders. Yes. I’m that guy.

What Feature Would I Add?

I do a lot of dictation. I’d really like the iPhone to display my words as it interprets them rather than making me dictate everything before showing me any words. This is one feature where Android is ahead of Apple

How About That Background?

It is a simple blue gradient I created with Grad.


Home Screens: Greg Pierce


While there are a lot of app developers, there aren’t many that created an entire genre of applications. Greg Pierce (Twitter) from Agile Tortoise, who dreamed up and created Drafts, the App that holds the right-most position in my dock. Katie and I spent a lot of time talking about Drafts in our iOS Automation show. Okay Greg, show us your homescreen.


What are some of your favorite apps?

Obviously, I’m a heavy user of my own apps – I capture all sorts of things in Drafts (iPhone) (iPad), and use Terminology as the starting point for all my searching, not just for words, but for general information as well.

The day-to-day apps that I use most on my phone are the ones that are entry points to communication: Mail, Messages, Tweetbot (iPhone) (iPad), Riposte andFacebook. Not all of these are necessarily my “favorite” apps, they are the ones that provide me the most utility and all of them are very good.

I love Fantastical. I almost never bothered to enter calendar events using my phone prior to Fantastical, but it made it so easy that I use it all the time now. The natural language text processing is top notch.

Probably my most useful app (across devices) is 1Password, however. It’s my password tool, but also my mobile wallet where I keep all sorts of other important personal information that I need to reference from time to time but don’t want to carry around on paper. Bank accounts, insurance policy info, server configurations, etc. It allows me to be absent minded without worry, and that’s worth so much.

I have two more categories of apps I use a lot: Media and Reading.

I have an A/V folder on my home screen with a few apps that get a ton of use around the house. Rdio, the AppleTV Remote, the remote app for my AirPlay Pioneer receiver, Downcast for Podcasts. All things I use almost daily to control and consume media.

And while I don’t read a ton on the iPhone – it’s always handy to have InstapaperReeder and the Kindle app around to kill some time in a waiting room. These are primary use apps on the iPad, however.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Not sure I have one. I have a whole page of casual games on both my iPhone and my iPad which provide me a great deal of pleasure, but I can’t say I feel guilty about any of them. I’ve got a significant hours logged Candy CrushKingdom RushRidiculous Fishing – but it’s good to relax and not worry about being productive.

I like to get in Minecraft with the kids and build things as well.

What is the app you are still missing?

If I knew that, I would probably be working on building it. Drafts was that missing app for me before I built it. I’m glad it’s filled similar needs for others.

It’s hard, however, to see those gaps. The great apps come along and not only fill gaps, but fill gaps you didn’t realize were there.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

If I never stop using them, does that count as just once? Sadly, that’s only sort of a joke.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The magic. I’ve had an iPhone since shortly after the first one came out, and I still am in awe of the amount of power and utility that I carry around in my pocket…still doesn’t seem real.

Handy flashlight, too.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

As a consumer, I think Apple does a spectacular job across the board with hardware and software.

As a developer, I have some issues with the App Store marketplace and the development process that I would like to see change – but the beefs are relatively minor ones that are not worth airing here and largely come down to improving communication channels with those of us outside of Apple who participate in the App Store economy.

Thanks Greg. And thanks for Drafts. A lot.


Home Screens: Victor Medina

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There are some really friendly, geeky lawyers out there. One such gent is Victor Medina (website) (Twitter) from New Jersey. Victor and I have presented together at the annual ABA TechShow on the Mac Track. As a labor of love, Victor runs the only tech-conference for Mac attorneys called MILOfest, which is held at DisneyWorld every fall.

This year, the conference is being held on October 24–26, 2013 and has my fellow MPU co-host Katie Floyd as one of the presenters. This is a great place to meet other Mac Savvy legal professionals and sharpen up your skills. As a bonus, Victor has agreed to open back up the Early Bird pricing for MacSparky readers.

Okay, Victor, show us your home screen.

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What are some of your favorite apps?



I run a law firm with 7 employees. I need a program that lets me work from the road, help manage other team members, and track the cases. Although I think there are some great solutions out there, the one that works best for me is Daylite. There are too many features to list, but I like that I can quickly check my calendar, or the pipeline status of any project, or even start a phone call that I can turn into a billing event right from the app.


I try not to live and die by email. But I fail, miserably.


I think everyone should have a program on their phone that reminds them how they don’t measure up to their own expectations in life. OmniFocus is that program for me. I declare OF bankruptcy like I get a doggy treat for it. Seriously, I wouldn’t be able to get half the stuff I done that I do without GTD.


I figured I was aged out of joining the “I only message people as my primary means of communication” club. I was gloriously wrong. Thankfully, I’ve convinced most of my family and friends to use iPhones and iPads, so I can use Messages - which syncs (most of the time) between my iOS devices and my computers.

Front & Center Apps

A lot of the apps on my home screen have been featured in other Home Screen posts, and those that avoid the folder (and are therefor on my Home Screen) are apps I use every day.


This is my default RSS reader, which I moved to after Google Reader shut down. I like its simple, clean interface and the fact that it syncs between the iPad & iPhone versions. I don’t read feeds on my computer, so I like this really well-designed iOS solution.


I haven’t tried many podcast-catching apps, but I like iCatcher because it can download new episodes automatically, and will sync across iOS devices. I can also throw video podcasts at it, which will also sync.

UP & Couch-to–5k

These are fitness apps that I use regularly. I’ve written about them before , but what I like about the apps are that they are beautiful. I don’t like ugly apps.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I have two guilty pleasure apps: NextDraft and PuzzleRetreat


Remember how I said I don’t like ugly apps? This has the ugliest icon and makes me wince whenever I look at it too long. However, the content inside is fantastic. Recommended to me by a good friend, NextDraft is a news app curated by Dave Pell. He is the algorithm. The articles are great, and the interface of the app is easy and fun to use. NextDraft is my night-reading.


I had to relocate this app to my second page, because I beat all the levels and it was sitting there mocking me with no new worlds to conquer. But,for about a month, I spent hours sliding virtual iceblocks across a virtual puzzleboard. I can’t wait for some more new levels.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

Honestly, it’s attached to me all day. I probably interact with my iPhone and iPad 5 or 6 times an hour. To be fair, though, everyone else I know has the same addiction. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I’m not breaking new ground with this concept, but I enjoy how good the hardware feels in my hand. It drives me nuts to see how many people wrap these beautiful things in ugly cases. I followMacSparky’s advice on using a case, which lets me hold and use these devices as Jobs intended.

The iPhone 5 is like a jeweled watch. The iPad mini is perfect in my small, meaty hands. Honestly, only the iPad Grande seems unwieldy and I don’t see myself ever getting one again.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I would make it much easier to add an app to a folder that’s located in a corner or at the edge of page. As it is, I pick the app, drag it over and try this about a dozen times until I can perfectly line it up with the folder. This only happens with folders in a corner or on the edge. It’s like “catching” the folder is its own game. Am I alone here? Utterly frustrating. I would set it up so that I can tap the app to select it, and then tap the folder to drop it in.

