home screens

Home Screens - Larry Salibra

This week’s home screen features Larry Salibra (Website) (Twitter). Larry, from Ohio but now living in Hong Kong, was a founder of pay4bugs.com and, among other endeavors, wrote an interesting post about how to put Live Photos on the web. So Larry, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Apple Music is my current favorite app. It’s really done a lot to introduce me to new music outside of my normal comfort zone. When I don’t know what I want to listen to, I listen to Beats 1. When I hear a song on Beats 1 I like, I’ll add it to my music and sometimes even dive deeper and explore that artist’s other works. Before Apple Music, music discovery via radio was much higher friction.

I use the Hong Kong Observatory’s weather app to check out weather radar whenever it looks like it’s going to rain to plan my driving route around any potential rain clouds. I drive a scooter, and like to avoid getting soaked. Hong Kong has a lot of mountains and islands and it’s amazing how by choosing a slightly different route - perhaps through a tunnel instead of over a bridge, or on the non-rainy side of a hill - to a destination you can avoid getting wet.

I like the Breadwallet bitcoin wallet. It’s well done both technically and visually.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Twitter. I love to see what’s going on and get involved in silly Twitter debates about China, cybersecurity or Bitcoin.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

I’m definitely underusing OmniFocus. It’s my go to for everything I need to do, but I’m not as disciplined as I should be keeping it organized.

What is the app you are still missing?

I’m really looking forward to the Blockstack iOS client. Blockstack is a blockchain-based global internet database has the potential to revolutionize the way we as consumers manage our private information, store our login credentials and access information. Think decentralized domain names and decentralized FaceBook login secured by the Bitcoin blockchain.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

I use my iPhone all day. I’m using it listening to music on while I’m working. I keep sound notifications turned off and frequently set the phone (and my watch & mac) to do not disturb to escape from the constant deluge of iMessage, Whatsapp, Wechat, Telegram and other messages.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I’m using the Bitcoin ticker widget and the Air Quality widgets. I like to keep track of the price of Bitcoin and how much damage is being done to my lungs if I’m traveling in Mainland China. (The air in Hong Kong is usually pretty good!)

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

The camera is the best feature of my iPhone. It’s really changed how I keep in touch with my friends and family. My brother, who currently lives in Bulgaria recently called me on Facetime from the Munich airport on a layover on his business trip to the UK because he wanted to show me the planes he was watching from the observation deck. It’s amazing that we can still share these moments even though two brothers from Ohio spend most of our lives on opposite sides of the earth thousands of miles from home. iPhone enables that..

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

I’d like to see Apple do something about Apple Maps in Hong Kong. It hasn’t received any of the improvements maps in the rest of the world has and is light years behinds the maps they offer their customers in Mainland China. The obvious solution would be to let us use the maps users in Mainland China get since the China supplier’s maps of Hong Kong are much, much better than what we’re forced to use.

(Here are some tweets that show the difference between Apple Maps view of same place from both sides of the border.

I’d also like to see them improve the UX of Apple Notes. Folders work inconsistently across platforms and the app sometimes feels sluggish with a lot of notes.

iMessage is also another common source of problems. The phone number/apple id aspect of iMessage causes a lot of problems. I usually give people my apple id and tell them they can reach me via iMessage. Most people don’t even know that you can send iMessages to “emails”. What will then happen, is that person sends me an iMessage that comes from their phone number. Our messages stop getting delivered as soon at the person changes phone numbers by switching SIMs. I live in a part of the world where people are always changing numbers. Hong Kong’s country code (852) covers an area the size of New York City and most people don’t want to pay for roaming, so they usually switch to a local sim card as soon as they board the plane or cross the border, not realizing that switching sims will “break” their iMessage. If you exchanged Apple IDs with each other, it keeps working as you’d expect. If you didn’t (most people don’t), your messages just never get delivered or one party will suddenly get a message from a new unknown number.

Apple could easily fix this by making iMessage send from Apple ID by default, but it’s probably too late in many markets where Whatsapp or Wechat reigns supreme and many people have removed the Messages app from their home screen altogether.

Do you have an Apple Watch? Show us your watch face tell us about it.

Yes. I have the Apple Watch Sport 38mm with the white band. I’m using the utility watch with the activity, weather and sunset/sunrise complications. I like to do outdoor activities like hiking or swimming, so it’s important to know how many more hours of daylight I have. I also often stay up late and want to make sure I get to sleep before the sun comes up.

The killer app for my watch is turn by turn driving directions on my Vespa - much safer than how I’d previously have to pull over to the side of the road in busy traffic, take off my riding gloves, fumble to get my iPhone out of my pocket and then hope I could memorize the upcoming turns. It’s been a real life saver - literally!

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I recently changed to a colorful cityscape I found online. I really like how it brings out the capabilities of the iPhone 6s Plus screen and brightens up what has been a rather dark and rainy spring. Honestly, though I don’t see it very often, because I’m usually listening to music so the album artwork is on my lock screen.

Thanks Larry.

