home screens

Home Screen: Casey Liss

Portrait.jpg

This week features Casey Liss (Twitter)(Website). Casey is a combination straight man/voice of reason on the Accidental Tech Podcast and a very nice fellow. So Casey, show us your home screen.

Photo Feb 03, 8 35 35 PM.png

Favorite Apps

My favorites are the ones I get the most use out of. That list begins with Tweetbot, which I use more than I should. I also quite likeSilo, which I use to keep shared lists with my wife; also, Check the Weather to, well, check the weather. Finally, Fantastical, which is far and away the best calendar app I’ve used.

Guilty Pleasures

Definitely GIFwrapped, which was just released. I have an unhealthy love of animated GIFs, and GIFWrapped lets you get easy access to your animated GIF folder in your Dropbox. (Because, obviously, everyone has an animated GIF folder in their Dropbox). You can copy images or get URLs in no time.

What’s Missing?

Tons of things I don’t know I need yet.

How many times a day do you use your I use your iPhone

Way, way too many. I work as a software developer, so I’m on my Mac all day long during the work day; the iPhone gets a reprieve then. Outside of work, I’m working on being content with not being actively entertained 110% of the time. As much as I love my phone, appreciating the world immediately around me is far more important.

Favorite Feature?

Absolutely its flexibility. The iPhone is truly a pocket computer. The iPhone’s lack of physical distraction from the main input device–the screen–allows it to be remarkably adaptable to any situation.

For a more boring yet concrete answer, Do Not Disturb has been wonderful for allowing more consistent sleep.

If you were the boss at Apple, what would you do?

I would love for Apple to loosen the reins a wee bit for developers. While iOS shines in large part because of its simplicity, there is so much power lurking beneath the surface, waiting to come out. Some are showing us how to make amazing things happen despite the handcuffs. That said, some proper inter-app communication could really give iOS the shove from something to work around versus something to workwith.

It’s a fine line to walk–an “anything goes” attitude would actually be terrible. However, with limits, inter-app communication could really make iOS into a workhorse.

Thanks Casey.

Home Screens: Dr. Drang

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 7.52.38 AM.png

Dr. Drang (Twitter) (Blog) is one of my favorite people on the Internet. He is a working stiff, like me, yet still makes time to write up some really useful, nerdy stuff while creeping me out on a nearly daily basis with his psychopathic snowman avatar. So Doctor, show us your home screen.

drang-homescreen.png

What are some of your favorite apps and how have they changed over the years?

So many changes since the last time. In particular, what was my (admittedly self serving) favorite app in 2011, an iPhone-formatted homemade weather webapp that still works, has since been banished to a nether screen in favor of Apple’s built-in Weather app, which been greatly improved over the past couple of years.

My old stalwarts, NotesyTweetbotReederDue, and PCalc are still there and still in the same positions. I use them all every day. Fantastical has taken over the calendar spot from Agenda, and not only because of its renowned natural language input method; I really like the compact but thorough way it presents the list of my upcoming events.

To me, the most interesting changes have been these:

  1. My recognition that I text more than I talk, so Messages should be in the Dock and Phone shouldn’t.
  2. The way podcast listening has become important enough for Downcast to displace the iPod (now Music) app in the Dock.
  3. The rise of Drafts (an upDraft?), as both a quick way to enter notes and, through the x-callback-url system, a way to dispatch text off to other apps. I now do most of my note-writing in Drafts; Notesy is more for reading.
  4. The inclusion of Pythonista. I’m continually surprised that the “locked down” iPhone has such a capable programming environment running on it.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Last time I said I was too old to feel guilty about my pleasures, and that still holds, but if I were to feel guilty, it would be for the time spent jumping from word to word in Terminology. Too often I’ve allowed it to change from a productivity app to an anti-productivity app.

I thought I was the only Terminology word surfer. Also check out Wordflex. It will ruin you. -David

What is the app you are still missing?

I’m currently on the hunt for an app to share shopping lists with my wife. There are probably hundreds of list-making apps available, but I’m very particular.