Oh, and I would totally make an iPad mini with Retina Display. That’s a device that I’d wake up at midnight to order. I’m hoping it’ll be announced on September 10th.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Appearing on a Home Screen post at MacSparky is a Bucket List item for me. I can die now. Thanks David.

Umm … Thanks Victor. Attending MILOFest one of these years is on my bucket list so we’re even.

Home Screens - Shawn Blanc


I've read one book on my vacation, Shawn Blanc's Delight is in the Details and it was an excellent choice. In addition to being an author, blogger, and all-around swell guy, Shawn (Website) (Twitter) loves his iPhone and agreed to share it here.


What are your most interesting home screen apps?

  • VSCO Cam has become my favorite iPhone photo editing app. They’ve got quite a few filter presets, and several fine-tune-ability tweaks as well. When posting a cool photo to Instagram, I usually edit it first in VSCO Cam and then send it to Instagram.
  • The new Safari is my favorite iOS 7 app. There are quite a few design changes and improvements that make it leaps and bounds easier and more enjoyable to use than its predecessor.
  • Scratch is a great quick-capture app. I keep it in my Dock because it launches lickety-split with a blank text entry field. From there I can quickly jot down a fleeting note, a task, or whatever. And if I need to hang on to that note or do something with it, I can toss it from Scratch right into OmniFocus or Simplenote, or send it as an email or text message if I need to.

What is your favorite app?

I don’t know if I could pick a favorite. But…

If I had to pare my iPhone down to just one app, it’d probably be Simplenote. I share a lot of text between my iPhone, iPad and Mac. In the form of lists, ideas, notes, and articles-in-process. Right now those are split up into apps that do one thing well. So: OmniFocus for lists, Simplenote for ideas and notes, Byword (on Mac and iPhone) and Editorial on iPad for articles-in-process. But if I had to, I could consolidate those things into one app — Simplenote — and survive.

From a more personal context, Day One is also a favorite. Not only is the app itself well-designed and fun to use, but it’s become the place where I keep track of small and big life events.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Dots. A simple, whimsical game that seems so easy yet actually takes quite a bit of skill to excel in.

What is the app you are still missing?

A really great RSS reader that works tightly with Feed Wrangler.

When Google Reader shut down, I moved my RSS subscriptions over to Feed Wrangler. Reeder has long been my favorite RSS reading app, and though it works with Feed Wrangler, it doesn’t fully support all of its APIs (such as Feed Wrangler’s smart streams and filters). I’d love for Reeder to get tighter integration with Feed Wrangler, or else have another really great iPhone RSS app come along.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

Two less than the legal limit.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

Hardware-wise, it’s still the Retina display. Though LTE speeds are very nice, and the day-long battery life is great, the screen is the “window” into the soul of the iPhone.

Anything Else You’d Like to Share?

San Dimas High School Football rules.

Thanks Shawn.


Home Screens - Author Michelle Muto

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This week’s Home Screen features author Michelle Muto (Website) (Twitter). Michelle write urban fantasy and paranormal books. She’s also a geek and loves her iPhone. Okay Michelle, show us your home screen.


What are some of your favorite apps?


It’s one of the best places for me to jot down notes about story ideas & research. It’s also helpful when I need to remember room dimensions, vet or doctor records, and auto service records.

Grocery IQ

It syncs between the iPad and iPhones, scans items by barcode, keyboard, and voice, and does what we need it to do. It’s a favorite because it does the job needed for our weekly shopping.


I don’t know how anyone with a mobile device, computer, or tablet gets by without it.

PayPal Here

It comes in handy during book signings. Easy to use.

Harmony Remote

We just bought a Harmony remote and it is dead simple. No more looking for various other remotes or trying to figure out how to use them.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Bejewled. I try not to play it much though.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

Dozens. At least. It’s sad. I have a 27" iMac and at any given time, someone could walk into my office to see my iPhone on my desk, and the iPad propped up with something on it, too.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Siri - There are times when it is more conveinent to listen to or reply to emails and texts using Siri. It also looks up words for me, and is helpful when I need to research topics. I want Siri for the Mac.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I’d make it easier for people to upgrade their iMacs and MacBook Pros. I’d create a way to run rules on sub folders within emails. Hazel for email! Oh, and Siri for the Mac.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m mad for a shortcut or a way to make things simple - as in grass roots simple. Everything you must have owns you, right?

That said, thanks for all the tips, tricks, and thought provoking topics both on your blog and Mac Power Users. I’m also addicted to your videos. Precise, short, fun.

Thanks Michelle.


Home Screens - Ian Byrd


Recently I attended a 5by5 meetup in Santa Monica where I met several Mac Power Users listeners, including Ian Byrd (Website) (Twitter). Ian is an experienced gifted-student teacher that got inspired to try something else. He did just that with his website, Byrdseed.com, where he writes about gifted education and develops videos to help teachers and parents of gifted children. Ian is also a big Mac nerd. So Ian, show us your home screen.


What are some favorite apps?

I love Reeder. I use it as inspiration for lesson ideas as well as for pure entertainment. It’s fast, syncs with my iPad, and connects beautifully to Twitter and Pocket.

Instagram has become my favorite way of seeing what friends and family are up to. But, since I’m not too comfortable with it as an archive, I use a couple IFTTT recipes to grab photos I post or that I like and store them in my Flickr account for safe keeping. Mint is a seriously fantastic tool for tracking family spending, and I use Outright to stay on top of my business’ finances.

Moves is awesome for passively tracking walking, running, or cycling.  Much simpler than starting and stopping a dedicated exercise app. Plus, I love getting the weekly summary notifications.

I keep a folder of web shortcuts to my Byrdseed sites, stats pages, and a related app I am perpetually developing.

Finally, I’m a Downcast man for podcasts. 

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Definitely Foursquare. While I’m not too interested in competing for points or becoming a mayor, I do love tracking where I’ve been, especially when I travel. And I always look forward to landing at a new airport and unlocking the next Jetsetter badge! 

What is the app you are still missing?

My websites run on Wordpress installations that I’ve tricked out quite a bit, but I can’t really access all of that power from my iPhone. The official Wordpress app has improved a lot for writing posts, but lacks the level of control I need for organizing and managing everything. I always end up using MarsEdit on my Mac because of its great custom field support or simply logging into the web’s admin panel. I’d love a more flexible Wordpress app that lets me control my sites on the go. 

What Is Your Favorite Feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I’ve accepted that my memory’s best days are behind me, so I love whenever my phone can act as a second brain. I set timers for everything. I have a Reminders list for library books I want to check out. I use Things to capture tasks on the go. I take photos of my parking spots, hotel room numbers, and receipts when I travel. And I’m hoping Siri continues to improve, because she makes it so easy to get the mundane into my phone.

Anything Else You’d Like to Share?

Just happy to contribute to MacSparky! Love everything you do for the community, David. Thank you!

Thanks Ian


Home Screen: Chris Sauvé

Chris Sauve Headshot.png

This week’s home screen post features Chris Sauvé. (Website) (Twitter)When Chris isn’t creating brilliant scripts (like that OmniFocus Template script I gushed about a few weeks ago), he’s busy finishing up computer science and business degrees. So Chris, show us your home screen.

Chris Sauve Homescreen Screenshot.PNG

What are some of your favorite apps?

