home screens

Home Screen: Robert McGinley Myers

This week's home screen features Robert McGinley Myers (Twitter). Rob blogs over at Anxious Machine about "anxiety, technology, and scary things". I think Rob has a great voice. I really liked his recent piece on The Affordance of Intimacy and doing work on the iPad. Okay Rob, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

The apps that have had the most profound effect on how I use my iPad are Instapaper, Documents by Readdle (paired with PDF expert), Doceri, and Editorial.

I believe Instapaper (App Store) was the first app I ever bought for the iPhone, and it may have been the first app that showed me how apps could change my relationship to digital information. I had long been an avid reader of online journalism, and I had been hacking together my own ways of saving those articles for later by copying and pasting them into text documents, which I would then try to read on my smartphone. Marco Arment’s solution was so elegant that I’ve never looked back.

Instapaper still has the most options for beautiful typography, size, and spacing, and no other app does a better job of saving my place in the article. I know a lot of people have switched to Pocket (App Store), which may do a better job of parsing images and videos from a link, and I wish Instapaper would implement some form of tagging so that it would be easier for me to find articles I’ve saved, but for me there’s still no better app for simply reading.

As a college writing instructor, I also spend a huge part of my work life grading papers, and Documents by Readdle (App Store), paired with PDF Expert (App Store), has made me feel closer to and more in control of the papers I grade. I wrote about this in a blog post, The Affordance of Intimacy, but the short version is that I used to grade papers by tracking changes and inserting comments on my Mac. But PDF Expert gives me such a feature-rich experience of markup tools that I now grade everything on my iPad. And maybe it has something to do with the more direct experience of writing my comments on the screen itself, but I don’t dread the process of grading nearly as much as I used to.

One of my favorite features of PDF Expert is that you can zoom way into a document to write something, and then you have a handy little button to tap that will zoom all the way back out again. Another feature is that when you type or dictate text into a text box in the margin, PDF Expert automatically reformats the text so that it doesn’t overlap with any text in the document. I also love the seamless integration with Dropbox. My one wish is that someday Readdle will enable TextExpander snippets in the app (though I recently played with using Type2Phone to execute TextExpander snippets from my Mac to my iPad, and it works pretty well.)

Another app that has changed my work life as a teacher is Doceri (App Store) (an app I first heard about on an episode of MPU), which turns your iPad into a kind of smart-board replacement. The app pairs with a companion desktop app on the Mac (or PC) and allows you to annotate anything that’s appearing on your computer’s screen by writing on the iPad. I mainly use it in conjunction with Keynote. What I love is that I’m no longer bound merely by the content of the slide. I can put something on the screen for my students to consider, and then as we talk, I can draw and annotate the slide with whatever comes up.

Finally, I know a lot has already been written about Editorial (App Store), but I’m really not sure I would be a blogger without it. I used to contribute to a blog in my former job in public radio, but I never really blogged for myself until the summer of 2013, when I bought a book about Markdown and downloaded this app I’d read about in MacStories.

What amazed me about Editorial in conjunction with Markdown was how easy it was to read something in the attached browser, select text, quote it, and then insert a reference link, all just by tapping a few buttons. It felt like I was reaching into the web, grabbing a piece of it, and stitching it directly into my own tapestry. To me, the best blogs are records of interaction: a person reading the web and then reacting to it, adding his or her own thoughts. Editorial enables exactly that kind of blogging. I actually write more on my blog simply because I want to use Editorial more, and I can’t think of a higher complement.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

MG Siegler wrote a great post on his blog a while back about “The First App You Open in the Morning.” I remember reading it and realizing that the first app for me was always Reeder, my favorite RSS app. The reason I love it is the fact that it’s always delivering new things, but I’ve been wondering lately whether this is good for me.

I once had to take an aptitude assessment called StrengthsFinder, which is supposed to identify your top 5 “strengths,” to help you understand what you’re good at and why. My number one strength was “Input,” which essentially means I love acquiring new information. But I worry sometimes that my desire for the new distracts me from dwelling on the meaningful. I’m like a rat in a cage, endlessly pulling on the lever that will deliver a new pellet. I should be out exploring the world, or at least reading one of the longer pieces in my Instapaper queue. I like how the app Unread (App Store) tries to change how we read our RSS feeds, but I’ll be much more likely to use it when it’s on the iPad.

What is the app you are still missing?

For my to-do list, I use a mixture of Omnifocus (App Store) and Due (App Store), which are both wonderful. Omnifocus is the ultimate project management app because of its ability to show me precisely what I need to see at any given moment in my project. Due is the ultimate reminders app because of its ability to persistently remind me of what I need to remember to do. But neither quite meets my need for a “checklist” app.