  • I need the process of making and sharing lists to be absolutely transparent for my wife, because she won’t put up with the fiddling that I would tolerate.
  • I need to be able to make and add to lists from my computer, because when I’m at my computer I want to type on a real keyboard.
  • And finally, we need to be able to print a decent looking list from the app via AirPrint. It’s all very futuristic to swipe or tap checkboxes on your phone, but for real efficiency, there’s nothing like a printed grocery list—you don’t need to scroll, you don’t have to worry about dropping it as you reach for the milk, and it never goes blank to preserve battery life.

The top candidate at the moment is 1Writer. Its list-making is almost automatic, and it produces nicely printed lists. It syncs via Dropbox, which is great, but it sometimes needs prodding to upload additions to a recently edited list. It should sync automatically as soon as you dismiss the keyboard.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

Not so much during the day when I’m in the office and at my iMac. Constantly when I’m out of the office.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

I have a computer connected to the internet in my pocket, ready to be used at any time—a device that’s smaller and more capable than any of the computers imagined in the science fiction I read as a kid.

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

We desperately need inter-app communication in iOS. In the 6+ years of the iPhone, it has raised our expectations of what a phone can do, and I don’t see how those expectations can continue to rise without a sanctioned and fully supported means of moving data between apps. I applaud Greg Pierce and every developer who supports the x-callback-url protocol, but that’s a workaround, not a permanent solution.

Thanks Doc.

Home Screens: Moisés Chiullan

58aa65e8126fc3fad904985501260bf3.jpeg

This week’s home screen features Moisés Chiullan (Webite) (Twitter), one of my favorite 5by5 hosts with shows includingGiant Size, The Critical Path, and Screen Time. So Moisés, show us your home screen.

image.png

What are some of your favorite apps?

I can’t live without 1Password, to which I have recently converted in a literally religious manner. I say prayers that I added something to it when I desperately need it. I’m dedicating part of this weekend to dumping all my remaining passwords into it. Combined use of TextExpander TouchDraftsSquarespace BlogLaunch Center Pro and Screens is the only reason I can keep up with posting content at ArthouseCowboy.com regularly (or at all), especially with the LayoutEngine integration in Squarespace’s new app. Things is the simple, straightforward, (finally) cloud-syncing to-do app that gets what I need done. The only reason I like Apple’s Mail app is that I can flip switches on or off to hide accounts that movie industry publicists send hundreds of distribution list emails to daily (thanks SXSW!), except for when I need to find a specific one.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

A tie between two games: Letterpress and vConqr (no longer available but you can get RISK). The former is great when people don’t resign or disappear on turn three, and the latter is a really basic ripoff of RISK that gets my brain back into tactical action mode.

What is the app you are still missing?

A podcast app that I don’t want to cast into the darkest corners of hell. Instacast is only there until I export my OPML data into Castro.

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

Too many and not efficiently enough. You should have asked my wife. She’d have just said “lost count”.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Over the air data sync and intra-communication of apps as implemented by third-party developers. Technically, I guess that means a wellspring of talented, smart third-party developers who are always trying be miles ahead of the curve. I wish Apple made app-to-app interaction work better from the user perspective.

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

I used to work for them, and respect NDAs even when I never expect to work for someone again…however I can say it’s inexcusable that listening to audio on my phone drains the battery completely in under a half day. If I could change one thing, it would be the 20-year-olds at the Genius Bar assuming that I have Push enabled on all my apps, a dozen Exchange accounts, and that I’m a liar and/or an idiot. Apple Stores have gotten more like sneering, cattle-wrangling hipster hangout joints and less like the oasis they used to be.

Extrapolating that as a general note, they need to focus on reinvesting into the businesses they’re in across the board before they “redefine” anything like TV and further water down their standard of “it just works”, which is now down to “it generally does what an unspecified significant amount of people will tolerate”.

Anything else you’d like to share?

In addition to The Critical Path, where I’m second banana to the inimitable Horace Dediu, I host two other podcasts on 5by5. Screen Time is a panel show that looks at all parts of the video media ecosystem, from production to consumption.Giant Size is a panel show where John Gholson and I guide new, veteran, and lapsed comics readers through characters, creators, and stories worth reading. We want to make getting into comics less intimidating. Both of them include interviews with people from across the entertainment world, from Guillermo del Toro, Peter Weller, and Star Trek designers Mike and Denise Okuda to Stan Lee and Kelly Sue DeConnick. I also recently did a pilot for a new show about the world of customer service called Thank You For Calling!, and as of this writing, it’s available as 5by5 Special #23.