Looking at my home screen, I realize that there are few apps that I really love, but the ones I do are absolutely vital to my ability to continue to operate as a functional human being. There’s a group of five apps without which I would be particularly lost:

Transit: finds nearby bus routes and gives the next few arrival times for each, all updated in real-time with the buses’ location data. Since I don’t care for owning a car, I rely on the bus (and, by extension, this app) to get everywhere. I just wish it would prevent me from waiting until 2 minutes before the bus arrives to start getting ready but, alas, the solutions to some problems lay outside the realm of technology.

Instacast: I need my podcast-y goodness to get through those aforementioned bus rides, and Instacast delivers better than any other app I’ve used.

Scratch: I like the multitude of options in Drafts, but Scratch wins the spot on my dock precisely because of its more limited feature set. I love how quick and painless it makes my key text-related activities: appending text to a file in Dropbox and sending OmniFocus items via the Mail Drop service.

1Password: even if I weren’t relying on 1Password to generate and store strong and unique passwords, I would need it just to compensate for my pathetic ability to remember such mundane information. Passwords suck, but 1Password makes them bearable.

Dropbox: I use this app constantly. When you have everything scanned and stored in Dropbox, you can create some real “wow” moments for your coworkers by quickly pulling up some document you needed in the moment. If I remember to put things in Dropbox, I don’t have to remember anything else, which is exactly the kind of help I need from my phone.

One key app missing from that list: OmniFocus. I love OmniFocus and have dedicated a substantial portion of mydevelopment and writing to helping people use it better, but the iPhone app is, in my opinion, the weakest of the three versions by a long shot. I love getting notifications when out-and-about or when something becomes overdue, but I think there is still a lot of design and feature potential to be squeezed out of the iPhone version.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t know that I feel particularly guilty about it, but I love opening up Reeder and seeing what’s new from my nerd family around the interwebs. It’s tough to find folks with similar interests to mine, so I really lean on those relationships, real or imagined, we can create with those online.

I’m Canadian, so the NHL GameCenter is most certainly a guilty pleasure (particularly now, in playoff season). Finally,Twitterrific gives me my Twitter fix more times per day than I care to admit.

What is the app you are still missing?

I do a lot of visual design projects and have a pile of images of websites, apps, and print work that help get the wheels turning when I need inspiration. On my Mac, I use Pixa to manage these images, which lets you sort by color and automatically adds the unmodified images to Dropbox folders. Something similar on iOS would be fantastic. I’d also love a text editor with similar features to Folding Text on the Mac, and a better way to manage and explore code snippets (to learn about a new language, for example) would be a welcome addition to my iPhone.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I love how restricted to core iOS experience is. The Mac is a playground to which I venture far too often when I am frustrated with, or afraid of, tackling the problems with the next thing I’m trying to build. I can (and have) spent hours fiddling with the unending customizability of OS X. iOS, on the other hand, forces you to get to work: there’s only so many times you can change your wallpaper or rearrange your app icons, and that’s an incredibly good thing when you’ve got a mind with a penchant for getting dangerously off track.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

Everyone enjoys voicing their pet peeves/ hopes and dreams for Apple, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t share in that pastime. However, if I were in charge at Apple, the only thing I would do is make sure that the company stays true to what makes so many of us love it. I’d make sure the company continued to sweat the little things, even if that means pushing out fewer announcements than competitors. I’d make sure that they continue to shame their peers in making their products accessible those traditionally marginalized by technology: the young and the old, the visually and hearing impaired users, and so on. I’d make sure that every bit of hardware and software stays opinionated and true to itself.

The best thing about Apple is that they are strongly idealistic: I believe that they let out the doors of Cupertino only those things that they consider beautiful, that they would be proud to use themselves, that they believe, deeply and honestly, make the lives of their users better. The worst thing about Apple is that, in the end, it’s just another company. So if I were in charge of Apple, I would try to make sure that the business junk stays in the background where it belongs, and that the creators continue to be empowered to built more beautiful things.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you, David, for all that you have given back to the Apple community. I wish everyone were as passionate and dedicated as you to building amazing things.

Thanks Chris.


Home Screens: Mike Rogers


There are a lot of geeks doing some great work in education. One such person is Mike Rogers (Twitter) (website), a school principal that started a blog about technology and education, Techedvance.com. Mike is in the trenches and has some interesting perspective. So Mike, show us your home screen.



I went through a few Twitter apps before shelling out for Tweetbot and haven’t looked back since. I like how well it syncs my timeline between devices and it is just very well designed and a pleasure to use. I maintain the Twitter account for my school (@pbvmschool) and a personal/professional account (@techedvance) and Tweetbot handles multiple accounts very well.


Lately I have been switching between this and Yahoo Weather. Both are very good and I like the design of each, even though they are very different. The simple animations that both of them have are nice little touches that add to the user experience.


I use Evernote for storage of reference materials. Usually these are things that I find online that pertain to my work. I also store notes for my graduate school studies here. I frequently link text in one note to another (explained here) which is helpful when studying and writing. The best part of Evernote is that everything is searchable. I am intrigued by the reminders that were just added to Evernote last week but haven’t used them much yet.


I tried Apple’s podcast app when it was released and again when it received a major update but wasn’t satisfied. Downcast is great and allows me to easily manage the large number of podcasts that I listen to. I keep audio podcasts on my phone and video podcasts on my iPad.


This has been my RSS reader of choice for several years now. I’ve tried others but always end up coming back. One thing that is frustrating is that the iPhone version seems to be in active development and utilizes some new UI elements that don’t exist on the iPad version yet. The iPad app also lacks some of the features of the iPhone version. For example, I would like to be able to subscribe to feeds on the iPad. I haven’t decided what I am going to do when Google Reader dies in a few weeks but it sounds like Reeder is planning to continue on with other RSS services.


I use Checkmark for location and time-based reminders. Apple’s reminders app is just too tedious for setting a time or location (I rarely use Siri for this type of thing). Checkmark is well designed and works flawlessly. It also has recurring reminders which I use to help me remember to do certain chores around the house weekly. I have tried to use OmniFocus for this but Checkmark does the job just fine. If it’s not in OmniFocus, it ends up here.


I used Byword for quite a while but encountered a few bugs and the app hasn’t been updated in over a year so I started looking for something new. I settled on Notesy because it has full text search and still has all of the features of Byword that I need. I usually have about two or three dozen text files going at any one time. I use them as scratchpads for things that I am actively working on like agendas and notes from meetings. Everything is synced through Dropbox. I trust that if something goes wrong, Dropbox has all the different versions of my text files and I can go back and restore them if necessary. I use a PC at school but can edit my text files with a great free utility called ResophNotes. It’s no nvALT but it works.


I started using OmniFocus in January and have written a bit about the experience on my blog. I do not use OmniFocus on the Mac, but might start once they release 2.0. This app has become essential for me because I wear many hats as the sole administrator at my school and there is a lot to keep track of - more than my brain alone can handle. OmniFocus allows me to look at everything quickly to determine what needs to be worked on next and helps me remember what I was doing before I was interrupted by all the things that come up during the school day. I’m getting to the point where I don’t remember what I did in previous years to keep track of things.