I’ve been interested in checklists since I read Atul Gawande’s piece about them in the New Yorker, which he later turned into his book The Checklist Manifesto. His main thesis is that as our lives grow increasingly complicated, one way to reduce the number of errors we make is simply by using checklists for any complicated procedures we have to complete on a regular basis. Among other things, he writes about a group of hospitals that implemented a checklist to try to reduce the number of infections caused by intravenous lines. They simply asked all doctors and nurses to make sure specific items were checked off on a list of best practices every day.

Within the first three months of the project, the infection rate in Michigan’s I.C.U.s decreased by sixty-six per cent…In the Keystone Initiative’s first eighteen months, the hospitals saved an estimated hundred and seventy-five million dollars in costs and more than fifteen hundred lives. The successes have been sustained for almost four years—all because of a stupid little checklist.

In other words, checklists are powerful. Even if we think we know how to do something, our memory is always less reliable than a checklist. And yet, there doesn’t seem to be an app specifically designed for implementing checklists in our work lives. Most of my Omnifocus projects are really checklists, because I do the same things in the same order to prepare for each class I teach. I’m currently using Applescript templates to hack together something like checklists for Omnifocus, but I’d love an app that just does this one thing well.

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

The thing that often feels lacking at Apple for me is true respect and gratitude for the developer community. I know they give out Apple Design Awards, which is nice. And they love to cite how many billions of dollars developers have made in the app store (even though most of these are in app purchase dollars for mindless, addictive games). But I rarely get the impression Apple realizes that independent developers are actually the biggest asset Apple has. When I switched to using an Apple computer almost a decade ago, I thought I would get better hardware. But the main thing I got was better software, and that software was provided mainly by indie developers: apps like Omnifocus, Launchbar, 1Password, Textexpander, Keyboard Maestro, Fantastical, and so on. The list has only grown with the introduction of iOS.

Of course, Apple has done things that have helped developers, like creating app stores to help publicize and sell apps. But the chorus of frustration from developers continues to grow. The current implementation of sandboxing, first with iOS and then with the Mac App Store, cripple the power of many apps. And how long have developers been asking about trial versions and upgrade pricing? It would be one thing if Apple gave a clear answer for why they weren’t providing these options. But it’s quite another when developers are met simply with silence.

If I were in charge at Apple, I would acknowledge that my company had helped cultivate the greatest community of software developers imaginable, and that my company’s success depended on sustaining that community. I would do everything I could to communicate with that community, both by listening to their suggestions and ideas, and trying to implement the best of those ideas, so that those developers would continue to be enriched, both literally and figuratively, by developing for my platform.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I remember Steve Jobs onstage at the introduction of the iPad, talking about how amazing it was to hold the internet in your hands. You wouldn’t think just bringing the screen closer to your hands would matter that much, but it does. My favorite feature of the iPad is how my favorite apps allow me to reach out and touch the content (for lack of a better word), to interact with it in novel ways. Whether that’s plucking articles out of the stream for reading later, reaching through a screen to write on a student’s paper or a Keynote slide, or stitching a bit of the web into my blog post, each of these apps enable new, more intimate relationships with digital information. And that still feels amazing.

Thanks Rob.

 

Home Screens - Deron Bos

This week’s home screen features Deron Bos (website) (Twitter). Deron is, among many things, a dad, a professional organizer, and a geek. I love how Deron is bringing his love of Apple technology to his business. So Deron, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Tweetbot

I heard the deafening nerd chorus of praise for this app for years, but it wasn’t until I started tweeting for my business and learning that Twitter is at its best when interacting that I fell in love with Twitter. Even still, my sometimes dominating Dutch cheapness, had me on the official Twitter app for sometime before I ponied up. Now I love it – the swipe to reveal conversations I use constantly and all its satisfying robot sounds are music to my young-on-Twitter heart. I liked it so much that I eventually even bought the $20 Mac version. Totally worth it, look forward to the iPad update…coming soon?

Habit List

I found out about this from David’s Macworld review and knew it would be a good replacement for Good Habits which lacked a sexy iOS 7 design or more importantly the versatilely to schedule certain habits for certain days. I’m mostly using to try to keep myself accountable for networking/social media work for my business, but I’m thinking about moving my morning routine from Reminders to here as well. The one thing I wish it had was the ability to have folders or different contexts, so that “Fill up Buffer with week’s worth of posts” wouldn’t be right on top of “Make boys’ lunches.”