Thanks Moisés

Home Screens - Serenity Caldwell

Serenity Caldwell.jpg

One of my favorite people to connect with every year at Macworld/iWorld is Serenity Caldwell (Twitter) (Website). Serenity is a regular contributor at Macworld, roller derby badass, and an ebook wizard. She knows more about creating epubs in her pinky than I know in my entire body. So Serenity, show us your home screen.

IMG_0578.PNG

What are some of your favorite apps?

I absolutely can’t get by without TweetbotFantasticalDropbox, or iBooks; and the other apps on my home screen all play vital roles, too.

My Twitter interactions are almost solely on my iPhone, so I need a client like Tweetbot to handle the load. (And the lists support! I love lists more than I probably should.) Fantastical keeps me organized, and it’s so easy to use. I even got my mother using it over Thanksgiving!

Dropbox… what can I say about Dropbox that people haven’t already said a million times? Thanks to the app, I always have the documents I need, even on the go. I’ve been knitting a lot recently, and Dropbox’s offline support is perfect for tiny knitting patterns.

iBooks is just a godsend for reading on the go. I used to be a huge book nerd growing up, and I’d always travel with at least one (if not two) books in my bag. The iPhone makes my habits a little less cumbersome, and though I seem to be one of the few, I really love reading on the Retina screen; were it not for iBooks, I don’t think I would have read half the books I did last year. (Also, it incentivizes me to read a chapter of a book while waiting in line instead of just vacantly scrolling through Twitter.)

Moves is my favorite tracker app, though I also have Pedometer++ for a more week-by-week overview. I love the way Moves tells a story with your map data and your walking patterns—it’s almost like keeping a daily journal without having to write down all the particulars. I find just following my map from a given day sparks those memories: “Oh, right, I went and ate sushi with my teammates here, and there was that terrible lounge singer…”

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

You know, I really kind of love playing with Hatch. I’m not usually a big virtual pets person, but the Hatch animations are super cute and very clever, and it’s just an incredibly well built little app.

I’ve also started using Level Money a whole lot to try and better track and curb my spending—though it was hard, during the holidays! I like the attitude it takes, though, and it feels almost like a little game: "Try to see how much money you can avoid spending throughout the week.” I wish it were a tad more flexible about being able to tag income, though—if your income changes on a given month—do a freelance gig, for example—you have to go in and manually add that to your monthly projected income, rather than have it adjust spending totals automatically.

What is the app you are still missing?

I’ve yet to find a fitness logger (for more than steps) that really catches my fancy, though I’ve got a bunch to try that I’ve recently downloaded. (FitStar and Argus, to name some.)

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

Many times. Probably too many, to be honest. One of my 2014 tech goals is to be a little less glued to the screen, a little more cognizant of the world around. It’s hard to detach, though.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

Even though most folks (including me) rarely use it as a telephone, the iPhone is still a great communications tool. I love being able to instantaneously chat with friends and family all over the globe via text messages, pictures, social networks, FaceTime… it’s incredible. I’ve taken FaceTime calls at ball parks and on (grounded) airplanes before. It really makes the device feel magical.

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

Ha ha. Gosh. Well, as a book nerd and epub enthusiast, I’d love to see more work put in on the iBooks app. Apple has taken the ebook format so far in some ways, but support on the iPhone is lackluster compared to the iPad and the Mac. I want to see active work put in on supporting iBooks Author books on the iPhone, and Apple should continue to incorporate the forward-thinking work done by the Webkit team into iBooks’s .epub and .ibooks formats.

Amen sister. Thanks Serenity.

Home Screens - Thomas Borowski

tom2013-2.jpg

This week I’m featuring my friend Thomas Borowski (Twitter). Tom lives in Bavaria where he makes and sells the GroovBoard and, appropriately, produces the ThinkMakeSell podcast. So Tom, show us your home screen.

Tom home screen.jpg

What are some of your favorite apps?