I moved Apple’s calendar app to the third page of my iPhone and put it in a folder along with all of the other apps I don’t use and never find myself opening. Fantastical is a more than adequate replacement. It’s a well designed app and just keeps getting better with each update. I wish it were available as a native iPad app.


Drafts is an app that I never thought I would need, but is now essential. It sits in my dock and I open it right away anytime I have anything I need to write down. It is so nice to not have to think about what app to open when something pops into my head. I just open Drafts and jot down the item and then send it where it needs to go. I am particularly fond of the feature that lets me append and prepend text to files in Dropbox. This is very helpful for adding to the lists and meeting agendas that I keep in Dropbox. I also use Drafts to write down quick notes when I am doing classroom walkthroughs or adding tasks to OmniFocus.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t have any apps that I’m embarrassed or feel guilty about using. I will occasionally try a game but they usually don’t stay on my phone for more than a day or two. There are just too many other things I would rather be using my phone for and I’ve never been much of a gamer.

What is the app you are still missing?

That’s hard to say. I’m sure that there will be something that comes out someday that I will wonder how I ever lived without. It will probably be an app like Drafts that I never even knew I needed until after it was on my phone.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

I would never even try to count this. It is always with me when I am at school, often in my hand as I’m walking through the hallways. No one even blinks an eye any more when I have it out at meetings, classrooms or while talking to a teacher in the hallway. I don’t have a very good memory but the iPhone makes people think that I remember everything.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

This might seem obvious but I like that I can do so much with a device that fits in the palm of my hand. I’ve had an iPhone for nearly two years now and still marvel from time to time that I can do so much with it. It’s also helpful to have such a good camera with me all the time. I will frequently take quick photos of student activities, special events, or a burned out light that needs to be replaced. There are fewer and fewer occasions where I feel I need a “real” camera.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

There are really only a few things that cross my mind on a regular basis. For instance, it would be nice if notifications would sync between devices. If I clear a notification on my phone I wish it would disappear from my iPad so that I don’t see it a second time. I would also add features to Mail for iOS. It would be great if it was more like Reeder and allowed the user to configure an action to take place with a left swipe, for example. Finally, I would fix some of the annoying aspects of Apple Configurator (the software used to configure large numbers of iPads at once) that Fraser Spiers and Bradley Chambers recently discussed on their podcast. I would also remove all skeuomorphism from iOS because it adds nothing to the experience. Hopefully we’ll see some of these changes unveiled on June 10th at WWDC.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks for asking me to share!

Thanks Mike


Home Screens: iThoughts HD's Craig Scott


This week's home screen comes from Craig Scott (Twitter) (Website), the developer of iThoughtsHD, the app that finally convinced me to start making mind maps. So Craig, show us your home screen.


What are some of your favorite apps?


From a dog food eating perspective, it's got to be on my home screen.

Day One

This is a really nicely designed app and a pleasure to use. I use it like a private Facebook. I try to add one entry per day (usually with a photo) to act as a simple diary. What I'd really like, however, is the ability to add a short textual comment to pictures in my standard photo library - then have them sync back to iPhoto etc. Once in iPhoto (or Apple TV) the text comments would appear with the photo in slideshows. There you go Apple - you can have that one for free.


Who would have thought it would be so useful to have a torch with you all the time? 


I spend a lot of time ferrying my kids to various after school clubs and sitting around waiting for them. Trashy novels help keep me sane. I try to avoid having techie books on my iPhone. Not sure what side of the brain stories use - but it's different to the logical techie side I use most of the day and it needs exercising! 


The de-facto secure storage app. Not keen on the actual app design, but I love the fact that I can sync it via Dropbox with my Mac version and have access to all my stuff. Previously I used Yojimbo but they wouldn't support data entry via their iPhone app, so I had to jump ship.

BBC iPlayer (Link not available for US)

On the odd occasion that I get sufficient 3g coverage then I may try to catchup on some TV. I still feel guilty streaming video over 3g even though I don't have a data cap - it just feels wrong - like I'm using up some finite fossil based resource!?

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I have two - the first is Reeder. It started out as a time SAVING thing, to reduce the time I spent trawling through my favourite websites. Trouble is, it saved me so much time I decided to include more websites in my list. Google killing their RSS feed thing is probably doing me a favour. My other guilty pleasure is the TED app. I can justify this on the grounds of it being educational - but it sure can eat up an afternoon.

What is the app you are still missing?

I can't really think of one - but that's more down to my lack of imagination than anything else. I can still remember arguing with my friend about how pointless it was to put a camera in a phone and how music downloads would never replace CDs. I'm not a great barometer for the future of innovation...

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

Sad though it sounds, it's the first thing I look at in the morning and last thing at night.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Physically, I guess it's the camera - it's the only one I use nowadays. From a software perspective I really appreciate the consistency of the UI and the visceral feeling that the OS and apps strive to achieve by way of animations etc. 

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

Tricky one since a lot of the things that bug me about Apple are what makes Apple, Apple. However, if I had to pick on one thing then I'd argue that they need to rethink their whole approach to files. They seem to want to remove the whole concept in order to keep it simple for users. Personally I believe that files and folders are a perfectly good 'metaphor/abstraction' which also benefit from having real world counterparts understood by everyone. Their current approach (keeping information siloed within apps) is not good - it drains much of the value from that information. It also results in services like iCloud... </rant>

Anything else you'd like to share?

Am I the only person who would like an iPhone5 with an iPhone4 sized screen?

Thanks to David for asking me to do this - it's been fun.

Thanks Craig.

Home Screens: Hardik Pandya


This week's home screen comes from Hardik Pandya (Twitter)(App.net)(website), a consultant, student, blogger and photographer from the Netherlands that writes about technology and other issues of interest. So Hardik, show us your home screen.


Day One

This has to be one of the most used apps on my phone. I have started logging my life for last year now and I have about 500 entries. I use Terpstra's Slogger tool and even make hand-typed entries twice or thrice a day. This one is for the lifetime.


Kind of a no brainer for everyone. I wrote my whole Masters thesis in this app and managing documents has been so much easier. A hat tip to Evernote Essentials from Brett Kelly too!


Perhaps the easiest to use music manager for my huge music library. Always on on my MacBook Pro.


The best App.net client out there. Developer Bill Kunz is almost always present on App.net and is a nice guy. Plus the experience of the app is super sleek.


The mandatory weather app on the home screen! I actually like their interface and multiple location handling. Plus hour by hour forecast is all I need so this one is fine.


Did someone roll\ his eyes? Yes I still keep Simplenote on my phone because it's fast, their sync is not bad at all even though those problems in the past. Also, it works perfectly with my huge nvALT notes database on MacBook Pro.


For all those little chores that might get slipped through the cracks and who do not deserve the prestigious OmniFocus project/task status.


I recently started using Pinboard.in and I love it. The tagging feature, speed of use and it's support across the apps is just amazing. Using it on iPhone is made simple and easy by this app.

Mail: I use FastMail for my personal email and have ditched Gmail over suggestions from Marco Arment and others. FastMail only offers IMAP and not a lot of apps support FastMail at the moment. I have decided to stick with the native Mail app from Apple. It works great and serves the purpose.