Pushpin

I teach digital organization to my clients, but like any good organizer I’m still figuring it out myself. I’m experimenting with Pinboard after feeling like links and web research would get lost in Evernote. Right now my digital buckets look something like: notes in Simplenote (NVALT on the Mac), long, sprawling, story like articles in Instapaper, scanned PDFs and cold storage in Evernote, more visual organizing links in Pinterest, videos in Pocket, and occasional recipes in Pepperplate. It seems a bit spread out to me at times, but the everything bucket model just hasn’t worked for me in the past.

Downcasts

Yes, its ugly and yes, I’m waiting to see what Overcast is like, and yes, I still can’t fully figure out its playlist feature, but it does stream episodes which for binge-listening a podcast like Fizzle (by recent Home Screen subject Chase Reeves) is key. MPU is heavy in my rotation too along with The Disney Story Origins Podcast and How Did This Get Made?

Reminders

I use lists with different contexts (Phone calls, Computer, Home, Errands, etc) for a very simple GTD system. It works fairly well – almost all the apps I love now have Mac counterparts like this one.

Messages

I love the multi-platform functionality of iMessages. Moving the same conversation from my iPhone to my full Mac keyboard is completely satisfying. Especially when it’s reminding my NYC friend of his perjorative views of turning 40 when he was 25.

Google Voice

This app has always been a bit crappy and it’s probably never going to be updated, but I use GV as my business line so it’s on the home page. I had hopes for GV, but I think it’s going to be integrated into Hangouts which I used the other day for the first time in a very long time and found very pleasing in its design.

Day One

This app knocks it out of the park – in all its versions. I love that it’s plain text, makes a great photo journal, and tags make it easy to place different content (food journal, movie review journal, journal-journal) in one place. An everything-journaling bucket that does work for me.

Reeder

This is one of the first iOS apps I truly loved and it’s still killer for me: pleasurable reading experience with a ton of options to send to the other buckets.

Lyft

I drive part-time for Lyft and the experience itself (rather than the app) of routing rides through Los Angeles with these things still we still call “phones” seems like a huge tip of the iceberg of how integrated technology is radically changing life. It’s continually surprising to me. Plus cute icons.

Waze

I’ve used Waze since it was one of the few free GPS iOS apps and I have to say it’s improved hugely in three years – it often does a very effective job of getting me around LA traffic through some untraditional routes.

Fantastical

Best calendar app, EV-AH.

Chrome

I’m somewhat surprised that I look like Mr. Google here, because I’ve never had any interest in Android, but there are some Google web apps that I’ve used for years fondly like Gmail and Google Docs (now Drive.) I switched to Chrome on my Mac because Safari was crashing so much on me, and it’s been much more stable, but I’m not sure I have the same need for Chrome on iOS. Mobile Safari is very fluid and I might switch back soon.

Gmail

I made the switch to Gmail focused apps after suffering through the Mail-Mavericks debacle and reading Macsparky’s convincing argument for embracing the Gmail apps that fully feature its uniqueness. Among them I like the divided inbox the most on mobile and the ease that it can handle my four (four?!) different Gmail accounts easily in one app. There are some things I miss in iOS Mail, not least of all the way it handles text.

What app is your guilty pleasure?

I don’t feel guilty about it, but an app I love for casual reading is Zite. I was bummed to find out that Flipboard bought it, because I always found much more superior and surprisingly personalized content on Zite.

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

As the dad of two young boys, I still seeing having multiple user accounts on the iPad as low hanging fruit for the next version of iOS.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks so much for asking – I think the home screens feature might have been how I found this blog originally so I feel honored to be featured.

Thanks Deron

Home Screens - TJ Luoma

This week’s home screen features TJ Luoma (website) (Twitter), Presbyterian minister by day, geek by night. TJ writes for The Unofficial Apple Weblog and frequently posts on automation. If that isn’t enough, TJ was our guest this week on the Mac Power Users. So TJ, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

My favorite iPhone app is Spotify, but for one very specific reason. Every morning I drive my son to school and hand him my iPhone 5s so he can control Spotify, which plays via Bluetooth to my car stereo. He’s almost 12, and getting to that age where music is likely to become really important to him, so I like that we have this setup in place. The nice thing about Spotify is that you can ‘star’ songs and have them cached to your iPhone. He has a playlist on my Spotify account and adds songs to it whenever he finds something new that he likes. He likes that he can hear the specific song that he wants to listen to, and not just songs related to some other songs that he said he likes.

In terms of “Wow, having this app on my pocket-computer makes life so much better” I’d say it’s a toss-up between OmniFocus and Safari. Before the iPhone I had a Trēo (actually, several: the 300, the 600, and the 650), and the web browser on it was atrocious. I almost never used it. I can still remember using Safari on my original iPhone and being amazed at how much better it was.