Home Screens: James Coleman

This week’s home screen features James Coleman (Twitter). James was a recent guest on the Mac Power Users and runs the Switcher Genius website that helps show PC users the light and bring them to the Mac. So James, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

My favorite apps aren’t necessarily the ones on my home screen, which is interesting. In fact, my favorite apps are just the interface to an entire platform that solves some problem in an incredible way previously not possible.  More and more I’m reminded that the iPhone is just the box we carry around to interface with platforms that could span hundreds or thousands of servers, and hundreds of thousands or millions of people worldwide.

As of the time of this writing, I really, really like Withings. I have two Withings scales and a bluetooth blood pressure cuff, and I use the scales daily, and the cuff every few days and no less than once per week.  I just discovered and applied a fitness recovery protocol for myself and lost >15lbs in the prior month, and I’m on track for losing another 10 this month. Withings is an important tool that’s part of my plan.  It’s groovy because it gives me data points I can look at, which is like reviewing financials if you’re a business type. A really critical 20% of my fitness regimen is a psyche game, and having those data points to look at constructively helps me analyze and stay focused. So if Withings helps me get back my sexy, I’m a fan.   Shazam and SoundHound are two of my favorite apps for telling me what the song is that I’m hearing, wherever I’m at. I dig this, especially in yoga sculpt (I’m addicted to yoga), and it can even tells me specific mixes, which is more awesome. And Shazam lets me put listening on continuous mode so I don’t have to tap the big listen button. I used SoundHound at my 5 year old’s sports festival recently to figure out what the songs were they were dancing to. My son was super stoked when he found out that I had added them to his playlist on iTunes.

I love Periscope. Tech has so much potential to open up TV, like Podcasting has done for audio broadcast.  I worked in West Hollywood for a few years, and during that time I met so much talent that had a snowball’s chance in hell of being discovered because media is largely controlled a few big companies. With a platform like Periscope, a student, screenwriter, actor - virtually anyone - can be heard, followed and discovered worldwide.  It’s unbelievable. I’m planning on putting Periscope to good use by answering tech questions my readers and listeners ask on the Switcher Genius blog and in a Q&A format online, live, unscripted. How cool is it that this is possible?

I have to admit that I was blown away with the experience using Postmates.  Seriously, if anyone hasn’t ordered delivery (usually food, but other things like groceries too, etc.) via Postmates, do it. When a business really thinks through the customer experience, and not just on-screen, but also off-screen, like how well the information flows between the person holding the phone and the company they want something from, they’re winning the game. 

A related note for business/tech nerds like me, about why I think an apps like Postmates are cool: The future of products and services is really about who can deliver the most efficiency from an asset. And not necessarily their own assets. Think about Apple: When you think Apple, the first products that come to mind are Macs and iOS devices. Those are just the medium.  Where Apple’s winning super hardcore is on making money on everyone else’s assets.  What is it now that they make off of iTunes and Apps that are other people’s assets?  Like $20 billion in profit?  Uber and AirBnB are two other great examples of this.  Any App that makes my experience with a company better by making it more efficient is cool.

Other than that, the apps most important to me are closest to my right-hand thumb.  I actually organized my phone specifically so the apps that I use most each day are easily in reach. No folders. No stretching. They’re right there. I call this area my iPhone’s “golden triangle” (see picture).

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

It’s nutty and nerdy, but it would have to be the app called Japanese.  I have a degree in Japanese Language and Literature, and during my undergrad studies I carried around a character lookup dictionary by Nelson that looks like a law school tome: Hardback, and it probably weighs 4 lbs and has some 1100 pages.  To look up any Kanji (Kanji = the adopted Chinese characters that are a core part of the Japanese written language) I would have to dissect a character based on its core components mentally then look it up. It’s actually really similar in some ways to translating hieroglyphics.  The whole process always struck me as crazy inefficient when we have English and can look up anything from A-Z, and most of the time phonetically instead of graphically.

Japanese is awesome because I can look up almost any word any number of ways.  Like by the way it sounds, just typing roman letters. Or via the “alphabet” of Japanese.  I can even draw the Kanji (which is useful if you’ve memorized 2000+ Kanji in college and still remember some, or can write what you see on a sign/book/newspaper, etc.)  I recently started blogging about Japan and Japanese (on Japanophile.jp), and I’ve using this app probably 15–20 times per day as I find new things to translate and share with people interesting in cool Japanese stuff.

What app makes you most productive? 

When I think productivity, three appsimmediately come to mind. Omnifocus, Evernote, 1Password.

The clear winner would be Evernote. I wrote most of this in Evernote in my car using Siri. But Evernote goes so much further than I could possibly have imagined. It’s text recognition capability is amazing, and paired with all of the capability of the iPhone it makes for the perfect external brain, which is basically their tagline. I take photos and menus at restaurants. I log almost all my calls of any consequence, and can look them up on any device instantly and by content, tags, or even the notebooks that I organize my notes into.  It’s so ridiculously easy to keep track of notes with tags, and organize them into notebooks or projects and endeavors.  And Evernote’s hooks into web browsers make it’s superbly easy to capture clips of anything.  