1. What are some of your favourite apps?

I love to listen to podcasts and I get my source of weekly nerdery from there. That is why I love Pocket Casts - my favourite podcast manager. Another one of my favourite has to be Reeder. Lovely interface with continuously enriching functionality and easily the best source of news for me every morning.

2. Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I think Flipboard has to be the one for me. That is why it's hidden in the news folder there. If I see it, I have to open it and I just get lost in the flow of content that is available inside. Sometimes it's too much. But I still love it.

3. What is the app you are still missing?

I publish my blog via Squarespace. Their apps are not up to the mark. When I see the polish of the apps for WordPress publishing (e.g. Poster), I really miss that functionality in Squarespace apps. They are not bad but they do not offer everything. I have at times lost whole blog posts due to draft syncing issues. They could work on it a bit. So that is the app I miss the most.

4. How many times do you use your iPhone?

I am writing my thesis at the moment. I do that in Evernote. I get my news through RSS and Twitter/Flipboard. I listen to podcasts (almost 2 a day) and I communicate via WhatsApp etc. I manage tasks through OmniFocus and Due. So you can say I have my iPhone with me all the time. Apart from when I go to take a shower of course!

5. What is your favourite feature of your iPhone?

My favourite feature of my iPhone has to be the amazing touch experience while typing. I have used Android and BlackBerrys but have never experienced the same level of polish on the touch screen. This almost works silently in our daily lives but saves us countless hours on mistypes and double taps.

6. If you were in charge at Apple, what would you like to change?

I would make the cross-app integration of data/files much simpler and easier. That would immensely increase the value of the apps and attract the developers to integrate more and more sharing services in their apps.

Thanks Hardik.

Home Screen: Sam Spurlin


Lately, I've been reading Sam Spurlin's blog. (Website) (Twitter) Sam has some great content and I like his voice. Sam's also got an iPhone and some definite thoughts about his home screen. So Sam, show us your home screen.


What are some of favorite apps?

My hands down favorite app right now (and has been for a long time) is Instapaper. I'm a Ph.D student so I spend a ton of time reading things for class and research which means I don't have a lot of time to sit down and read other, fun, things. Instapaper is almost single handedly responsible for keeping me a semi-rounded individual. I'm very good about throwing interesting articles I see into the app and I love that I can use weird snippets of time to work through a personal reading list. I've also really been enjoying Circa for kind of the same reason, actually. I like how well summarized and broken down the articles are. You can tell there is some serious thought and care taken to do that well. The app is also just really well-designed and fun to use. (D-Nice find)

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Probably Facebook at this point. It seems to be one of the main ways my classmates like to communicate so I'm obligated to keep it around to some degree. It's also a good way to stay in touch with my family on the other side of the country. It has become much more bearable ever since I unfollowed almost everybody who I wasn't "real" friends with. Now my News Feed is (mostly) filled with updates from people I actually care about. I suppose my other one is the NHL's video streaming app, NHL GameCenter. I'm a huge hockey fan and it's nice to be able to catch a Red Wing's game if I'm stuck in a lecture...I mean, not near my computer for a completely legitimate reason :)

What is the app you are still missing?

This is where I make a corny joke about an app that will write research papers or do my homework, right? While I love Mendeley for PDF storage/citation management on my Mac, the iPhone app is pretty terrible -- to the point where it's basically missing. I eventually plan on getting an iPad or iPad mini and at that point I'm going to have to figure out an app or system of apps to keep the PDFs I read and annotate/highlight on my computer automatically synced with my iOS devices. I'm sure there is something out there that will work great but I haven't spent the time to figure it out, yet.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I have an iPhone 5 and I love how thin it is. I upgraded from a 3GS so the difference between the two was striking. My phone is the hub of much of my productive life (Fantastical, Things, and Evernote being the main trifecta) as well as much of my leisure time (Instapaper, Reeder, Twitter, Comixology, Letterpress, etc.). Being able to always have it in my pocket and not feel oppressed by its size or weight is important to the way I use it.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I don't remember where I originally read this or if it was some kind of original thought, but I try to use my home screen as inspiration. I look at my phone many, many times every day and I decided that I want the apps that help me be a better person or create something new in the world to be what I see most often. That's why I keep WriteRoom, Drafts, and Ink where I do. Instead of turning on my phone and being greeted by a bunch of games or mindless social networks I wanted to see apps that require me to engage with them on a little bit more intellectual level. Even if I'm not turning to my phone to draft an article or sketch a picture, keeping those apps front and center help me keep my mind on the fact that this phone can be a powerful tool if I decide to engage with it properly. I'm obviously getting away from this somewhat (see Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, etc.), but it's something I try to be mindful of.

Thanks Sam

Home Screens: Marcelo Somers

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I first met Marcelo Somers (Website) (Twitter) several years ago when he organized the Syndicate ad network. These days Marcelo spends his time as a user experience consultant and writing at Behind Companies. So Marcelo, show us your home screen.

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Until recently, I was a devout Safari user. It wasn't until I forced myself to try out Chrome that I understood it. Google is absolutely killing it with their apps on iOS. The physics of how you interact with tabs and the single omnibox is brilliantly done. When I'm back in Safari, I find myself craving the horizontal swipe to go between tabs, or how easy it is to open in a new tab behind the existing one.

It's a little bit of a nuisance that links open in Safari by default, but I use Jon Abrams' bookmarklet to send a page from Safari to Chrome. What's interesting is that my bookmarks menu in Safari has really become like a second share sheet. The simple bookmarks interface is the one feature I still like better in Safari.


I'm an OmniFocus user for my day to day task management, but for basic lists like Groceries, Listary gives me a clean simple interface that's exactly what I need. The Simplenote sync lets me share lists easily with my wife, and do bulk entry on my Mac. I have two wishes for the app: Dropbox sync and URL Schemes. The developer has shared that Dropbox sync would prevent list sharing, so I can understand that, and URL Schemes are supposedly coming in a future update.


I won't beat the 1Password horse here, except to share one pro tip that hasn't seemed to make the rounds yet. 1Password 4's big update added the url scheme to open pages in the app. I wanted an easier way to do it, and Federico Viticci of Macstories obliged with this bookmarklet to send pages from Safari to 1Password. It's 3 steps easier than manually adding 'op' to the beginning of a URL, and I use it constantly.


I've bounced back and forth quite a bit. I gave Google Maps serious consideration after it came out, and like Chrome they are doing an amazing job on iOS. However, I find myself coming back to the beautiful maps from Apple. The turn by turn interface is much more realistic with perspective. I do keep Google around though for the occasional time that mapping data isn't correct. Waze is my 3rd wheel that I'll use to check what is going on with traffic if I'm stuck in my commute and Maps and Google don't help.


I hate email, but I'm a devout Mail user. I've tried Mailbox and all the other alternatives, but I keep coming back to the simplicity of Apple's client. I have a simple approach to email: things in my Inbox need to be dealt with, once they're dealt with they get archvied. No complicated folder structure or filing system, and I still haven't found a better app for it on iOS.

I'm of the opinion that if you are constantly on the hunt for an app to fix your email problems, your approach to email is really what needs fixing. An app isn't going to do it for you.


