home screens

Home Screens - Ian Byrd

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.


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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

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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.

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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.

Home Screen: Sam Spurlin

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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.

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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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Chrome

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.

Listary

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.

1Password

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.

Maps

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.

Mail

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.

Calendar/Fantastical

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.

Forecast

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.

Drafts

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).

Instagram

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

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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.

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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.

Entertainment:

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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What are some of favorite apps?

1Password

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.

OmniFocus

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

Downcast

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).

Instapaper

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.

Drafts

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.

Tweetbot

Simply the best twitter client out there.

Weather+

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

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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.

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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?

Favorites:

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

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Home screens: MacSparky

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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.

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On The Dock

Calendar

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.

Phone

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.

Music

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.

Setting

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.

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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)

Home Screen: Mike Rohde

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This week's home screen comes from my pal Mike Rohde, (Twitter) (Website), the father of Sketchnoting, founder of the Sketchnote Army, and a recent guest on the Mac Power Users. So Mike, show us your home screen.

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What are some of your favorite Apps?

I have many favorites, not all of which are represented on my home screen, so I'll talk a little about my home screen first and then mention a few standouts used more occasionally, but still useful when needed.

Safari & Mail - both stock apps which work well and seem to be the glue of my workflow on the iPhone. I'm either viewing or sending information with these two, unglamorous as they are. Still, they are great, workhorse tools for me.

Instapaper - This is where I send many of the longer reads I encounter on Twitter, in Reeder or in email. It's a great reading environment and has been a staple on my home screen for a long time now.

I will admit to having no organization in Instapaper whatsoever. It's a means to an end, really - if I like something there, I might Pinboard or email it to someone, or tweet it out. So I don't spend any time with folders. But I love this app. Reeder - Five years ago I spent all of my time reading RSS feeds on the Mac, using NetNewsWire. When I moved to the iPhone for reading RSS, which was a slow transition, I eventually settled on Reeder, after trying some other apps out. I appreciate the minimalist UI of the app and how I'm able to move articles around in Google Reader, Instapaper, Twitter, email and Pinboard. It's great to have the synchronicity with the iPad and Mac apps as well — something I appreciate in a few apps I use.

Tweetbot & Netbot - I keep these together as I spend time in both pretty regularly. Right now I spend more time in Tweetbot because of my book release late last year — sharing info about the book, responding to readers and also heavy commentary during the NFL season on my team, The Green Bay Packers and other teams too.

In that specific instance, the Tweetbot feature of being able to follow a specific list as your main stream has become invaluable. When I watch and comment on a game, I switch my timeline to the Football list I've built, which shows people I've marked as interested in or commenting on NFL games. It works great.

As for my followers who could care less about NFL tweets, Tweetbot has a nice mute feature which I am aware of, but have never used. Still, it's good to know this feature is available.

I've appreciated the features in Tweetbot to the point that when I tried to use the stock Twitter app, I get frustrated. I've removed that stock app from my iPhone because it got so little use, once Apple integrated Twitter accounts into iOS.

Finally, I like the gestures Tweetbot and Netbot offer. I probably use a fraction of what is available, but for what I use, I like those options.

Listary - This is a simple app that uses the Simplenote database and plain text files to create to-do lists. What's even better is the sharing feature that lets me share a shopping list with my wife and the copy of Listary on her iPhone.

I can load up items I need through the day and then pick them up — my wife can add to them as well. I've even seen her add items while I was at the store shopping. The lists are just Simplenote files and can easily be edited in Simplenote as well.

Maps - I actually like Apple's mapping, though I only occasionally use them. I do miss the Google Maps transit maps — those have been incredibly handy when I've used public transport in other cities. I'm a fan of the Apple turn-by-turn UI and feature, and have used that more than I would have expected. Fortunately it hasn't sent me into a river yet. :-)

Now that Google has a standalone app, I'll likely use that when I need to travel by bus or train in other cities, or until Apple adds a transit option.

Messages - Useful for the everyday texting I do with my wife, father and work colleagues. Like Mail it just does the job. Recently I've sorted out Messages on the Mac and really like having access to messaging wherever I am.