I signed up for Evernote for Business, and I keep discovering new ways to use it. It’s already replaced my company’s wiki and it’s replacing a large part of what Box.com used to do for me, and now I’m using it to collaborate on projects at work and at home, including planning vacations, school activities, etc. I estimate that actually utilizing Evernote gives me back at least 5 hours per week.  I used to think that Box.com was hot and servers were ancient.  I’m starting to realize that a platform like Evernote is much, much more than notes and can radically change the way a business - or even a household - runs.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

You know, when it comes to under-utilizing an app, I can’t really think of one off the top of my head.  I think it’s because I’m so obsessive-compulsive about how I select apps, how I organize them, and more important, what I get rid of. I do an 80–20 analysis on everything. My iPhone is a great example.  I use the stuff on the home screen 95%+ of the time. I used to have the calculator app on the home screen before Siri and before the Calculator was moved to the control center.  If I had to pick one by features it would be OmniFocus.  There’s just so much more I could do with it, but I don’t need to because the 20% I use it for gives me the 95% of what I want. 

What is the app you are still missing?

A really, really, really good translation app. There are some cool ones out there, but there’s no real rosetta stone of apps yet. I will seriously geek out when the day comes that I can tap ’translate’ and have it do real-time translation of everything happening in my conversation and transfer it to my Moto Hint that’s usually embedded in my ear. Then again, I remember holding the original 5GB iPod in my hand and saying “wouldn’t it be cool if this thing had a camera and you could make calls on it.” Maybe Siri will become my personal translator not too far off.

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

I use my iPhone a lot. In order of use:

1.  Phone. I’m only using one phone number nowadays.

2.  Messages.

3.  Evernote. Using with #1 and #2 constantly.

4.  Music and Apple Remote. Music is sooooo important to me.  I’m playing music constantly, in the car, at the office, at home.  

5.  Twitter. I’m @jamescoleman on Twitter. Twitter is the ultimate ability to say “hello” to anyone out there, and I love responding to anyone that says hi to me.   

On the other hand, I’m getting more and more used to leaving the ring volume on and cranked up somewhere in the house when I’m home so I don’t have the tendency of looking at it all the time.  When it’s in my pocket or in my hand, I noticed I’m more likely to look at it when I don’t need to.  Same for work production time.  When I’m writing the phone is a massive distraction, so it good to my right on the bookshelf and waits there.

I own two iPads and use them all the time teaching people Photos and business and personal productivity, but I use my iPhone for everything.  The only time I really use my iPad is as a parent-saving-device (PSD) on 12-hour flight to Japan, fully loaded with Ultraman and Youkai Watch videos for my kiddos.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The camera. Without a doubt. The ability to take a photo anywhere, anytime, geo-tagged, is just so wonderful. I’ve spent 10 years learning everything there is about digital photography, and I’ve helped everyone from moms and dads to some of the best photographers in the world get their photos and videos in order. I fill up my iPhone (I have the largest size and storage possible) at least once every 3 months.  I just love it.

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

My wife’s phone was just stolen during a trip to San Francisco, and within minutes we pushed the destroy-all-data button. About an hour later we had confirmation that the iPhone was zeroed out. The problem is, the jerk who stole it still has some incentive, despite the IMEI being reported stolen. There are too many parts that get taken and make their way into the black market. I want an option to not only wipe data, but fry all the circuitry simultaneously so every single part of the device is worthless to the crook who took it. I would find a way to not just remote wipe the phone, but also to safely remote destroy it.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

My lock screen rotates a lot. Usually pictures of my two boys or my gorgeous wife. Right now it’s a good luck charm I saw in Kyoto, Japan when I was traveling in the Yunohana area with my brother last April. I had just started a new blog so the maneki neko - a good luck cat - is beckoning for new readers :-)

Thanks James.

Home Screens – Author Brandon Callum

There are a group of authors out there embracing the iBooks format with interactive books like we’ve never seen before. Brandon Cullum (Website) (Twitter) is one of those guys with his recent iBooks Author Children’s book, Alfred the Time Traveling Dinosaur. In addition to being a pretty smart guy, Brandon also loves his iPhone. So Brandon show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

YNAB I’ve been with YNAB ever since getting married 2 years ago. It has been a huge help in keeping my wife and myself on the same page with our budget. They recently moved to a web-based platform and update the iPhone app to allow you adjust your budget categories on the fly. Super easy to use and a great piece of mind to know where all our money is going.

Casts There are a lot of podcast reader apps out there but Casts has stuck with me. I like its ability to create episode filters. Since I subscribe to a ton of podcasts and listen to a quite a few during the day (especially when I’m doing illustrations), it’s great to have them dropped into different lists.

Day One I have been using Day One as a productivity journal for over a year. I used to keep a journal inside of Evernote but found it getting lost with everything else I throw at the “everything bucket”. Day One is a super clean design and entries can be added from my iPad and Mac. One of my favorite things to do is to flip into the past and see the things I was working on and thinking about.

Slack I was and still am the champion for Slack at our small company. I’m also one of the admins and love introducing people to what it can do. I can waste a good bit of time trying to figure out new integrations and bots that our team can use. On the design side of things, Slack has made feedback so much faster and less formal as works are progressing. Also, Giphys are never a bad thing…..

1Password 1Password continues to improve their product and user experience. Having the ability to create a unique password for every single login I have is great. I am able to set up separate vaults for work and home and the extension ability makes logging in on iOS so easy.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Pinterest. I’ve created boards for potential children’s book projects and add to them several times a day. I’ve also gotten into woodworking and can lose myself looking at new shop projects and furniture I can build around the house.

What app makes you most productive?