Much like Mail, I still haven't found a better iOS calendar app than Apple's own. With the iPhone 5 and the additional appointments visible in Month view, it got even better.

With that being said, Fantastical is incredible for creating appointments. I use it much more devoutly on the Mac. I love the interface, but the iOS version just isn't quite a fit for me for general calendaring. I like the Daily/Monthly view in Apple's app.


I was thrilled when the Dark Sky team released Forecast. It's a web app, but it's perfect. It gives me just the data I want with data visualizations that make sense.


I've just started down the path of all the amazing URL Scheme actions that Drafts can do, but I love the idea of quickly opening the app to jot something down.

Launch Center Pro

Like Drafts, I'm still exploring the world of URL Schemes with Launch Center Pro. I've found a few key uses for the app. My biggest is keeping groups of contacts I reguarly message together (my parents, my in-laws, etc.). LCP makes it super easy to message them together without taking the time to select multiple contacts. My wife and I are expecting our first baby this summer, and I've even created a very large group to easily message updates when the time comes.

I also keep commands to Text my Last Photo, Place my last photo on the clipboard, send my wife a canned message that I'm on my way home, and some reguarly used app actions like taking a photo of a business receipt with QuickShot (via Shawn Blanc).


I keep this on here as my "guilty pleasure". I was a huge Gowalla user back in the day but never fell in love with Foursquare after the Gowalla team went to Facbeook. Instagram took that spot for me, and it all clicked when Josh Williams (Gowalla's Former CEO) described the "M. Night Shyamalan moment":

They made their own rules. They called it Instagram.

That whole see the world through the eyes of their friends thing? Turns out Instagram did a pretty good job of this.

While we were busy playing tug-of-war over check-ins, someone else found a path to the goal with less friction.

Other Apps I love:

OmniFocus (MailDrop) - I love the voice capture coupled with Daniel Jalkut's Reminders Plumbing. However these days I find myself using MailDrop far more often on iOS.

Gmail - I keep Gmail around for searching my archive. Once again, they're killing it.

Dropbox - I moved to David's own Paperless system last Christmas when I got a Doxie. Dropbox lets me access all my records on the go, and I love it. It's also saved me many times when I needed to share a work file on the go without a laptop.

Amazon - What a simple, but delightful shopping experience. I love using the app's UPC scanner to compare prices when I'm out shopping, and they make it far too easy to one click purchase something I think I need. A large percentages of my shopping on Amazon is now done through mobile.

Dark Sky - It's not used often living in Texas, but it's so damn magical to get a push notification that it's about to rain. It's also saved me several times when I was going to forget an umbrella.

What am I missing?

There aren't really any apps I desire, but what I want to see in iOS 7 is better inter-app sharing of content. URL Schemes are great, but they have their limits, and it'd be great to have it be more accessible. I also want better photo/video backup. I'm currently using Dropbox (which requires manual opening of the app). With my first child on the way, this becomes even more crucial. Also, more free space on iCloud for device backups. It gets tough to fit it all with a 16gb iPhone and iPad.

Thanks Marcelo.

If you've got an interesting story and home screen, let me know.

Home Screen: Eddie Smith


It's been a long time since Eddie Smith first showed his home screen here on MacSparky. I thought it was time for an update so he shared one. In case you don't know them already, Eddie writes the Practically Efficient blog and is one of my best nerd friends. We even wrote a book together. So Eddie, show us your home screen.


What are some of your favorite apps?

Every app on my home screen is a favorite in some way. They range from really sophisticated task managers like OmniFocus to single-feature gems like Lighty. In fact, Lighty, my favorite flash light app, is one of the most important apps on my phone. I use it all the time, and it's probably saved me real dollars in the foregone cost of replacing batteries in little flash lights around my house.

Productivity Apps:

One notable trend on my iPhone in the last year is the inclusion of more and more Google apps. Until the last year, I felt like Google intentionally avoided putting development resources into its iOS apps, but that seems to be changing.

I tried very hard to use the default Apple Maps app that debuted with iOS 6, but I've found the search in Google Maps (Google's response to the new Apple Maps) far more intelligent. Given that I use maps apps primarily for location and phone number searches, the Google Maps app is a better fit on my home screen.

I use Google Voice as my voicemail solution—partly because it provides a convenient text transcription of voice messages and partly for the entertainment value in how poorly it often transcribes those messages.

Google's Gmail app really sucked until version 2.0 came along. It seemed like a slow, laggy mobile version of the full Gmail web UI. 2.0 is much better, and while I've tried using the default Mail app, Mailbox, and others, the Gmail app suits me best the way I use email on my phone—which is mainly to process incoming mail and search for archived mail.

Another notable Google app I'm using (that isn't on my home screen) is the new Google Drive app. For the first time, I feel like I can reliably edit Google documents and spreadsheets from my iPhone and iPad. In fact, I think the spreadsheet interface in Google Drive is the best mobile spreadsheet interface I've seen so far.

Enough on Google.

If the Gmail app is my favorite app for pulling email, Drafts is my favorite for pushing email. In fact, I'm composing more and more of all kinds of things in Drafts. I just love the simplicity of having a single point of entry for text on my home screen. I think of Drafts as a more natural human way of entering text—more like a sticky note in the pre-digital world.

While most digital interfaces for text entry—from email clients to task management systems—encourage you to "title" something and choose its destination first, Drafts encourages you to get the message or content down first, then choose its destination. I would love to see this design concept bleed into other mobile and desktop interfaces.

Day One, Evernote, and Notesy give me access to most of my personal information. I love tracking simple goals in Day One. Evernote is like a paperless filing cabinet in my pocket. Notesy gives me access to all of my plain text notes in Dropbox.

Soulver is my favorite calculator app, not only on the iPhone but on my iPad and Mac as well.

For task management, I mainly use OmniFocus. The OmniFocus iPhone app is really useful for capturing inbox items. I've starting using Drafts to send things to OmniFocus instead of starting with OmniFocus, though.

I use the built-in Reminders app for short-term but important reminders that I want pushed to all of my devices (e.g. "Put jeans in the dryer" when I really need to remember to do that.)

I'm glad this is a home screen post because I would be embarrassed to show you how many weather apps live elsewhere on my iPhone. Today is my current favorite for checking current weather and daily forecasts. The new Forecast.io and Dark Sky, however, both get a lot of use, too.

While we're talking life management, it's worth noting that I have two calendar apps on my home screen. I really like Fantastical's natural language entry system, and I use it a lot—mainly in situations where it's not appropriate to speak aloud to Siri. I can't bring myself to remove the default calendar app because I really like having today's date displayed on my home screen.


I prefer to read on my iPad, but I actually read way more on my iPhone because it's with me all the time. I've really been digging Newstand in the last year. Marco Arment has done a great job with The Magazine, which lives in Newstand along with the New York Times app and The Economist. The Times app is easily the best news app I've ever used. If they would get rid of ads in the paid version, it would be even better.

Tweetbot, Reeder, and Instapaper live in my News folder. Tweetbot lets me capture important links on Twitter, and Reeder is my favorite place for following RSS feeds. And Instapaper, of course, my favorite place to read the articles I find in Tweetbot and Reeder.

I listen to a lot of audio through my iPhone. Virtually all of it comes from Instacast, my favorite app for following podcasts, and Pandora.