  • OmniFocus 2 for the iPhone is wonderful. It’s on my dock (having replaced the almost-never used Phone app) and if there’s a Dock badge, I know I’ve got something time-critical to work on. Getting Things Done isn’t perfect, but it’s the best system I’ve found for remember what I have to do and helping me stay on track. I used Kinkless GTD “back in the day” which was a great system held together by bubble gum, duct tape, and AppleScript. OmniFocus is one of those apps that I can easily take for granted, but what it offers me is exceptional. The OmniFocus iPad app is very good too (although I impatiently wait for its next update.). The iPad itself is the perfect “weekly-review” device for me.

My favorite iPad app is Instapaper. When I was growing up, my Dad read two newspapers a day, and he especially enjoyed the Sunday paper. I don’t think I’ve ever read a newspaper, because I have something better. During the week I send things I want to read to Instapaper, and then I try to read through my Instapaper backlog on the weekend. It’s sort of my version of “the Sunday paper” except that every article is something that I already know I want to read. My Dad would have loved a newspaper like that.

All Notifications Go to My iPhone. None to My iPad.

I don’t use any notifications on Mac OS X, mostly because I use 3–4 different Macs depending on where I am/what I’m doing,1 and I can’t be bothered to set customize everything properly on all of them, so I just leave them off entirely. It used to be that if a message came in via iMessage, I might hear it on 2–3 Macs and 2 iOS devices. Since there are some messages (namely, non-iMessage text messages) which can only go to my iPhone, I decided to centralize all notifications to my iPhone and only my iPhone. So now I only have one digital “Inbox.” Consequently, my iPad has been in “Do No Disturb” since iOS 7 came out, which is great because I primarily use my iPad for reading, and derive great enjoyment out of being able to use it without being interrupted or distracted. (Well, not by the iPad, at least.) Some of my favorite apps are ones that allow me to centralize my messages to my iPhone, which starts by being brutally harsh when any app says that it wants to send me notifications. I almost always say no, because they are always easier to turn on than off but on is potentially worse than off so my default answer isHow About No? I don’t even allow Mail.app to show an unread badge, although, since I use SaneBox I usually have a fairly clean Inbox anyway.

  • AwayFind isn’t on my home page, because the only time I need to work with it is when it sends me a notification. There are so many awesome things about AwayFind, but the biggest three are these: 1) it allows me to respond to Certain Important People right away, 2) when I launch AwayFind, I only see the messages from my important people, which means that I don’t get sucked into other email when I’m just trying to focus on Important Email Only, 3) it allows me to turn off automatic email fetching entirely. Everywhere.

  • Fantastical on the iPhone is what Apple should have made. The list view of upcoming events is the most logical way to use the iPhone’s screen size, and Apple’s calendar didn’t really offer anything like it until the recent 7.1 update. I still prefer Fantastical, not only for looking at my calendar, but especially for adding things to it. The ability to just write a sentence about what I need to add to my calendar is, well, fantastic. Badge icons tell me I have a specific event happening at a specific time later today, or a reminder of something I either have to orreally really should do today (i.e. call for an oil change). I use Reminders (usually via Siri “Remind me to…”) for simple things, and OmniFocus for anything more complicated.

  • Pushover ($5) replaced Prowl for sending notifications from my Macs to my iPhone. I wrote a basic shell script which uses Pushover’s REST API so I can easily send myself a message. For example, my Mac mini runs SuperDuperevery morning at 6:00 a.m. When SuperDuper finishes successfully, it triggers a shell script which tells me so. Lots of other examples like that, just little things, but they all go to my iPhone

“Which app is your guilty pleasure?”

I probably spent more hours playing the original Plants vs Zombies than I’d like to see tallied up and shown to me on my deathbed. More recently I find myself coming back to Dots whenever I feel like doing something mindless but fun. I could spend thousands of dollars in Comixology and I love reading comic books again on my iPad, which is one of the reasons that I’ll always be a “full size iPad” guy.

What is the app you are still missing?

A great text editor. I think I own more than 40 iOS text editors, because each time a new one comes out, I’ll try it, but none of them has combined the right set of features that I want with a UI that I love. It may be that I’m just impossible to please. I keep coming back to Byword, mostly because the UI is nice and the iCloud sync is pretty great.