Omnifocus does a great job keeping my projects top of mind and serving up just what I need to get done next. After using the Mac app as a standalone for a couple years, it still surprises me how much I can get done just on iOS.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

I know I’m underutilizing Workflow. I currently have a workflow that saves an email receipt to PDF and drops into a Hazel folder on my Mac which then gets filed automatically. It feels like magic every time I see it run and know I could tinker around and find a lot more use cases.

What is the app you are still missing?

I wish HomeKit had a mission control style app that was native to Apple. We recently purchased Netgear Arlo security cameras and Hue lights to go along with our Nest. It has been fun to think through ways to hack them all together with IFTT but I wish the process was easier.

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

Way too much. If I am in the process of doing illustrations for picture books I’m constantly taking pictures with my iPhone of hand drawings to digitize on my Mac. I’m also using the iPad to test features in iBooks and Kindle.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

Dark Sky Great weather app with a quick look at the weather for the next hour.

Fantastical This is a great way to a get a quick glance of what is coming up for the day. I also like that I have fast access to a calendar view and a list of appointments for that day in just one glance.

Huemote I love creating custom scenes for our Hue Lights and Huemote makes it so easy to access them all with a quick swipe to control the lights in the entire house.

Strava Strava is my favorite running and cycling app. When I am training for my next race I can get a quick summary of my weekly training and see my progress.

Personal Capital-Holding Personal Capital is kind of like Mint if you added investments. They feature a few different widgets but I’ve added holdings. This gives me a quick glance of how my investments are performing versus the index.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The ecosystem. The ability to transition between Mac, iPhone, iPad and pick up right where I left off is pretty amazing. Since I make books that are intended to be read on multiple devices it is fun to create them on multiple devices too.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks so much for the incredible work you are doing David! If anyone is interested in children’s books and wants to help me make my next one you reach me at my website or on Twitter.can.

Thanks Brandon.

Home Screens – Michael Tsai

This week’s home screen features Michael Tsai (Website) (Twitter). Among many other talents, Michael is a smart Mac developer with some great Mac apps like SpamSieve, EagleFiler, and DropDMG. So Michael, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

I really admire Fantastical and Weather Line. They provide basically the same functionality as the built-in Calendar and Weather apps, but the information is presented in a much better way.

Timer is like this as well. It’s both easier (single tap for common times) and more powerful (names, multiple times running at once).

I use the Camera app all the time. It’s amazing how much the quality has improved since the first iPhone. I rarely carry a real camera anymore.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Tweetbot and Overcast. Both are very useful, of course, but I spend more time in them than I probably should. I feel a bit guilty using Overcast because there are always new podcast episodes, and so I feel like I’m not making enough time for music anymore.

What app makes you most productive?

OmniFocus is the most important app that I use. From the iPhone, I use it to collect ideas and notes throughout the day, which I usually process on my Mac. TextExpander touch is a great help here; I don’t have it on my home screen because I pretty much always use it from within OmniFocus. Of course, I also use OmniFocus as a checklist for the things I’m doing.

1Password, Editorial, and Readdle Documents are great for accessing my account information and files of various kinds.

Rain  also makes me productive by helping me to sleep.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

I have Workflow installed but haven’t had a chance to do anything with it. I should probably install Pythonista.

I’ve been entering my weight into Health but otherwise haven’t done much with the app.

I definitely could spend more time reading with the Instapaper and Kindle apps.

What is the app you are still missing?

For years, I’ve wanted f.lux to be in the App Store. That’s not possible, but Apple is adding Night Shift in iOS 9.3.

I want Apple to make the Videos app much better or add APIs so that third-party developers can make an alternative, the way I can use Ecoute instead of Music.

I’d like a camera app that can lock the HDR feature on. I’ve tried lots of alternatives to the built-in Camera app, but they all seem to be slower and/or harder to use.

Of course, I’d like to bring SpamSieve and EagleFiler to iOS.

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

I don’t know. I wish iOS were more open so that it would be possible to write an app to answer this question, e.g. like RescueTime on the Mac. There are lots of interesting software ideas that don’t really fit into iOS’s idea of apps.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I have not found that I use Today View very much now that Touch ID is so fast. Right now I’m using Fantastical and Apple’s Batteries and Find Friends widgets.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

Well, I think the magic is in the combination of features all in one device that fits in my pocket. So maybe the size, if that is a feature.

Otherwise, in terms of hardware features: the camera, GPS, and Touch ID.

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

I would put more of the software focus on fixing bugs.

I would make lots of changes to the App Store: trials, upgrades, faster and more consistent App Review, a way for customers and developers to communicate. I’d also allow sideloading of apps that aren’t in the store.

I would make iCloud and iTunes backups more granular, so that people could, for example, restore the data for a single app without overwriting everything else on the device.

I would make the iPhone thicker and less rounded–more like the iPhone 5s shape. The iPhone 6s is just not comfortable to hold without a case, and cases are bulky and sticky in my pocket. If I’m going to thicken my phone to make it easier to hold, I’d rather thicken it with a larger battery than an inert case.

Do you have an Apple Watch? Show us your watch face tell us about it.