What app are you still missing?

I'm really looking forward to see how Google's killing of Google Reader will change the way we subscribe to websites. I would like to see someone develop web services and apps that make it easier to not only follow newly published information but that also make it easy to subscribe to archived information. For example, I wish there was a way to browse older content more easily when I find, say, a blog that's already been active for years—kind of like working through a box of old Life magazines.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Thanks for having me back. It's always a pleasure working with you, reading you, and listening to you.

Thanks Edddie.

Home Screens: Rene Ritchie


This year at Macworld I finally got to meet Rene Ritchie (Twitter). Rene publishes iMore, one of the best sources on the web for Apples news, rumors, and tutorials. Rene does an amazing job of sleuthing out details for future Apple products and iMore does some really great tutorials. (Just this week they did a nice piece on iOS message archiving). So Rene, show us your home screen.


What are some of favorite apps?

Tweetbot and Twitterrific for Twitter. I use Tweetbot to triage @mentions and DMs and respond quickly while I'm out and about or working, and I use Twitterrific for reading the unified stream and linked content when I'm relaxing.

Launch Center Pro is the first third-party app to get on my Dock and stay there. It's ability to launch actions instead of apps makes it an incredibly fast way to get everywhere I need to go, and do a lot of the basic things I need to do, without the mental overhead of hunting for a specific app, contact, or feature each time.

Fantastical for iPhone lets me enter events into my calendar with incredible ease and speed. It uses natural language, like Siri, but with text instead of voice, and that lets it parse and create stuff literally at the speed of type. Downside: my calendar is now fuller than ever. Jerks.

Dropbox stores my entire Mac documents directory and having it on my iPhone means I'm only ever a network connection and a few taps away from getting to all my stuff, at any time, any where.

1Password is the only way I can mediate the constant battle between convenience and security. My database lives in Dropbox so I can have strong passwords at home and while on the go.

Elements is how I edit text on iOS. It stores in Dropbox so it doesn't matter where I am, I can pick up and keep working. I can even use Dictation to input ideas on the road. It's my memory alpha.

Screens lets me VNC into my Macs from my iPhone or my iPad. That it works at all is magic. That it works in so simple, elegant a way is more than magic. (Science!)

The iMore app, self-serving as my including here may sound, is something I use constantly to keep track of the site I run and interact with my community I serve.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Letterpress. That damn Loren Brichter has stolen more hours of sleep from me this year than any other developer. He also did it with yet-another trend-setting design, a delightful experience, and a system that doesn't feel like it's gouging or conning me.

What is the app you are still missing?

Whatever is next! I have a ton of great apps, many of which are incredibly clever ways to solve incredibly common or complex problems. But imagination is limitless, and I'm always on the lookout for even better apps that do things in even better ways.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

Nearly constantly! When I'm out, I'm looking at it all the time, and when I'm home, it's still how I glance at notifications. I might need an intervention. Not that I want one.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Simplicity. It's beautifully yet unobtrusively designed and it powers fantastic software and services that are highly discoverable and accessible and have changed the way I live my life.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I'd like to see the next generation of user interface. We -- every user of every device by every platform owner -- are stuck in an era of pull data where we have to hunt down icons or widgets or apps to find our data and act on it. It's time to jump ahead again. It's time to go to push data. It's time for our data to come to us.

I want actionable notifications where I can respond to messages inside the alert, or reset counters, or play/pause music, without switching apps or control schemes. I want inter-app communication so the stuff I need follows me where ever I am. I want a unified view of all my messages, regardless of whether they're SMS, email, Twitter, or whatever, and all my schedules/reminders that are easy to get to and act on. And I want a simple, unified gesture navigation system to help me get around even faster. Demanding much?

Anything else you'd like to share?

Yeah, my Home screen is almost completely stock. Hi, I'm Captain Default, have we met?

Seriously, though, I have a bunch of devices for testing a bunch of different things, I restore them often, and I frequently use them to screenshot help articles. Default is the easiest way to always know what's where.

Now if MacSparky ever asks for second screen shots...

Thanks Rene

Home Screen: Thanh Pham


This week's home screen comes to you courtesy of Thanh Pham (Twitter) from AsianEfficiency. I've long been an admirer of Thanh's and his excellent content. I was fortunate enough to meet him this January at Macworld and found out that in addition to being a really smart guy, he's also a really nice guy. Also, remarkably, he lives in the same county as me and we've never had dinner. We're going to fix that. Thanh, show us your home screen.

Thanhs phone.jpg

What are some of favorite apps?


This app is a must-have. I almost browse more in 1Password than I do in Safari.

Air Playit

I have a lot video courses on my Macbook that I want to access with my iPhone and iPad. Instead of syncing the video files (which can be big) I like to stream them to my iDevice. So whenever I'm in bed or on the couch, I can pull out my iPhone, pick a video, stream it onto my iPhone and continue learning.

Habit List

I'm always experimenting with my habits. Sometimes I'll add or change multiple habits at the same time so having an app to track my progress is great. Over the years I've tried many different ones but I like Habit List the most.


Do I really need to say more? It’s the best task manager out there. Period.


I'm pretty new to listening to podcasts and I've found that Downcast appeals to me the most. Design is really important to me and this app is the best designed out of all podcast apps (just play with a couple gestures to see why).


I do a lot of reading so Instapaper is a must-have. Whenever I get a chance, I like to catch up with my articles in my inbox.


This is my go-to app for capturing. It's fast, simple and you can easily store your notes in the right places. I'll often use this too for dictating my thoughts because it's so easy afterwards to get it stored in OmniFocus or Evernote.


Simply the best twitter client out there.


A gorgeous weather app that gets the job done. I mostly use this app just because it's so beautiful.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Kingdom Rush

It's not on my home screen for a good reason. If you want to throw productivity out the window, this is the tower defense game you must have. You have been warned.

What is the app you are still missing?

I've tried a bunch of fitness apps for tracking progress, nutrition and measurements but none have really won me over. There are a lot of apps that excel at one thing but there is no app that does it ALL really well. I just want to easily track my progress, know how many calories I had today, track my weight, body fat and water weight without much effort. Integration with Siri would be really nice to have so I can just say what I did and ate, and have it all processed for me.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad? During the hours I'm working, maybe once an hour. I try to hide my phone whenever I'm engaged at work. However, as soon as I take a break or call it a day, I'm constantly on my phone.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad? I really like Siri. I use this feature a lot for sending texts, starting a timer, weather forecasts, reminders and directions.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change? I would like the idea of "charging your phone" to be non-existent. It's something you shouldn't have to think or worry about.

Another issue is iOS. I got an iPhone the first day it came out and I have never used another phone since then. However, with the lack of iOS innovation sometimes I feel like I've been using the same phone for a decade. There are a lot of opportunities for iOS to be even better, e.g. customizing the look and feel, lock screen utilities, customizing gestures and much more.

Anything else you'd like to share? Thanks for having me! I really love your home screen series because I get to see how other people use their iDevices and I always learn something new. I hope I did the same for someone else.

Thanks Thanh

Home Screens: Katie Floyd


In April 2009, I started a podcast with Katie Floyd (blog) (twitter) and over the past (nearly) four years it's been nothing but fun. This week I asked Katie to come back to share her updated home screen.