Camera - With the iPhone 4S, I've switched back to the stock camera app, because it's become so quick. I do have Camera+ on the phone and sometimes use it to process photos, but felt it had become too slow for quick images.

I also like the stock camera app because it drops an original in my photo collection and photostream and if I use the image in Flickr, Camera+ or Instagram, I always have the original shot to fall back on.

1Password - This is a great tool for mostly occasional use on the iPhone, typically for logins when I'm on another machine, key codes for door locks and things like that. I don't use it here as heavily as I do on the Mac, but I love that the key database syncs via Dropbox.

Flickr - This is the newest addition to my home screen, replacing Instagram in the same spot. I wasn't pleased about the licensing and rights issues around Instragram recently, and have been a Flickr guy for many years now. I was excited to see the app updated and the ability to both share my photostream and sets and see others' work as well.

I've moved the most recent Instagram shots over to Flickr and will eventually move them all over, and find it fun to play with the editing and filtering features in Flickr.

Instacast - I am a huge podcast listener, with a 25 minute commute into work and often 35 minutes back home, Monday through Wednesday. I've got a backlog of podcast right now, as I've recently added some new podcasts to my queue and am in the process of shifting and settling on a new list of regulars with a few stalwarts that will never get removed.

I also listen to podcasts when I walk the dog, when I shovel snow or mow the grass, wash dishes or even on my Jambox while I give kids baths. It's great to have such a wide variety of voices and content available these days.

Day One - This app is a recent move to the home screen, ever since the iOS and Mac apps were updated to include photos, weather, location data and other features. I love that these all sync between devices (iPhone, iPad and Mac) so that I can start an entry with a photo on the iPhone in the morning, and finish the entry at night on the Mac or iPad.

I'm still not as regular with my diary entries as I wish I were, however, this app has made me much, much more regular in my day capture than before. I love the app.

Nike+ Running - This is an app I've been using for walking my dog at night. I'll fire it up and the app tracks my "runs" which in this case are walks — I really love the GPS tracking that identifies the route taken and even uses a heat map style color coding system to show where I walked quickly, slowly or was stopped.

The data is synced to my Nike+ account, so I have access on the web, though most of my use of the data is right on the phone. I can see how far I've walked, how fast my mile is and it tracks goals and gives badges for achievements.

Eventually I am looking at a Fitbit Flex or Nike Fuelband, but for this purpose the app works just fine for my simple needs and it seems to motivate me to walk.

OmniFocus - Super productivity app that I really like and am using more this year. I primarily use it on the Mac, though it's handy to have with me on the iPhone for entering tasks or adding new ones as I think of them.

The iPhone app's Forecast View is especially helpful for looking ahead quickly and seeing what's on the horizon. I'm hoping this feature gets added to OmniFocus 2.0 for the Mac.

Phone - Basic phone app that works fine, but nothing super special.

Simplenote - A great app I find more useful every day. I use it in conjunction with JustNotes on the Mac, where I track all sorts of stuff — Sketchnote Handbook reference, press mentions, reviewer name and addresses, along with thoughts I have on the go, recipes for food I like to prepare, and whatever else I need to quickly store.

It also provides a database for Listary to work, which is a great symbiotic relationship.

Fantastical - This is also a recent addition to the home screen, replacing Agenda. I really like the natural language feature for adding events and integration with Siri as well. The Week View bar up top is also a great way to look ahead - reminds me of Forecast in OmniFocus.

Other apps of note:

iA Writer - Great app for writing on the iPhone in a simple, focused environment that also has a corresponding iPad and Mac client.

Quotebook - Wonderful app for capturing quotes I get in email or see on Twitter.

Pandora - When I want to get into a groove for creating, I like to fire up a station in Pandora and just let it roll. Last year I upgraded to Pandora One and love commercial free mixes.

Squarespace - Nice little app for checking stats and approving/replying to comments. I've done some posting from this app on the iPhone or iPad, but prefer the keyboard on my Mac.

Pear Note - Handy note-taking app on the iPhone and iPad, with audio recording and sync capabilities that also connects up with my Mac's version via Dropbox or iCloud.