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

I use my iPhone a lot. A lot a lot. Many. Again, partially because of how I have my notifications setup, my iPhone is pretty much always either in my pocket or on a stand on my desk. My iPad usually goes with me to lunch, and then I use it most of the evening as we’re watching TV or whatever, unless I need to write something, in which case I’ll get out my MacBook Air.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Sync. Being able to start something on one device and pick up another device and continue to work on it there? That’s pretty close to magic. I tend to prefer Dropbox over iCloud for document sync, because if anything goes wrong I can go to the website and see previous version, restore a version, identify conflicts, etc. When it works, iCloud sync is great, but the “black box” aspect of it worries me.

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

The first thing would have to be some sort of way for apps to share documents. It’s completely absurd that I have to add a different “silo” of text files for every text editor, and that pictures have to be imported and exported. It’s clumsy, it’s ugly, and it’s completely un-Apple-like, at least unlike the Apple that most of us loved for their attention to detail and “just works” aspect. I don’t know why it’s taking them so long, but it’s the biggest downside to using an iOS device.

The second thing is trial versions of apps and upgrades. The absence of both of those (along with the difficulty of getting a refund) is one of the major factors that has pushed prices towards $0, which has pushed the overall quality of apps much lower. There are some notable exceptions, obviously, but there are a lot of great apps which seem to have been left behind by developers who realized they just couldn’t afford to keep developing them. It’s also given rise to in-app purchases being abused in so many different ways. If Apple wanted a bazillion apps in the app store, well, now they’ve got them. Now we need to think about making the app stores – iOS and Mac – financially viable for developers to stick around long term, instead of what it is now, which is basically a lottery for a few apps that strike it rich.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

This picture of my mom and my son is my lock-screen picture. In my job as an ordained minister, I have to work every year on Christmas Eve. As soon as that service is over, I get in the car and drive 12-hours to go home to see my mom in the house where I grew up. My wife and son usually drive up a few days earlier when school break starts. She posted this picture with the caption:

Next time someone asks me why I drive 12 straight hours from Ohio to Massachusetts, I’m going to show them this picture. Somebody really loves his Grammy!

We’ve been doing this since 2006, and it’s what makes Christmas for me.

(My home-screen wallpaper is a solid dark blue or purple. I like my backgrounds to be plain and non-distracting.)

Anything else you’d like to share?

My home screen on my iPhone changes all the time, but there are a couple of constants. Anything that sends me a push notification has to go on the main screen. I have a “Comm” folder for any apps where someone might be trying to get in touch with me (Phone, Twitter DMs, Kik, Facebook, Pushover, etc) and I play a few “Turn Based” games like Words With Friends and Cribbage HD (I’m always looking for new players, so hit me up on Game Center, I’m “TJLuoma”) so those go into a folder called “Games.”

Due is my “nag me until I do this” app, especially for medication that I need to take every day. It’s repeating alarms are great, and it is persistent enough to keep me from forgetting things, which I have a tendency to do otherwise.

I arrange my iPhone home screen to be all of the apps I use most often. The first app on the second page is the App Store app, and I try to keep the second page mostly empty, because that’s where new apps that I am trying out will go. If it’s not on one of those two pages (or on the dock), I’ll launch it by searching.

On my iPad I have arranged things very differently. The first page is all Apple apps, and the second page is the apps that I use most often. Most of them revolve around reading of some kind or another.

A unsung hero of my app collection is DropCopy which is like like AirDrop, except that it works between iOS and Mac (as we’ll as iOS to iOS, and Mac to Mac). It’s the main way I send files between devices if I need them right nowand don’t want to have to go through Dropbox.

Whew. And here I wasn’t sure what I’d have to say about my home screens! I should have known. I have a friend (who is also a pastor) who says that if you ask a preacher for the time, they’ll probably respond with “That reminds me of a story…”

Thanks TJ.

  1. It’s not that I’m rich, it’s that I never get rid of my Macs. I have a "late 2012" Mac mini that's my office computer, a MacBook Air which was new in 2010, a “hand-me-down” 2008 MacBook Pro, an iMac which was new in 2007, and a Black MacBook that’s old enough that I don't even remember when it was new. 

Home Screens - Heidi Alexander

Alexander Heidi Low Res Headshot.jpg

This week’s home screen features Heidi Alexander (Twitter). Heidi is a law practice advisor and a geek. Heidi blogs here and co-hosts the Legal Toolkit podcast, where she talks about tools to make the practice of law easier. So Heidi, show us your home screen.

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What are some of your favorite apps?