Reeder

I switched to Feedly back when Google Reader was shut down and I originally used the official Feedly app. But it had the habit of always forgetting my reading position when I switched back to it, so when the new version of Reeder came out, I switched. I actually like the Feedly app’s UI better, but Reeder is more stable.

Tweetbot

No-brainer. Looking forward to the iOS7ified version for the iPad. The old UI looks really stale now.

Drafts

The number of features in Drafts is almost insane. I use it almost exclusively for sending myself reminder emails. I used to use Captio for that, but Drafts looked so interesting I had to give it a try. I still mean to explore its features more, but for now I’m happy with just the ability to send out a quick email to myself.

1Password

Another no-brainer. It took Agile Bits a while to get everything lined up, but now there’s 1Password on the iPhone, iPad and Mac and it’s all syncing through iCloud flawlessly.

Editorial

Editorial has more or less replaced Nebulous Notes for me. I haven’t even gotten into the workflow features yet, but I love Editorial’s look and feel and the keyboard swipe cursor is genius.

Textastic

Still the best iOS code editor out there. It’s no TextMate or Sublime Text, but as iOS editors go, it’s very powerful.

PlanBe

An apparently not so well-known calendar app. Very clean design, natural language input, great week view, multiple fonts and themes, … It’s weird that this app isn’t mentioned more. I think it blows a lot of calendar apps that are reviewed everywhere out of the water.

This one’s new to me too. I’m going to try it. -David

TaskPaper

I used to be an OmniFocus user but I realized that my task management needs are actually very simple and that the GTD methodology doesn’t really work for me. So I switched to TaskPaper: One simple list per project, plain text format (very Markdown-like syntax), notes and links, has versions for iPhone, iPad and OS X and syncs through Dropbox.

TextTool

Great tool for automating text manipulation. Auto-capitalize or -camelcase, trim, wrap, sort etc. Nothing else like it. Supports x-callback-url too, so you can send text from another app to TextTool, let it do its magic and then send the converted text back to the source app. Stuff like this (and apps like Editorial) are what makes me completely giddy about the future of iOS.

Prompt

Best SSH client out there. I use this to log into my web server and, with an external keyboard, I can use tmux, vim, etc. on my Linode just like at home on my desktop Mac.

MindNode

I don’t use mindmapping all that much (I usually go straight to a list or outline), but when I do I use Mindnode. iThoughts is great too, but I prefer the lightweight UI of Mindnode. Very minimal, let’s me focus on the mindmap instead of fiddling with buttons.

CarbonFin Outliner

Again, I prefer this to OmniOutliner (which I also own) because it’s simpler. OmniOutliner is certainly more powerful, but it’s overkill for what I need. Plus I prefer to use Dropbox rather than OmniPresence. I don’t want to have a dedicated cloud account for every app I use.

PocketCasts

When I deleted Apple’s Podcasts app this is what I switched to. I think it’s the iOS podcatcher with the cleanest and most well thought-out UI (they also featured my podcast, Think, Make, Sell, in the app; gotta love that). It syncs playback positions and subscriptions via iCloud too. Sadly, there’s no Mac client, but I’m moving my podcast listening away from iTunes anyway, so I just use PocketCasts on my iPhone or iPad and send it to my stereo via AirPlay or to a Bluetooth speaker.

Penultimate

Great sketching and doodling app. NoteShelf is also great and allows you to add real text by typing, but I prefer the simplicity of Penultimate and it syncs to Evernote.

Evernote

I wasn’t an Evernote user until just recently. My Anything Bucket of choice used to be Yojimbo. But Yojimbo still only has a read-only app for iOS and the (yet another) proprietary sync solution currently only works between Macs and you need to pay for a subscription. So I’m currently in the process of moving my stuff from Yojimbo to Evernote. I’m still not 100% happy with this solution. But the only other serious option would be DEVONthink To Go, but that currently only supports Wifi sync to the desktop app (Dropbox sync is apparently in the works though).

Calca

I’m a math dunce and regular calculators creep me out. Calca is like an app version of back-of-the-envelope calculations (it’s actually called a “symbolic calculator”). You can mix natural language with variables and operators and have Calca do all the complicated number mangling. Soulver is another great tool that works in a similar fashion, but Calca let’s you use Markdown to format your calculations, which is a nice bonus.