Dropbox - More useful than I would have expected for viewing and sending files.

GoodReader - My go-to PDF reading app on the iPhone and iPad.

Bloom - Coffee timer I use for AeroPress, Pourover and French Press.

Mention - An app that I track mentions of The Sketchnote Handbook with. Service is web-based and has a Mac client so I can see what mentions have come in anywhere I am.

ooTunes - I use this to tune into terrestrial radio streams for sporting events.

Square Register - Just picked up a Square reader and this app on the iPhone and iPad so I can sell copies of my book when I travel to events.

Tripit - When I travel, this app combined with the TripIt Pro service is invaluable. Keep track of my flights, hotel and in-between travel, along with maps of cities and airports.

Minimal Folio - Great app for giving presentations from on the go.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Casual gaming, which when it happens is either Letterpress, Angry Birds or Armageddon Squadron, an old WWII fighter pilot game on the iPhone.

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

I use my iPhone constantly through the day — email, Twitter and Reeder in the morning, podcasts or music for the drive to and from work, and other uses all day long.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

My favorite feature of the iPhone and iPad is the portability and power in an elegant package. I'm sometimes shocked at the power I now have in my pocket to do so much — the version of myself from 20 or even 10 years ago would be dumbfounded to learn that the future me would have a phone more powerful than the Mac I was using to design logos with.

I learned how valuable the iPad could be through the process of writing The Sketchnote Handbook. I used it to write the manuscript with a Bluetooth keyboard, for reference as I sketched the book, to edit scripts and as a teleprompter when shooting the book's videos and as a testing device when I loaded the final PDFs for review.

Probably the secret, underlying feature that makes them most valuable is the long battery life, particularly on the iPad. It's become a serious creating machine for writing and concepting because I can spend a day traveling or at a cafe and never think about battery.

Anything else you would like to add?

David, thank you for making a space with the home screen series where users can share how they apply these amazing machines we have in their own lives. I've subscribed to the series and will look forward to reading back and seeing new pieces appear in the future.

Thanks Mike.

Home screen: David Chartier

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As I prance through the Internet, I keep noticing that articles I particularly enjoy have David Chartier in the byline. David (Web) (Twitter) is a freelance writer who frequently contributes to some of the best tech sites, like Macworld and Ars Technica. David also does work with AgileBits, publishers of my beloved 1Password. David, I believe, is also the first guest to share his iPad mini home screen (though I suspect he won't be the last). So David, show us your home screen.

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What are some of favorite apps?

How much time do we have? Let's see, Evernote, Flipboard, Tumblr, Drafts, Day One, TextExpander, and Writing Kit off the top of my home screen. If I can diverge from the iPad for just a second, I also have to mention KitCam for iPhone. It feels like the epitome of everything we've learned about and want from a mobile camera for photos and videos.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Right now I'd have to say Angry Birds: Star Wars. I know we're all probably sick to death of them, but adding the Star Wars characters created some fun new game mechanics that I am fully prepared to admit have convinced me to in-app purchase all the levels.

What is the app you are still missing?

A to-do app for things and places. I have Things, I might switch back to OmniFocus, but I want an app for collecting books, movies, music, places, and other types of things that I want to try. This app needs to understand and display metadata about the thing I want to try. I want album art, movie ratings, Foursquare-like photos of the European city to which I want to travel with my wife… not just a list of names and checkboxes. Good idea David.

Springpad is a kitchen-sink Evernote competitor that works some metadata magic. It's close, and its iOS apps are great and getting better so I might try it again for what I'm talking about. But I would prefer an app tuned for this specific purpose, and ideally not supported by advertising (or likely to be). Recall for iPhone is getting there, and Done Not Done adds some light, social smartness to that whole thing. But I still feel like my Moby App is out there… eluding me. Taunting me.

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

Is this a trick question? Ok, I should probably break it down. My iPhone? Constantly. I keep it with me as a scratchpad for ideas (Drafts, Evernote, and Things), or to limit my social media usage when I really need to hunker down. Or simply as a flashlight to get around the house at night and to take the dogs out since I am often a night owl, my wife is a light sleeper.