Some of my favorite apps include: WunderlistDraftsHootsuiteFeedlyTuneIn Radio1Password, and Wordpress. I recently started using Wunderlist as my task list, and I absolutely love it. Drafts is also a newish addition, and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of its functionality. I use TuneInRadio almost exclusively for listening to NPR on my morning commute and Wordpress to post quickly to both my work and personal blogs. Although I haven’t listed it as one of my “favorite” apps, I do like the Google app that serves up informative and personal “Google now” swipe-away “cards”. Today’s card read: “Winter Storm Warning in Massachusetts” (yet again). Additionally, of course, with a child under the age of one, the iPhone’s Camera, Photos, and Facetime are absolutely essential. And, it goes without saying that as a regular listener of Mac Power Users, I must keep a Podcast app on my home screen!

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure is definitely the Amazon store app. I have Amazon Prime and love the ability to buy with just one click. To help avoid too many impulsive purchases, I moved the app to my second screen.

What is the app you are still missing?

With so many great apps available, I honestly believe that there is an app out there for every one of my needs. The fun for me is in testing new apps (I even have a folder on my second screen dedicated to the apps that I’m testing).

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

I use my iPhone often, but not excessively (although my spouse might disagree). I use it primarily to listen to podcasts and radio, make phone calls, take pictures, view my calendar, and to navigate to a destination. I do most of my drafting and reading on either my iPad Air or iPad Mini.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Folders, folders, and folders! I love the ability to group and organize apps. Folders comprise my entire second screen.

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

I’d make Siri more user friendly. I find that Siri often has trouble understanding me (maybe it is my Minnesotan-New England accent blend) and thus I haven’t really focused on learning to use Siri. If Siri could just read my mind, I would never ask Apple for anything again.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Am I the only home screen feature that is still using an iPhone 4S? That’s a bit embarrassing. I’m just a few weeks shy of my upgrade and cannot wait for a new iPhone 5S. Because I use my iPads as much, if not more than my iPhone, I’ve focused on upgrading my iPads over the past couple of years rather than my iPhone. I love my iPads, so it all works out.

Also, in case you were wondering, my home screen wallpaper displays my eight-month-old’s first art project. I’m a very proud parent!

Good for you. I’ve still got art like that on my wall and my daughter is 17.

Thanks Heidi.

Home Screens - Chase Reeves

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This week's home screen features Chase Reeves (website) (Twitter). Chase is a designer and educator. Chase has a great sense of humor that helps get his message across. He also has a podcast, The Fizzle Show. So Chase, show us your home screen.

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What are some of favorite apps?

Drafts

Everyday I use this sucker to write something no one will see online at one of the blogs (read: i’m a big time internet guy) I run. Also used for quick note capture and jokes I think are funny while I’m drunk but then aren’t funny when I read them the next day.

In all seriousness, though, I’ve started writing more and more in Drafts on my phone. Capturing things in bite sized lines, a kind of shorthand, has helped me put together pieces like thisthis and this (warning: that last one’s a bit heavy… and I really did write it in Drafts).

This app is one of those great bits of technology that, most of the time, makes me more human. Note it’s placement for optimal left-hand thumb thumb velocity… i’m serious about Drafts, you guys.

VSCO

How else am I gonna make my boring life look special?

Note: the camera is there upper right as per a tip I heard somewhere (was it Gruber?) about putting the camera app where the lens for the camera is so you don’t fire it up and miss your son’s first steps because your finger was over the lens… ya’ turkey!

Sonos

Fk’n sonos, man. This + rdio has put the music I lost when I had a family back in my life. I just make a bunch of playlists in Rdio for different moods and throw one on ever dinner time… then I can’t hear the way some people chew their food with their mouths open… animals.

Tumblr

This is where I share all those VSCO’d pictures. It’s also where I subscribe to a bunch of great image blogs… perfect for brain dead moments after writing about how cool your phone’s home screen is.

I put this app in a folder, but I shouldn’t. I use this app frequently, and rarely use the others in the folder… though I occasionally open up the Alien Blue app to stay up to date on… erm… “human form art.”

Due

Damn fk’n right I’m not gonna forget to pickup my kid from school… cuz I set a timer. My wife doesn’t set timers because she’s a wife and wives have a whole section of brain matter that dads don’t have. So I set timers using Due.

One oft-used timer is the 26m power nap timer. I’ll admit it, I nap.

Rowmote Pro

I use it to control my media center, a vintage Mac Pro running plex and safari and a whole bunch of “content” acquired in a “perfectly reasonable” way. I’ve got a logitech remote, but running netflix is just a lot easier with this app.

Evernote

Like many clowns on internet, I admire Merlin Mann too much. I always wanted to use the notational velocity… but I was hooked on Evernote from an early age for one reason: audio notes. Most of my ideas start either on the toilet in Drafts or in the car in an Evernote audio note.

Evernote is such a slow and cumbersome app, but i’ll {insert Allan Watts quote here} and assume it’s good to slow down a bit as I wait for search results in the app to show up.