Boxie

Dropbox should buy Boxie and throw their own app in the trash. Can’t wait for the iPad version, so I’m actually using the iPhone version in 2x mode on my iPad. Not pretty, still beats the official Dropbox app which can’t even rename files.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

In general, any kind of board game. CarcassonneCatanTicket To Ride…the iPad is just perfect for those types of games. I love Time Management games like Airport ManiaBurger Shop and the like. I still occasionally play Flight Control HD and if I want to get really hectic, Boost 2 and Super Hexagon. Also, Letterpress. But I could quit anytime if I wanted to.

What is the app you are still missing?

I’m really looking forward to Scrivener for the iPad. Writing in a Markdown editor like Editorial is fine, but for more complex writing projects (even longer blog posts) I want to be able to organize my writing, add metadata, research, attachments, etc.

I’d also love to see iPad versions of Pages and Numbers that are as powerful as those in iWork ’09 on the desktop. The 2013 versions are toys by comparison.

How many times a day do you use your iPad?

I’ve had days where I got by using the iPad exclusively. I used it for email, research, writing a blog post and even tweaking the design of one of my blogs. When I’m at my desk, I don’t use the iPad as much during the day. In the evening I’ll almost always do some reading, play a game or watch a movie.

What is your favorite feature of the iPad?

I think what I like most about the iPad is that it has rekindled my passion for computers in general. I’ve been using desktop computers since 1991 (Macs since 2002) and while I still like my Mac and can appreciate the power of a full-fledged computer, the whole desktop computing thing has become a bit stale for me. Despite all its flaws and limitations, the iPad has me excited again, especially when I try to imagine what iOS and apps will look like 5 or 10 years from now.

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

There are several things, but I’ll pick two. Allow me to geek out for a minute.

I’d add more RAM to the iPad, at least 2 GB. The iPad Air has so much raw computing power, yet its true performance potential is hampered by that one or two seconds it sometimes takes for an app I’m switching to to be ready for input. When you’re switching to an app and that app was previously kicked out of RAM because it was in the background, iOS is effectively showing you a screenshot of that app’s last state while it loads the app back into memory. The user thinks the app is there, taps, but nothing happens. It’s a frustrating experience. Doubling the RAM probably wouldn’t completely eliminate the problem, but it would surely make it happen a lot less.

The second thing I would change is to let third-party developers use Nitro, the accelerated JavaScript engine Mobile Safari uses. Because alternative browsers like Chrome and iCab or the browser built into 1Password have great feature sets, but they have to use a UIWebView and that can’t use the Nitro engine. So these apps are noticably (up to five times) slower than Safari, especially on JavaScript-heavy sites.

Anything else you’d like to share?

One of the reasons I still love using Apple stuff is that I really enjoy being part of the Apple community. I love the care indie developers put into their apps and I love exploring new ways to get stuff done on the iPad. I use Windows and Linux too, and I’m not religious about operating systems or brands; they all have their place. But the people who use Macs and iOS devices are, by and large, the friendliest bunch of geeks and regular people I have ever met.

Thanks Tom.

Home Screens: Bojan Dordevic

bojan_1.jpg

This week’s home screen features Bojan Dordevic (Twitter) from Alpha Efficiency. Did you know that AlphaEfficiency now has a magazine in the App Store? It is a great read and premiered this week. So Bojan, show us your home screen.

Bojan Homescreen December 2013.png

What are some of favorite apps?

All the apps you see on my homescreen are either the apps that I really use frequently, or the apps that I aspire to use more often. The way I see it, is out of sight, out of mind. If your app is not on my homescreen (or in my Launch Center Pro), than I won’t be using it most likely. As such, I don’t have a particular app that I find as a favorite, but I have favorites based on the functions: organizational, gateway, consumption and publishing apps.

Regarding organization I have my two personal favorites: Evernote and Omnifocus. Two apps that redefined my whole approach to computing, as well as my personal productivity. They have URL schematics that work well within each other, and because of that, they work extremely well together. My recent addition to this group would be Lift, which salvaged a large chunk of my repetitive tasks from Omnifocus, and allowed me to track my habits, with a layer of added social component, for accountability and extra layer of motivation. Pure genius of an app.