When it comes to my iPad, it's different. I've grown to love the portability and simplicity of iOS for many of the tasks for which it suits me, like reading, writing, outlining, basic sketching, researching (thanks to Writing Kit's built-in browser), and more. That said, I'll admit my Mac is still better for some tasks and situations, so I'd say my general work day is split about 80/20 Mac and iPad, maybe 85/15. But when it comes to after hours or anything that doesn't absolutely require a Mac, I reach for my iPad more and more these days. Walking out of the house with nothing but a small, incredibly light satchel containing an iPad and maybe my Logitech Tablet Keyboard is incredibly liberating.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

That it can become any feature. The iPad and iPhone are designed to be blank canvases, from the first line of code to the final line drawn by Jonathan Ive. Whether I want to write, or tinker with my music and singing hobby, or dust off the drawing skills of my multimedia design degree, my iOS device becomes entirely devoted to that purpose with a single tap. It's been five years and I'm still impressed by this aspect of the experience and platform that Apple built, and the immense creativity developers show in harnessing it.

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

I would iterate iOS faster and add a layer for power users. As much as I love iOS, parts of it really do feel like they've stalled or fallen behind. iOS releases have become one major X.0 release per year, a couple of security fixes to follow, and then nothing until the preview of the next big X.0, then the release of said next X.0.

I really do think there is room for some kind of a "pro user" layer to iOS. Maybe it could be a giant red button, buried deep within Settings.app, which warns the user that they forfeit all software support for the remainder of their device's warranty (but total hardware failure could still be covered if you have AppleCare+). The details are negotiable.

But utilities like TextExpander, Pastebot, and everything else handicapped by sandboxing and other iOS rules are incredibly useful. There has to be a way iOS can be safe and secure for the vast majority of users, yet offer the extra power for users that can knowingly harness it.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Thanks a ton for inviting me to this series. Be excellent to each other.

Thanks David

Home screens: James Coleman

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James Coleman (blog) is a friend and local with me here in Orange County. James is owner and founder of TechRoom, an Orange County California based technology service business that has expertise in both Windows and Mac, and is also an Apple Authorized Service Provider. I first learned of James when an Apple Genius told me to take my sick Mac to his shop. So James, show us your home screen.

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What are some of favorite apps?

My favorite apps are either really innovative and solve some major problem for me or are well designed, or sometimes both. The absolute best ones are rock-solid services that integrate forward for the iPhone owner via a well-designed app. Box.com comes to mind. I use Box.com’s Enterprise service for business, and also for personal use. Box.com as a tool is part of my paperless strategy. Their app on the iPhone and iPad is great, and the app ensures that my iPhone is my portal to all my documents from anywhere in the world.

I’m an Omnifocus junkie. To me it’s probably the best app on the iPhone, period. I could live without everything else, but I won’t go a day without Omnifocus. I have a lot on my plate being a husband, a father, a business owner and an entrepreneur (mostly in that order). I get a lot out of the app because I spent a lot of time getting my personal operating model in order (years). In fact, once I really experienced the actual yield of time and effectiveness back to my personal life, I spent a few months crafting a game plan to use Omnifocus as a business development and business management tool. I tried Salesforce.com out but their system forced me to do things their way, and it didn’t integrate with anything else.

I really dig Line2. When I’m in the US, it means I have two phone numbers on my iPhone, so I don’t ever have to worry about personal versus business. And when I’m over in Japan – like I am right now as I write this - my US iPhone rings right through onto my Japanese iPhone, even if I’m on 3G, and the voice quality is awesome. The interface could be better, but Line2 got the back end network right. For $10/month, it’s a really awesome service made possible by the app.

I love Wikiamo. I’m old enough to remember sitting for hours in front of my dad’s Encyclopedia Brittanica, and spending my summers in libraries going from aisle to aisle, connecting dots as one book triggered interest in another topic. Now I can look up almost anything via Wikipedia, and Wikiamo is a great, super clean interface.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I had to think about this question quite a while. Every time I discover a really amazing new app, I keep telling myself it’s good living in the future. I’m still waiting for my RocketMan jetpack and self-driving car, but I’ll take what I can get.