No. I like not wearing anything on my wrist. I think if I had an Apple Watch I would still be reaching into my pocket all the time because the iPhone is faster and can do so much more.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

My lock screen shows a photo that I took of the fire tower on Mt. Cardigan. That was the first image I chose when I got the original iPhone, and I haven’t seen a need to change it. I added a transparent overlay at the bottom that has instructions for how to access my emergency contacts and health information (by swiping right on the lock screen).

Anything else you’d like to share?

I have both Overcast and Downcast installed because Downcast makes it easy to play ad-hoc audio files that I’ve downloaded or created myself (e.g. by extracting the audio from WWDC sessions or YouTube videos).

Similarly, I have both Instapaper and Pocket installed because I like having two separate buckets for saving links. Instapaper is for articles that I want to read on my iPhone, whereas Pocket is for marking links from the iPhone that I want to process on my Mac. I only ever use it from action sheets in other apps, so it’s not on the home screen.

Thanks Michael.

Home Screens - Garren Rose

A few months ago I started corresponding with Garren Rose, an IT student at Arizona State University who is using the heck out of his iPad Pro. Garren was nice enough to share his iPad Pro home screen and explain some of his favorite apps. So Garren, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

I’ll admit, when I got the iPad Pro last month, I went a little nuts in the app store. My sister gave me an iTunes gift card to get me started, and then I spent the next few days in a blur of pure joy and reckless financial ruin. After the dust settled, I ended up with some great new favorites, and I’ve barely even scratched the surface of what’s available:

Pixelmator - I rushed to this app first because I’ve been a big fan of the desktop version for a long time and I was excited to be able to sync my projects between devices. What I did not expect, however, was how crazy-intuitive, racked with new features, and FUN the iOS version would be. I used it right away to touch up my family’s holiday card and it couldn’t have been easier. 

Korg iMS–20 - I’m a big synth nerd and I’ve been waiting years for Korg to release a reliable, non-crashy version of this app. I’m happy to say, the wait is over! The UI looks intimidating because it is designed to look exactly like the real Korg MS–20, but it’s incredibly user-friendly and comes with fantastic documentation. I port it into Garageband when I’m on-the-go so I can save my little synth hooks to use in bigger Ableton projects on my Mac later. 

MacID - Every time I use MacID, I feel like a straight-up wizard. This piece of software is seriously genius. It gives paranoid (security-minded) people like me the ability to lock and unlock their Macs securely from an iPad, iPhone, or Apple Watch. With Touch ID enabled, the process becomes ridiculously simple and fast. Now, I don’t ever have to waste time pecking in my gibberish password 20+ times a day. The iOS version also lets me control iTunes on my Mac, in case I want to rock out while I lock out.

Screens - This app has saved me two grand by keeping me from needed to replace my aging (but functional) Macbook Pro. I commute far to school and lugging the 15” Macbook Pro Retina every day was starting to take a serious toll on my machine. With Screens, I can leave my Mac safely at home on my desk and access it remotely from my iPad Pro whenever I need to grab a small file or work in any of my desktop software. One downside for iPad Pro users: if you use one of the smart keyboards, you’ll have to disconnect it and use the normal touch keyboard while logged in to your Mac. Hopefully Edovia has an update for us in the pipeline.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure app is BaconReader, a reddit client. I spend far too much time on it—it’s my go-to “I’m bored right now” app. I’m referred to as a “lurker” on reddit, which means I soak up all the interesting things that other users post, and in return, contribute nothing to the conversation. I am a terrible redditor, admittedly. But it’s addicting.

I’ve tried all of the big reddit clients out there, including their own homegrown Alien Blue, but none have been as easy to browse or operate as BaconReader. 

What app makes you most productive?

There are two apps that tie for me in the productivity department: 2Do and LastPass.  

2Do is my task manager and my calendar, combined. It is a phenomenal task manager; it syncs seamlessly over CalDAV via the Reminders app to all of my devices, leaving me with no excuse not to get those tasks checked off every day. If you’re someone who needs a ton of customization options in your task manager, consider 2Do. It’s packed with more features than you’d ever need so that you can find a combo that suits your lifestyle.

LastPass is my password manager of choice. From what I hear on MPU, it seems to have a lot of the same features as 1Password, but without the added "Team” element. It was reasonably priced for a year of premium, so I went for it, and I have had no complaints whatsoever. The UI is slick, organized, and consistent across every platform I’ve needed it on. I can’t believe how many passwords I used to carry around in my head all the time. Additionally, the app recently added action support, so accessing my passwords in any iOS browser is cake!

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

IF and DO Button (IFTTT apps) - I jumped on the Wemo train this year and purchased some components for my home. I’ve had a pretty good experience so far; it’s nice to not have to get up to flip the lights off while I’m working or watching TV, but I would love to incorporate more automation into the setup. I’ve read enough about IFTTT to know I could be living that sweet fully-automated life if I just sat down and messed with it for an hour. 

What is the app you are still missing?

I just want to see more apps that implement VR headset technology like Google Cardboard. Despite the old stigma, VR is not a novelty anymore and it’s certainly not going away. Look at the incredible following and praise Oculus has already drummed up! I say Apple should go all in and get to work on the iHolodeck. 

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

Between work, school, and wasting time, it’s got to be in the hundreds. I have them on me constantly!