Gateway apps made my life way easier, and allowed me to create simple workflows, that otherwise would be completely impossible, as your previous guest, Mike Vardy, I am a big fan of Drafts and Launch Center Pro.

Consumption apps let me access my media. For a long while I was struggling a battle between Instapaper and Pocket, and Instapaper won, because of the design. The other consumption app would be Reeder, which lets me scan what am I going to read next. Also important in my market leadership, as I buffer the most important productivity news to readers of Alpha Efficiency.

Listening is one of the most important aspects of my iPhone, and for that purpose I use Pocket Casts and Music. All of my podcast consumption is exclusively done on the iPhone, mostly during my commutes. Native Music app became a de facto standard since iRadio was introduced. My relation to music is quite deep, and over the course of the day I spend 4+ hours listening to music while I work or commute.

Publishing apps are Byword and Pressgram, that are completely integrated with my personal blog, which I aim to completely substitute my social networking efforts. With my recent trip to Paris, I became very motivated to shoot and publish amazing photos. Pressgram coupled with Snapseed lets me edit my photography works, and quickly share them with the world on my own terms.

I second the nomination on Snapseed. Amazing app. -David

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Since I am a big fan of App.net it would definitively be Netbot, despite not being featured on the homescreen. It is lurking hidden in the Launch Center Pro, in hopes and aspirations that I will use it less (which I probably do), followed by Tweetbot, which I use less often.

What are the apps you are still missing?

My iPhone is pretty topped off. Writing a productivity blog, got me covered with review copies of most apps that I was truly aiming for. Those that didn’t reach me as a review copy I bought off. But I do miss some Omnigroup’s children on my iPad. In some time I plan on getting Omni Outliner, as I believe it will enhance my writing workflow.

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

Far too many to admit the number. For a “productivity” person, I fidget far to much with my iPhone.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Being the geek that I am, I must admit I nurture the passion for URL schematics and what they can do. I am very well aware that I am not using these features to their fullest potential, but I like to know that as my needs grow, URL schematics can save me quite some time.

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

I’d let pro users do what they want. The lock down of Apple ecosystem often led me to jailbreak my device in order to experience it’s raw power. I like what they are doing for the regular users, but I think their restrictive nature is hurting me as a power user. I understand that some people would tell me to go Android, but that doesn’t make any sense. Jailbreaking community has been responsible for the development of the iOS that we see today, and gets no credit for it. For example the “newest” control center, has been a feature of jailbreak for years now for jailbroken users, since iOS4.

I’d like to see “jailbreak” for power users, as a function and not a hack. It could be hidden or enabled for developer and experimental community. I wouldn’t mind, even if I had to pay for it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We are in the middle of the launch of Alpha Efficiency Magazine, it is designed for people who want to get the most out of their personal productivity. We aim to blend your brain power and technology, and make them work in sync. Magazine is Apple centric, and features prominent names in productivity field, starting with Daniel Gold and Augusto Pinaud.

Thanks Bojan. Good luck with the magazine.

Home Screens: Mike Vardy

201112076671.jpg

 Mike Vardy (Twitter) (website) speaks and writes about managing your time better. How appropriate then that Mike released a book this week about how we use our calendars, The Now Year, A Practical Guide to Calendar Management. In addition to being prolific, Mike’s a really kind fellow and agreed to share his home screen. So Mike, what’s on your home screen?

MikeVardy_HomeScreen2.png

What are your most interesting home screen apps?

One of them is 1Password because I’m actually using it as my main browser app now. It has all of my passwords stored in it, and the new version sports a much better browsing component. I rarely browse the Internet on my iPhone, but when I do (other than when it comes from a prompt within Dispatch, which defaults to Safari), I use 1Password.

30/30 is also an interesting choice because while I use it sparingly, it’s nice to have it there when I want to use a modified version of The Pomodoro Technique. If it wasn’t on my home screen I’d probably not use it as much.