My guilty pleasure is my Japanese app. During my undergraduate degree I carried around a Kanji dictionary that must have weighed two pounds. It was a huge hardback book designed to help you look up characters by their parts (called radicals). The electronic versions were really useless to me, being a foreigner without a Japanese background. Now I have Japanese, which is awesome in that I can handwrite characters and it will automatically look them up. I went from a two pound book to about 200 megabytes. Isn’t it great living in the future?

What is the app you are still missing?

What I think I’m missing is a really good image recognition app that would provide a similar functionality to Google’s “search by image” capability. It would be awesome to integrate that kind of capability into an app like Wikiamo. In fact, yesterday I was having trouble with one Kanji and it would have been great to take a picture of it and have it return a hit for me. The various Goggles apps out there currently don’t do a good job of this.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I really like the form factor. I’ve decided I’m not getting cases anymore. Apple did a great job engineering the iPhone 5 well enough to take a reasonable level of daily use, including the occasional small slip and drop. I do use a screen protector, because it’s still too susceptible to scratches. My next favorite feature, as small as it is, is the reversible lightning port. Imagine how many millions of hours of time have been spent fussing with cables because the inventors of the USB 2 and 3 ports didn’t execute on a little detail like that.

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

  1. The absolute first thing that comes to mind is a data restoration verification. I think there should be a higher level of accountability for iCloud backups.

  2. I want a display that has the same durability of sapphire crystal. I think a touchscreen with the same resistance to scratches as my Omega Seamaster would rock. The current display scratches way too easily. To me, this is a major weakness of the iPhone, including the 5.

  3. I would get rid of AppleCare+ and simply do what Bose does exceedingly well: Offer the customer a replacement and upgrade program for the life of the phone without having to buy an option to replace.

  4. I would leverage Apple’s power in the market to influence its channel of cell phone service companies to stop some ridiculous and often punitive practices. For example, even though the new Verizon version of the iPhone 5 is unlocked and referred to as a “world phone”, some cell phone companies Apple does business with pretty much ruin any chance of the consumer benefiting from it.

Home screens: Don Southard

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Writer and programmer Don Southard (Twitter) is someone to watch. He recently released his Watermarker App and I really like his writing at MacStories. Today Don was kind of enough to share his home screen.

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What are some of your favorite apps?

When it comes to iOS apps, I am addicted to the Productivity category in the App Store. You won't find many games on my phone. As of writing this, the only game currently on my phone is Kingdom Rush (an insanely hard Tower Defense game). I am pretty sure I have tried almost every todo app available and a part of me has loved every one of them. However, only the best ones stay on my iOS devices and I have no qualms deleting apps that don't make the cut. Some of my favorite apps include OmniFocus, Drafts, Pythonista, and Launch Center Pro. I use Pythonista for scripting simple actions like uploading images to a web server and I use Launch Center Pro for quickly launching those scripts. OmniFocus and Drafts have also become reliable staples in my iOS workflows. I have an IT day job in addition to my blogging and software development projects so I almost always have a lot going on, OmniFocus is my trusted system that keeps me on track. Drafts is my go to solution for text notes. At one time I tried to keep every note and sync them back to my Mac with Dropbox. I quickly realized that I didn't care about these scraps of information long term, so for me, Drafts app was a perfect solution for working with quick one-off notes.

Despite the amount of work I can get done on my phone, my most used app is more of a distraction. It is a wonderful Twitter client called Tweetbot. No matter what I am doing on my phone, it is a guarantee that I will check Tweetbot at least once before setting it back down. I truly love being apart of the Mac community and our connection is primarily through Twitter so having a reliable client that I enjoy using is very important to me. Tweetbot fulfills my every requirement of a great client.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure would have to be Rdio. I enjoy being able to stalk my friends music habits which is both fun and addicting. I have found some really great albums through Rdio's social integration. Music helps keep me motivated while I'm working, I even have a specific playlist just for when I'm writing code. It is a great service that allows me to keep music locally and in the cloud, yet it stays synched across all of my devices.