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

QuickSwitch - QuickSwitch is an alternative app to control Wemo devices, but I bought it specifically because it includes the widget element, whereas the official Wemo app did not. Now it’s just one simple swipe down and I can toggle or adjust all of my devices.

2Do - The little 2Do widget can be customized to display whichever lists the main app that I designate, but I like to keep mine set to only show overdue tasks that I’ve tagged as “important," but still haven’t completed. When my alarm wakes me up in the morning and I want to roll back over to sleep, that’s when this widget really shines. My workflow is simple: swipe down to access the widget, glance over the ultra-crucial tasks I didn’t do yesterday, panic while imagining the consequences, and just like that, I’m up! Carpe diem!

MacID - From this widget, I can lock/unlock my Mac, start a screensaver, or send the iPad’s secure clipboard data to the Mac—all with just one swipe down and one tap. 

Evernote - I love how Evernote is all about accessibility. This widget acts as a launcher for creating/adding new Evernote elements on-the-fly. It can also search through my indexed notes and preview my most recently viewed ones for quick access. 

What is your favorite feature of the iPad Pro?

My favorite feature of the iPad Pro has got to be the screen real estate, especially when combined with the split screen multitasking technology we got with iOS 9. I use this feature all the time to quickly respond to messages without interrupting my workflow. I can’t imagine ever going back!

What’s your wallpaper and why?

My wallpaper is a digital painting by my incredibly talented girlfriend Megan. She made it on her iPad Mini 4 using the Paper 53 Pencil.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I just want to say thank you for all the guidance and encouragement you give to Mac nerds like me, and that it’s a huge privilege to contribute to Home Screens!   Oh, and I’ll give a shout out to the fantastic ASU Polytechnic School IT Program. Go Devils!

Home Screens: Eugene Gordin

I love meeting fellow nerds on the Internet but I also like meeting them in real life. Recently I went to see a screening of the Steve Jobs movie with some friends and was introduced to Eugene Gordin (website). Eugene is a structural engineer and passionate about his Apple gear. I love to see how smart people use their technology and Eugene is no different. So Eugene, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Hands down (see what I did there), I’d have to say Reeder and Tweetbot. When on my iPhone, I pretty much live in those. I use Tweetbot mainly for information consumption - I rarely actually tweet unless its to a specific person. With Reeder, I’ve been a big fan and loyal beta tester since before 1.0. I’ve tried every RSS reader out there, and always come back to Reeder.

I’m not a big social networker, but I do like sharing photos of my son with our extended family. We use a service called Lifecake, which despite its weird name is geared toward this very use. It has some very creative features, and although development seems to have slowed since they were acquired by Canon, its still one of my favorites on my phone.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Thanks to your recommendation, I’m now playing Alto’s Adventure. I’m not at all a gamer, but that game is highly addictive. In addition to beautiful graphics, its got a very gradual learning curve. I’d say I’m hooked because I’m also a snowboarder, but the game has little in common with actual snowboarding. It’d be nice if backflips were that easy.

What app makes you most productive? 

1Password - without a doubt. It seems like all day long I’m logging into things, and 1Password on the iPhone is so incredibly useful, beautifully designed, and with Touch ID, its blazingly fast to use.

Other than that, I’d have to say Mail. When on the go, responding quickly, or triaging incoming email is so easy. The iPhone Mail experience feels desktop class, so much so that I’m always surprised that I see people with signatures that say "Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse any typos.” In my experience, unless you’re not proofreading, there’s little reason why an email from an iPhone would have more typos. 

We use Daylite in my company so that’s definitely nice to have on the iPhone as well, particularly when I need more information about a certain project, client, or company. I’m an Omnifocus user for tasks, although I’ve really tried to simplify my to-do list as much as possible in order to stick with it.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

I’m so glad there’s no way to check. If you ask my wife, she’d say too many. I’m on it all day, and with the battery life that iPhone 6S Plus gets, I can do that without worrying much about running out of juice.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

It’d be a toss up between Touch ID and 3D Touch, both of which significantly improved the iOS experience. While the lock screen is where I use Touch ID the most, it is also a great timesaver for apps like 1Password and Amazon. Touch ID feels like the future, each time I use it.

3D Touch has changed how I use my phone - I use the “peak" and “pop” gestures all day. It will be even better once more developers add 3D Touch integration. The latest update to Reeder (3.0) added support for 3D Touch, and it is much appreciated. 

What's your wallpaper and why?

My lock screen wallpaper is a cropped version of Brock Davis’ Broccoli House. Why? Broccoli always reminded me of little trees, and this photograph was just so perfect. Also broccoli is delicious. 

Anything else you'd like to share?

One app that I haven’t seen recommended anywhere is Kinohunt, which monitors the iTunes and Amazon video stores for sales. I’m rarely in a rush to buy a movie, but I do have ones I’d like to buy. Kinohunt lets you make a list of movies you want to buy or rent, and it will notify you when they’re on sale.

Home Screens: Lon Seidman

This week’s home screen features You-Tuber Lon Seidman (YouTube) (Twitter) (Facebook). Lon does video reviews of technology products and he loves his iPhone. So Lon, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

I spend most of my time using the Inbox app for managing my Gmail accounts, OmniFocus (of course!) for managing my life, the YouTube creator app for my channel’s analytics and engagement, Downcast for listening to Mac Power Users and many other podcasts, and a bunch of social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

These days it’s Pac-Man 256 - a Pac-Man endless runner that’s probably the best retro inspired game I’ve played in a long time. And I will admit I look at Facebook quite a bit too. But it’s smart enough to know I am only interested in seeing pictures of dogs and babies.