Stanza

I read for about 20m every night. Lights off, dark room, white text on black background. There’s not a single app out there that gets as dark as Stanza. Which sucksbecause this app is old and is never slated for another update.

I’ve tried everything else, and really wanted Readmill to work because it looks sexy, like a designer made it, but they all shine way too bright in the night, it’s a fright… me no like.

Foursquare

literally just started using this app. Have you guys heard of location-based check-in apps!? Terrific stuff!

A new friend encouraged me to check Foursquare out for a few reasons (he also got me on Path, but I haven’t found a way to care about that one yet). So far I’m liking it more than yelp for recommendations and tips. I live in Portland where we pride ourselves on the ungodly amounts of baristas and service workers we can employ… so the recommendations for this pork-fat-turkey-juice sandwich or that double-decker-beer-bus-handstand place come in handy.

Fantastical

I started with Fantastical, then went to Calendars 5, then threw up everywhere, then went back to fantastical, then went back to Calendars 5 and fell in love with it (for the week view) then went back to fantastical after I saw that it does week view when you turn the phone sideways then decided to unlock rotation on my phone for that one reason then got super stoked about seeing my week in fantastical (better week view than Calendars 5) then hated having my rotation unlocked because I read every night and it turns the apps sideways when I don’t want them to and now I’m too tired from thinking about calendar apps to schedule anything worthwhile to do in my life for a little while.

Others

Rdio is great. I love discovering music this way. I usually leave this app set to “Offline” so it doesn’t mess up my computer’s “Play Later” queue. I typically only listen to my workout playlist on the phone anyways.

Casts app is fine. Everyone’s bitching about podcast apps. I switched a few times, but they’re all basically the same. I subscribe, I want to listen to all of them in reverse chronological order at 1.5 speed. They all do this. I am satisfied. And this one looks a little better than the others. Here’s to hoping Marco shows me what I didn’t know was broken about podcast apps.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I’ve never been a gamer besides that one time in college where the dorm room had Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 and I felt compelled to beat the game with every player because I’m an idiot. But I’ve just learned how to play candy crush (you gotta break the jellies!) and I dislike how often I want to play it but don’t because people will judge me.

What is the app you are still missing?

Audio notes app… I fire it up, it records, then it sends the audio file over to Evernote with an attempt to put the first 1m into text in the note. There are some Evernote audio apps but they’re buggy.

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

When I walk or drive anywhere I’m listening to a podcast… could be Back to Work, Mac Power Users, Radiolab, my show (what? I listen so I can get better.), Bionic, ScriptNotes, WTF (this is the one that started it all for me)… Every now and again I text my wife too.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I like being able to take pictures quickly. Just upgraded from 4s to 5s and it’s much snappier. That and podcast. And being able to contact everyone around the world and write things when I’m pooping and making music too and that time I had it when I went to sushi with my friends and now I can remember that and then this timeand this time and when I made a website for a guy and then he saw it and send me this and then we became business partners eventually and then my very favorite time. There’s a few things I like about the iPhone… but mostly that.

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

This is hard. I’m not a smart apple tech rumor guy. They make stuff that’s so fun to play with. I make all my money using their things. I just got a new MBP retina. Every time I look at anything written on that screen I shit my pants… feels like being on drugs. So it’s hard to get up in the air and see what they’re doing wrong. I hear Marco bitching a lot about developer relations stuff… I’d tell apple to fix that and be nicer to their friends. I’d say, “dude, I have about 30 firewire 800 drives… no FW on the new laptops, seriously?” I’d say that. I’d say, “I saw a collection of those Think Different posters recently and I cried… I literally cried.” And I’d say, “Tim Cook, I like that you’re gay (you’re gay, right?) and I applaud you and how come when my Mighty Mouse gets disconnected for a second I want to slam it so goddam hard and throw it across the room and can you make that not happen more?” And then I’d say, “thx for making me feel awesome.”

Anything else you’d like to share?

I write more here and hope you have a nice day, David!

Thanks Chase.

Home Screens: Composer Johnny Knittle

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This week features musician and composer Johnny Knittle (Website)(Twitter). Johnny writes music for numerous television programs and is extremely talented (Johnny’s SoundCloud). Johnny also composed and performed the current Mac Power Users music. So Johnny, show us your home screen.

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What are some of your favorite apps?

OmniFocus and 1Password are apps I really love and couldn’t do without. Dispatch is a great email app. Drafts and Launch (Center Pro) are quite handy as well, hence the well earned placements in my dock. Due is great used in conjunction with the OSX app, especially for items which don’t belong in OmniFocus. The newFileMaker Go is a nice update as well.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

The NYT Crossword app (it’s on page 2) which I play daily, then download older puzzles to play even more often. It has even become part of my bedtime routine. If I had to pick an app from my home screen then the winner is Twitter. I have found Twitter to be quite useful and have even found work that way.