What is the app you are still missing?

In a perfect world, the one app I would love to see on iOS is Alfred. I have no idea what that would look like or how it would function but no other app has changed the way I work like Alfred has and I would love to have that experience on a mobile device. I know Apple has strict rules in place that would prevent a powerful app like Alfred from running on iOS but a guy can dream right?

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

I wish the iPhone had some way to measure that because I would love to know, The number would likely be astronomical. I am constantly checking my phone, responding to emails or iMessages. Even at home on the couch, my iPhone is never further than my pocket. My iPad on the other hand, rarely gets touched. I am one of the few that have yet to find a good use for the iPad that isn't better suited for either my MacBook or iPhone.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

My favorite feature, without a doubt, is the Verizon LTE in the iPhone 5. I was a long time AT&T customer until I jumped ship to Sprint with the promise of unlimited 3G data. I had such a horrible experience with speed and connectivity that I lunged at the opportunity to be on Verizon's LTE network when upgrading to the iPhone 5. It is really quite amazing to have a device in my pocket with Internet speeds twice that of my home Cox Cable Internet. Also, the Retina display and AirPlay are two very close runners-up.

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

I would personally change the "cold shoulder" attitude that Apple has been giving to power users over the past couple of years. I would focus some of Apple's resources towards revitalizing both the Finder and Terminal. I would extend Applescript, not deprecate it. I would revert Apple's stance on sandboxing Mac apps but still maintain the Developer ID program. I am a Mac nerd at heart and I would bring that characteristic back to the Mac platform if I had the opportunity to run the company.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I would just like to thank you David for inviting me to share my home screen and for letting me talk about some of the apps I use everyday.

Thanks Don.

Home Screens: DaisyDisk's Taras Brizitsky

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As we enter the new year, I'm going to be posting these home screens more consistently. This week I'm featuring Taras Brizitsky (Twitter), one of the smart fellows behind my favorite Mac drive management app, DaisyDisk. So Taras, show us your home screen.

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What are some of favorite apps?

There're many… 1Password (version 4 looks incredible), Deliveries (I rely on it for tracking packages from eBay), Buy Me a Pie (the best grocery list I've used), Panamp (music), Light (yes, it's a flashlight app; I also have a good "hardware" one), Verbs (IM), Partly Cloudy(weather forecast), Fantastical, Chrome, Tweetbot, Reeder, Sparrow

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Letterpress (you won't tell anyone, right?).

What is the app you are still missing?

I'm still looking for good music and video players which are not chained to iTunes. I just want to listen to the music on the go, not sync, re-sync or move my music collection to iTunes (which doesn't play well with NAS).

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

None to every few minutes, that really depends on what I'm working on. Sometimes I prefer to leave all my gadgets on a shelf.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Pocket-sized Web browser. Seriously, this covers most of my needs. My iPhone is mostly used as a web browser, news reeder, mail checker. And yes, it can make calls (killer, app, huh…). iPad works as a book and news reader and a portable game console. I tried using these devices for writing short texts or drawing and still prefer paper and good old iMac.

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

App switching. Current solution (icons) is even inferior to one of Palm's webOS. Notification Center. Either you do have widgets (weather/finance, anyone?) or you don't. Camera app. It's now incredibly cluttered. Lock screen. Another design abomination… Siri. She's unbelievably slow, stupid and useless. iCloud. There's a lot of space for improvements. App integration. Let's just face a simple fact: files need to be shared between apps. And, most of all, iBatteryLife. No complains about iPads, but hey, I don't need a razor-thin iPhone, I need it work longer.

Thanks Taras

Home screens - Oliver Breidenbach

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Every year at Macworld I enjoy reconnected with my international Mac friends. One of those people is Oliver Breidenbach (Twitter) from Boinx software who makes the trip from Germany every year. Boinx makes some of my favorite software applications including FotoMagico and iStopMotion (Mac and iPad). Moreover, Oliver has some great insight about the relationship between Apple and iOS developers. So Oliver, show us your home screen.

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What are some of favorite apps?