Katie Homescreen.PNG

What are some of your favorite Apps?

The Replacements:

I’ve replaced many of the default Apple Apps with third party replacements. For example, Fantastical has become my Calendar replacement, Evernote my notes replacement and Calcbot my Calculator replacement. I feel all these apps offer benefits far above and beyond the built-in Apps. As I’ve spoken about several times on Mac Power Users, Evernote has become my paperless filing cabinet, my pin-board and so much more. I love Fantastical so much on my Mac, it was a natural fit for the iPhone, the ability to enter (or dictate) appointments using natural language is like magic. Although I originally bought Calcbot for the iPad, it was such a great calculator, I figured why not use it as my default on the iPhone?


Lose It! - Keeping with the theme of our Geek Fitness show - Lose It! has become an essential part of my nutrition and exercise program. Logging my food intake is the difference between having an on-track week and a wasted week. This App has to be on my home screen where it stares at me each time I unlock the phone and reminds me to log my food.

1Password - How many more good things can I say about 1Password? I have no idea what any of my passwords are to any services because they’re all in 1Password. It’s absolutely essential to my workflow. Version 4.0 is fantastic, I especially love the additions of being able to generate passwords within the App and the improvements to the web browser.

Day One - Day one has become my professional journal that I use for logging my work activities, meeting notes, conferences etc. I’ve never really gotten into the idea of a personal diary, but a professional one has stuck. It’s helped me keep better track of all the random notes at the office, improved my billing by keeping a log of my activities and helped communication with my staff because I can export and send them a day or an entry. Day One on the iPhone means I can log tasks when I’m out and I don’t have to remember to enter them when I’m back in the office.

OmniFocus/Reminders - I’m not sure what else I can add here that hasn’t already been said other than I think there’s a place for both. I use Reminders as a place for quick lists I don’t want cluttering up OmniFocus (grocery lists and the like) and OmniFocus for managing life tasks and projects.

Drafts - This is probably the App I want to integrate more fully with my workflow. Right now I’m just using it as a quick entry point to send information to other places like Dropbox, Evernote or Day One. But I know it’s capable of so much more. I really want to dig further into this App and the possibilities. For now, it’s enough to earn a spot on my home screen.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I’ve never been into gaming, you won’t find a single game on my iPhone. But I love Twitter and of all the Apps I’ve tried Tweetbot is by far my favorite. While I don’t post much to Facebook, I do use it to keep up with whats going on in the lives of friends and family. So both apps have earned a spot on my home screen.

I do have an “Entertainment” category of Apps on my second screen which primarily include audio and video apps like ABC Player, NBC, 5by5 Radio, Songza, Pandora and Amazon Instant Video.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

Constantly. It’s in my pocket, my purse, my briefcase or sitting on the desk next to me. If I get more than a few feet away from my iPhone I start to go through withdraw. That’s not a problem, right?

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Having my life in my pocket. It’s my communication device, my research assistant, my secretary and entertainment hub all in one. It’s only been six years and I can’t imagine my life without it.

Anything else you would like to add?

When I sit with my Muggle friends and family I’m shocked to see how many aren’t using some of the basic features of the iPhone and are putting their data at risk. MacSparky readers understand the importance of activating services like iCloud backup, automatic passcode lock, Find My iPhone, Photostream and sync with cloud services. The general population just doesn’t get this, so do a good deed and educate them. Or, do what I do sometimes and just turn these services on when they aren’t looking. They’ll thank you later.

Thanks Katie

Katie Pg 2.PNG

Home screens: MacSparky

David Sparks of the North.jpg

I was looking at the wealth of home screen posts going back to December 2009 and it occurred to me I've never posted my own home screen. Well gang, here you go.

david sparks home screen.jpg

On The Dock


I need a calendar app in my dock because I often need my calendar. I've got this on-again off-again relationship with Apple's calendar app. I know there are better solutions but at the end of the day I'm pretty scatterbrained and having the date in my dock is useful.

Drafts(App Store)

I've written about Drafts before. Plenty. Drafts is the ultimate text capture tool but does so much more. I use it with the keyboard and Siri all the time. Moreover, Drafts just keeps improving with an increasing number of export and automation features.

OmniFocus (App Store)

My precious OmniFocus.


Well … it is an i"Phone".

On the Home Screen

I love my iPhone 5 but I also love having a little empty space on my home screen. I emptied out the bottom row a few months ago and now I'm used to it that way. I'm also very specific about App placement. The Camara is always top right, Email is always top left. I've played with alternative camera apps but the launch speed of the native app trumps their additional features.

Tweetbot and Netbot (Tweetbot App Store) (Netbot App Store)

There are a lot of great Twitter apps but Tweetbot is my favorite. I like the little delightful bits of the interface and the way everything syncs across Mac and iOS.

Calcbot (App Store)

Calcbot is another great Tapbots app. It's a friendly calculator with great sound effects. Yes. I said that.

Reeder (App Store)

RSS feeds are my dirty habit. I try to keep the list small but I still find myself checking it several times a day. For this, I use Reeder on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Instapaper (App Store)

I know there are other read-it-later services but I love the way Marco Arment sweats all the details. Instapaper is, for me, a triage of sorts where articles get routed to Evernote, OmniFocus, Reading folders, and the trash. I also pay the monthly $1 subscription.

WriteRoom (App Store)

I have an ongoing battle between WriteRoom and Notesy for syncing my nvALT text files from my Mac. Currently I'm using WriteRoom because it is so damn fast at syncing. (As an aside, sometimes I'll also run an instance of Notesy just syncing to my current Field Guide files through Scrivener on my Mac.)

Byword (App Store)

Byword is where I keep anything I'm currently writing on. I love the iCloud sync and the simple UI. It just works.

Downcast (App Store)

I originally used Instacast. I paid for the app and the in-app upgrades but they made changes to the UI and I never got used to it. Moreover, the icon was about the same color as the Music and Reader apps, which led to me sometimes hitting the wrong one. (I know how ridiculous that sounds.) So I tried Downcast about six months ago and it stuck with me, immediately.


I know a lot of nerds put the Music app on a second page but I really love music.

1Password (App Store)

Agile's done such an amazing job with version 4. I use this app probably more than I use Safari since it logs me in so efficiently and the in-app browser is so good.


I'm a fiddler with iPhone settings so I keep it handy. It would be nice if I could use Siri to do some of the most common tasks, like toggle Bluetooth and WiFi.

A Word about Badges.

I don't like them. It feels like my iPhone is yelling at me. I turn badges off on just about every app that has them. I even turn them off on the email client. (Actually, I especially turn them off on the email client.) I've deleted apps that made too much a chore out of turning off their badges. In OmniFocus, I turn off all badges except "Due". If OmniFocus lights up a badge, I know I have troubles.

The Second Page

I do seem to collect apps. My second page is a group of alphabetized folders with apps that I occasionally use or am trying out.

david sparks page 2.jpg
lock screen.jpg

My Lock Screen

I rather like my lock screen. The image was created by a friend of mine, Gabe Wilson. You can download it with the below link.

Make me a Pirate (download)