YNAB and Neat are there for the same reason. I want to keep on top of my finances and my scannables, so having these apps front and center really helps. In fact, most things on my home screen are there because of that. And if the Reviewables folder (where all of my beta testing apps are) then I’d not put the apps through the paces nearly as often…or as well.

What is your favorite app?

Drafts, with Dispatch being a close second. I’m a big fan of “gateway” apps — apps that allow you to get in the door with something and then place that thing where you need it most with as little friction as possible. Drafts and Dispatch (along with Launch Center Pro) are the best gateway apps I’ve come across. They’re the reason I am getting so much more use out of my iPhone than ever before.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I’d say that’d be the Untappd app. I don’t use location check-in apps other than this one. Untappd is essentially a social networking app for beer drinkers, and ever since I started getting into craft beers (I’ve even started cellaring them and have been using Evernote to help out with that process) I have been using Untappd to indicate when I have a beer and what beer I’m having. Other than listening to the Mikes on Mics back catalog, it’s the only other way I track the beers I’ve had.

What is the app you are still missing?

With Drafts, Dispatch, and Launch Center Pro in my arsenal, I don’t really find myself wanting for any particular app. What I think is missing is the fact that I can’t choose to change my default mail app from the stock app to Dispatch, or the stock browser to 1Password if I want. I understand why that’s the case (or at least I think I do), but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, right?

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

Far more often than in the past – I’d say upwards of 10 times per day since I’m actually using Dispatch as my primary email app (yep, even over the one on my MacBook Air). The ability to quickly capture and shift things to where I need them to be (email tasks to OmniFocus or Asana, email information materials to Evernote, quick capture of ideas to Drafts, etc.) is what makes iOS (and my iPhone) the operating system I’m using more and more these days.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

I’d say the new Control Center feature introduced in iOS 7 is my favourite. I love that I can quickly swipe up with my thumb and activate Airplane Mode, open the calculator, and fire up the flashlight. It’s a small thing, but it’s a classic example of great UI and UX – something Apple knows a thing or two about.

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

Other than the ability to choose my own “sensible defaults” — hat tip to Patrick Rhone for that phrase — not much. That said, the default thing is pretty important (but I don’t see it changing anytime soon).

Anything else you’d like to share?

If you’re not using Drafts, Dispatch, and/or Launch Center Pro do yourself a favour and start. Any of these apps (when you take the time to set them up to meet your needs) will really change the way you use your iPhone.

Home Screen: Jeff Richardson

6a010535fde333970c015438459888970c.jpg

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.

image.png

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

Ben Color Pic.jpg

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.

131009 Home Screen.png

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

headshot.jpg

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.

IMG_1845.PNG

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.

IMG_1844.PNG

Page 2

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

photo 2.PNG

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.

Logacal

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

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

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.

Twitterific

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.

Sonos

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.

Instacast

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.

Audible

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.

Hue

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.

WeMo

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.

Remote

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.

Page 2

photo 1.PNG

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

avatar_mountains.jpeg

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.

IMG_0810.PNG

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

Smart Marketing Naples 20120103.jpg

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.

photo 2.PNG

What are some of your favorite apps?

DockWorthy

Daylite

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.

Mail

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

OmniFocus

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.

Messages

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.

Feedly

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.

iCatcher

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

NextDraft

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.

PuzzleRetreat

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

1000w.jpeg

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.

shawnblanc-homescreen.jpg

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

Photo on 4-2-13 at 1.55 PM.jpg

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.

photo.PNG

What are some of your favorite apps?

Evernote

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.

1Password

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

byrd-headshot.jpg

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.

photo.jpg

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

headshot2.jpg

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.

IMG_6030.PNG

Tweetbot

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.

Forecast

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.

Evernote

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.

Downcast

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.

Reeder

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.

Checkmark

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.

Notesy

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.

OmniFocus

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.

Fantastical

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

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

craigscott.png

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.


home-screen.png

What are some of your favorite apps?

iThoughts

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.

Flashlight

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

Kindle

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! 

1Password

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

headshot.jpg

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.

Image.jpg

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.

Evernote

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!

Spotify

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

Felix

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.

Today

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.

Simplenote

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.

Due

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

Pinbook

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.