I don' t really have favorite apps. The thing that got my attention about iOS was at an education event the summer after the iPhone was introduced. A teacher brought a couple of students who presented the cool video stuff they were doing. I had an iPod touch and was playing around with it. I downloaded a VNC app and used it to remote control the Mac OS X servers used at the event. The kids saw me doing it and I had never seen demonstrative boredom turn into utter fascination so quickly. I knew then that this was the next big thing.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Is Email considered a guilty pleasure? ;-) (From David: Umm. No.)

What is the app you are still missing?

There really is an app for almost everything. The big gripe I have is that Apple does not allow them to collaborate with each other. Adding a soundtrack to my iStopMotion movie is a major pain. Why can't I create a soundtrack in Garageband on the iPad and simply send it to iStopMotion? If I need to change anything, why can't I send it back to Garageband? I am sure that people who get paid billions should be able to work that out.

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

I am not so much using my iPhone a discreet number of times but rather constantly. I don't use the iPad nearly as often, some days not at all, mostly because it is missing the collaboration between apps which makes it unusable for my daily work.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

When I was at the education event I was talking about earlier, I got really excited about these new post-PC devices, more excited than about anything that happened in the 15 years before in IT. The immersiveness of a touch UI is still very fascinating. But that excitement has worn off a little as I am getting disappointed with the lack of progress the platform has made in terms of using that great power to improve our daily tasks. It certainly was a smart move to get people to use it for leisure activity first, but I think it's about time that we get to use it for serious creative projects as well.

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

I would definitely drive the platform towards collaboration. Both apps and people want to collaborate. It is necessary for being creative. Imagine how useful the iPhone would be if you couldn't dial the phone numbers in your Address Book but would have to note them down on a piece of paper and type them in again in the phone app. Yet this is exactly what you have to do with most other content. The dream was to have small apps that do one thing really well, but with the current environment, every app needs to do everything. For example, instead of focusing on the task of keeping my passwords safe, 1Password also has to be a web browser so that you can actually use the passwords you stored. An HTML code editor also needs to be an image editor, an FTP/SFTP client and a webserver. To be able to make a complete movie, iStopMotion would need a video editor and an audio editor built-in. This seriously hinders innovation as we developers have to spend too much time and resources reinventing the wheel.

Also I think the business environment needs to be improved. Apple likes to point out several times on their iPhone 5 website that apps are what makes the iPhone great, and yet most apps don't seem to make enough money to even cover the development costs. Apple also likes to point out that "many of the apps are free", causing consumers, who happily just spend $500 on their new iPad, to expect that they don't have to pay for the apps. That is a big issue threatening the success of iOS in the long run. Developers need to make a living and eventually will have to look for other opportunities.

But closing on a more positive note: The iPhone and the iPad really are magical devices, making technology much more accessible and usable to a much broader range of people than the PC ever could and I really hope that we see this eventually replacing our desktop/laptop computers with their broken metaphors from the 1970s.

Thanks Oliver.

Home Screens - Myke Hurley

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Today is the first anniversary of the 70 Decibels Network, which hosts some of my favorite podcasts. In honor of this celebration, this week I'm featuring Myke Hurley's home screen. Myke (Twitter) is the co-founder of 70 Decibels, the host of CMD+Space, and an all around swell guy.

So Myke, show us your home screen.

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What are some of favorite apps?

I consider Tweebot to be the best app ever created on iOS. I use it multiple times a day, basically living inside the app when I'm away from home. Even when at home I use Tweetbot on my iPad as my main client. I basically have my iPad set up as a second screen at home. Day One has also become a new favourite of mine, it's easily one of the most beautfiully designed apps I've used and the recent addition of being able to add photos has made the it important enough to replace the phone app in my dock! I'm also a massive fan of Instacast. In my opinion it's the only way people should listen to Podcasts on iOS. And trust me, I've tried every app available.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I think Instagram has become a guilty pleasure of mine. It has recently made it's way to my homescreen as I have been using it more and more every day. I enjoy posting silly pictures of not very important things and I like to see similar updates from my friends.