What app makes you most productive?

Google’s Inbox app. It’s similar in some ways to Mailbox from Dropbox, but it does some things better like bulk categorization of mail for easy sortation. So unlike the lousy Gmail tabs, the Inbox method is to display those bulk categories into inline groupings that expand within the inbox stream. Really slick and very easy to quickly review messages.

The app works great across all of the many platforms I use (including the web) and has really helped bring some sanity to how I go through my email box. The workflow is so efficient that I can pop in quickly and keep things neat and tidy throughout the day. It also lets me create custom groupings based on specific tags.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

I am sure I am not alone in saying Workflow is tremendously underutilized on my iPhone. I am starting to find more and more uses for it which is great but I know it can do a lot more than what I’m currently tasking it with.

What is the app you are still missing?

That’s a good question. I wish I was smart enough to think of the app that I’m missing so I can invent it and have a very profitable exit!

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

My iPhone constantly - especially because I can “tend the garden” of my three email accounts very quickly and efficiently while waiting on a line, etc. The funny thing is that since I bought my iPhone 6 I am using the iPad less. The larger screen on the 6 vs. the 5s it replaced was just enough to take some tasks away from the iPad.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I have never been much of a widget guy so my today view isn’t something I look at often. I do find the Plugshare app’s view of nearby electric car charging stations really useful. That’s primarily what I use the today screen for if I’m traveling and looking for some free juice for my ride.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The first thing that came to mind with this question was Touch ID. It has probably saved me hours over the course of the year by not having to type in my passcode over and over again. Every time I test phones and tablets on competing platforms it’s the first thing I miss having.

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

I would be less restrictive with the things users can do on the platform. A great example is comparing something like the Android-based Nvidia Shield TV to the Apple TV. Google is much more flexible in allowing apps like game and computer emulators, and other apps that do things to help third party apps work better together or with the underlying OS.

It would be nice for Apple to treat iOS like the Mac and give users the option to install apps from sources other than the app-store eco system. I know they are mindful of security but there are a lot of fun things I can do on Android that I can’t do on Apple without jailbreaking.

Do you have an Apple Watch?

I do! It’s funny I didn’t think I was going to use the Apple Watch much but now it’s part of my routine. I like the small conveniences it provides as well as the fitness tracking. Apple Pay on the watch is amazing and I use it all the time.

I recently switched to a traditional watch face after using the modular one for awhile. My daughter always requests the butterfly version so that’s in rotation too.

I should have opted for the sapphire face vs. the glass as I already have a gash in mine :-(.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

My wallpaper is a picture of my daughter I took the day she was born. It’s the best photo I’ve ever taken which also happens to be of my favorite subject :).

Anything else you’d like to share?

I am continually in awe of my 2012 Macbook Pro Retina. It is in use helping me work probably 12–16 hours a day. It’s my primary desktop computer for my day job (plugged into a Thunderbolt dock) and is what I use for editing all of my YouTube videos. I have never owned a computer that’s been this useful for so long since my Apple II from the 80’s. I will likely replace it when the Skylake version comes out as I am starting to do more with 4k video.

My Home Screen: iOS 9 Edition

While I'm usually featuring someone else's home screen, with the release of iOS 9 and a few other developments, I thought I'd share my own home screen today. So, here goes.

My home screen is always in motion. For example, the Notes app is currently in my dock because I'm still testing it as a potential full-time notes solution. Camera is likewise in the dock because the 3D touch buttons on the Photos application icon make keeping the app on my home screen suddenly relevant again. Audible is another example. I don't usually keep it on the home screen but I've been listening to James Corey's Expanse Series so I want quick access.

Drafts is still a thing for me. Even with iOS 9, I like the ability to start dictating text with one press. I also admire the way Drafts keeps evolving to take advantage of new iOS features. It's now 3D touch-friendly.

Unread is under new management but still manages to hold onto the whimsey that makes it my RSS tool of choice.

About two months ago, I got tired of looking at Tweetbot on the iPad and switched over to the native Twitter app. About the time I started figuring out the official app, Tweetbot released its new version with much better iPad support and I went back without thinking twice.

1Password is another application that I like to keep on my home screen. I've got so much data in there and want easy access. Secure notes are a great feature in 1Password if you want to keep something important behind a separate security wall.

I haven't decided if the App Store deserves to be on home screen but with all the post-iOS 9 app updates, it's going to stay there for at least the next month.

The strangest development is that my home screen is now my only screen. Katie Floyd made the suggestion in a recent episode of Mac Power Users. She split all her additional apps into just 4 folders. I tried it and was skeptical at first but I think I'm sold. The folders are Productivity, Reference, Utility, and Fun, I've put the most frequently used apps in each category in that first page and I can now get to my favorite apps without swiping away from the home screen.

My wallpaper is another thing constantly in motion. The current one is a picture of a gray brick wall that I like (for now).