What is the app you are still missing?

A good quality photo management app, something pragmatic.

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

An almost inordinate amount, surely. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I love the easy access to the Do Not Disturb control, I’ll quickly put it in DND mode when I’m with the girlfriend or having dinner. Also useful when I have to record or just need my phone to shut up and stop yelling at me.

A close second is the mutli-page folders. I don’t remember who wrote about having empty space on the bottom of the screen but I love it; I have only one app in the bottom of each page which is mostly possible due to the new mutli-paged folders feature.

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

I’d spend some of our billions on the rights to Sierra Quest Games then create a new Space Quest; Roger Wilco deserves another chance.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Go Steelers! 2014 is our year. (And yes, I do have the Steelers app on page 2.)

Thanks Johnny

Home Screen: Casey Liss

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

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Favorite Apps

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

Guilty Pleasures

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

What’s Missing?

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

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

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

Favorite Feature?

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks Casey.

Home Screens: Dr. Drang

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

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

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

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

To me, the most interesting changes have been these:

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

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

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

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

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

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

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

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

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

Thanks Doc.

Home Screens: Moisés Chiullan

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

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What are some of your favorite apps?

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

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

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

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

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

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

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

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

Anything else you’d like to share?

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

Thanks Moisés

Home Screens - Serenity Caldwell

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

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What are some of your favorite apps?

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

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

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

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

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

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

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

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

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

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

Amen sister. Thanks Serenity.

Home Screens - Thomas Borowski

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

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What are some of your favorite apps?

Reeder

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

Tweetbot

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

Drafts

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

1Password

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

Editorial

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

Textastic

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

PlanBe

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

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

TaskPaper

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

TextTool

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

Prompt

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

MindNode

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

CarbonFin Outliner

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

PocketCasts

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

Penultimate

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

Evernote

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

Calca

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

Boxie

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

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

How many times a day do you use your iPad?

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

What is your favorite feature of the iPad?

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

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

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

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

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

Anything else you’d like to share?

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

Thanks Tom.

Home Screens: Bojan Dordevic

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

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What are some of favorite apps?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

What are the apps you are still missing?

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

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

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

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

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

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

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

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

Anything else you’d like to share?

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

Thanks Bojan. Good luck with the magazine.

Home Screens: Mike Vardy

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

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What are your most interesting home screen apps?

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

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

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

What is your favorite app?

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

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

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

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

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

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

Anything else you’d like to share?

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

Home Screen: Jeff Richardson

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

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What are some of your favorite apps?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

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

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

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

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

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

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

Anything else you’d like to share?

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

Thanks Jeff. 

 

Home Screen: Ben Carter

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

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What are some of favorite apps?

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

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

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

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

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

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

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

So, is “constantly” an answer?

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

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

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

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

Anything else you’d like to share?

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

Thanks Ben.

 

Home Screens: Katie Floyd

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

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What are some of favorite apps?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

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

What feature would you add?

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

Anything else you’d like to share?

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

Thanks Katie. 

 

Home Screens: Me, iOS 7 Edition

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

My Home Screen Apps

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Apple Mail

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

Camera App

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

Logacal

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

Byword

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

Notesy

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

Twitterific

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

Sonos

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

Instacast

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

Audible

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

Hue

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

WeMo

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

Reeder 2

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

Remote

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

The Dock

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

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

What Feature Would I Add?

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

How About That Background?

It is a simple blue gradient I created with Grad.

 

Home Screens: Greg Pierce

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

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What are some of your favorite apps?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

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

Handy flashlight, too.

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

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

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

Thanks Greg. And thanks for Drafts. A lot.

 

Home Screens: Victor Medina

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

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

Okay, Victor, show us your home screen.

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What are some of your favorite apps?

DockWorthy

Daylite

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

Mail

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

OmniFocus

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

Messages

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

Front & Center Apps

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

Feedly

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

iCatcher

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

UP & Couch-to–5k

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I have two guilty pleasure apps: NextDraft and PuzzleRetreat

NextDraft

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

PuzzleRetreat

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

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

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

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

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

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

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

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

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

Anything else you’d like to share?

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

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

Home Screens - Shawn Blanc

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

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What are your most interesting home screen apps?

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

What is your favorite app?

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

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

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

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

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

Two less than the legal limit.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

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

Anything Else You’d Like to Share?

San Dimas High School Football rules.

Thanks Shawn.