Other guilty pleasures of mine are games. I have a folder on another screen full of games like Jetpack Joyride, Peggle and Angry Birds (among others). I am always on the lookout for other games to add to this list.

What is the app you are still missing?

I am a Podcaster in my free time, and I'm still on the lookout for an app that will allow me to record, edit, add shownotes and post by FTP to a podcast host—all in one. Garageband can do some of this stuff, but not all of it. Basically, the only person that would be able to create an app like this would be a Podcast producer, as they'll know exactly all of the steps needed. But it's such a niche market, that I doubt I'll ever see it.

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

I think I could easily lose count with my iPhone. At my day job I have to use a Windows PC and I have very limited access to what I can install. So my iPhone remains as my connection to the online world. It's where I'll check twitter, listen to music or podcasts, read RSS and check email. All day, every day. I dont use my iPad as much as I tend to leave it at home, but it will be in constant use during the evening.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The apps available for iOS are what stops me thinking about switching to a competing platform (for any of the reasons there may be). The developers on the iOS platform churn out absolutely top quality apps, that are lovingly designed and often solve problems I didn't even know I had

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

I think I would extend the background capabilities of third-party apps. It would be great if I could have Reeder update itself, or Instacast download all my new shows, without me needing to prompt it. I think it's about time Apple gave a little more capability to devs and trust that they will implement these features efficiently, practically and transparently.

Anything else you'd like to share?

In case anyone is interested, my background image is from the colour edition of the comic Scott Pilgrim vs the World. The image is of the character Ramona Flowers

Thanks Myke.

Home Screens: John Siracusa

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John Siracusa (Twitter) is one of my favorite people on the Internet. In addition to his legendary Mac OS reviews, John writes for Ars Technica and his podcast, Hypercritical is on that short list of shows where I never miss an episode. John's insight is just too good to miss. John also blogs on his own Hypercritical Tumblr site. So John, show us your home screen.

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Q: What are some of favorite apps?

I spend most of my time in iOS in three apps: Twitterrific, Safari, and Instapaper. While reading tweets, I send interesting links to Instapaper for later reading. I use the Gmail web interface in Safari to read my email. I actually prefer that to the native Mail application. It feels like it loads my considerable volume of email faster.

Q: Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I feel somewhat guilty every time I play Words With Friends and see the embarrassing, persistent bugs and the annoying in-game come-ons to purchase more stuff. I tried the official Scrabble app, but it was even worse. I'm sure there are other, better alternatives, but Words With Friends is where my friends and relatives play, and it's hard to dislodge them.

Q: What is the app you are still missing?

I'd really like a native iOS email client that works great with Gmail and feels faster than the Gmail web interface. Google's own Gmail app for iOS is just the web UI in a fancy wrapper. I have it installed, but it isn't drawing me away from Gmail in Safari. I had high hopes for Sparrow, but then Google bought them and stopped development.

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

I don't actually have an iPhone (though my wife does). I have an iPod touch and a retina iPad with 3G. I use the iPod touch several times in the morning and during the day. I gravitate towards the iPad at night, for reading longer items in Instapaper and watching video—usually in the HBO GO app, which stubbornly refuses to support AirPlay.

Q: What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

My favorite feature of the iPod touch is how thin it is. My wife's iPhone 4S feels like a bar of soap compared to my iPod touch. My favorite feature of the iPad is its battery life. I go days without even thinking about charging my iPad, even when watching hours of video every night.

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

I'd add iPad-style cellular data support to the iPod touch and update its internals to match the best in the iPhone (camera quality, RAM, CPU/GPU, and so on). I'd also make a cheaper, lighter, smaller iPad, and I'd start thinking about a larger, more expensive iPad.

Q: Anything else you'd like to share?

Even on an iPhone 4S or a retina iPad, iOS still feels slow to me. I hate waiting for apps to launch or for web pages to render. And I really hate it when an app is killed in the background due to RAM constraints. I can't wait for iOS hardware to get a couple of times more powerful than it is today, so things like browsing the web, reading email, and checking Twitter can all comfortably happen simultaneously without any heroic resource shuffling efforts by the OS.

Thanks John.