If I were in charge at Apple, I'd continue to give iOS more power-user features. I understand how they want to keep things simple but as iOS evolves, the operating system needs more power tools. 3D Touch is a great start. It's easy to use and easily ignorable. More of that please.


Home Screens: Brian Sutich

Brian Sutich (Twitter) is a huge Apple guy who writes over at TheAppFactor.com and Sutich.org. Brian’s a man of many hats as a dad, musician, and audio engineer. So Brian, show us your home screen.

My homescreen is a little crazy, but it has a method to its madness. I try to put my most used apps where I can reach them, and I use Spotlight search so much, that it almost doesn’t matter where the icons are at this point.

What are some of your favorite apps?

I’ve installed 1Password on every device I own, and that coupled with TextExpander are auto-installs I couldn’t live without because of how much time they save me.

Speaking of time-savers, Slack came out of nowhere and now I’m subscribed to multiple channels. I enjoy it a heck of a lot more than email, and I’ve met some great folks through using it. 

I left Spotify this year for Apple Music, and I haven’t had any of the problems yet (fingers crossed) that people have complained about. I love Apple Music because of their catalog, Beats 1, and the curation. I have big hopes for the app as it gets updated. 

For photography I use a combination of Obscura to take photos, and Pixelmator to edit them. Those apps are so powerful at this point, that they truly feel desktop-class. 

For journaling and trying to figure life out, I’m using Day One. I love the design on both iOS and OS X. I try to journal as much as possible and I’ve found it has had a huge positive impact on my life. 

I’m also using Paprika for collecting recipes I’m looking to try and cook. I haven’t burned anything yet!

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

It has to be a tie between Tweetbot and Overcast. I check Twitter more than I’d like to admit and Tweetbot has been my favorite client on iOS and OS X. I’m subscribed to tons of podcasts in Overcast (so I can listen to alllll the great shows), and some months I listen to more podcasts than I do music. I can’t wait for the update to Overcast, but I also have my eye on what’ll happen with the new version of Castro.

What app makes you most productive?

For getting stuff done, it’s a combination of FantasticalTodoist and Due. Each app gives me something different for long term, medium, and short term tasks I have to get done. 

On the writing side, I’d say it’s a combination of EditorialBlink, and Clips. All great apps that help me put together an article right on my iPhone.

Finally, Nike +Pedometer ++ and Get Moving have all helped me in my quest to get in shape. I just finished my first 10K this month! 

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Definitely Pythonista. I know it’s a powerhouse, and I’m trying to learn the language a bit every day. Slowly but surely I’m using it more and more. I need to read more Dr. Drang!

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

Quite a bit. I love my 128 GB iPhone, and I guess you could call me an app hoarder. At the time of this post, my installed app count was nearing 700 apps. I’m always looking to try something new to see what sticks.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I’m using a bunch. Some of my favorites are Launcher, which I use to launch directions to home, Shazam a song, open Apple Music and more. I also use Carrot Weather, which has a detailed and good looking forecast. I use Clips and Drafts to manipulate text. I use Shipments to track anything headed to my house, and I use Today Steps to see my step count info.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

My favorite feature is that it truly has become a mini computer that allows me to do just about anything. While the iPhone and iPad haven’t replaced my Mac yet, they’re not far off from being able to handle anything you throw at them.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

It’s an amazing Empire Strikes Back movie poster zoomed in. It combines both my love of Star Wars and the color orange. (Two gold stars to Brian! -David)

Anything else you’d like to share?

Apple devices have literally changed my life. It’s so great we can share what makes us productive and happy. Thanks so much for having me, it’s an honor!

Thanks Brian!

Home Screen: Jazz Pianist Bob Karty

This week’s home screen features geek and jazz pianist Bob Karty (Website). I’ve been corresponding with Bob via email for some time. For years, Bob has been a sideman, playing with some of the best jazz acts in the San Francisco Bay area. Bob is now running this Kickstarter project to fund his own album and I thought it would be a great opportunity to look at Bob’s favorite music apps. So Bob, let’s see it.

I’m a professional jazz pianist and a music teacher, and I use my iPad a lot every day.

I use play-along tracks both for my own practicing and with my students. The tracks are in my iTunes library, which is stored on a Synology DS212j network drive. I play the tracks via Synology’s DS File app on my iPad, and the audio streams to a Marantz AV7005 pre-pro with built-in Air Play. It’s wonderful to have instant access to not only the play-alongs but my entire music library.

For casual listening, I use Synology’s DS Audio app.

If a play-along track is at a tempo that’s too fast for a student, or if they’re playing a song for which there’s no commercially-available play-along, I use an app called iReal Pro. iReal Pro consists of chord charts and a MIDI playback engine which reads the charts and plays them back using drums, bass, and piano or guitar sounds. You can instantly change a song’s key and tempo. The playback engine includes a mixer, so pianists turn off the piano track and practice along with bass and drums.

Most of the bands I work with have their own printed music charts of original songs. But if someone sits in and wants to sing a jazz standard I don’t know, the charts in iReal Pro come in handy.

In teaching Afro-Cuban/salsa/Latin jazz piano, I have students play along with rhythm accompaniment from an app called Salsa Rhythm. Originally designed for dancers, it’s very useful for musicians too. Pianists need to learn how to fit into the complex grooves in a very specific way, and this app is a great aid to that process.

Another app I use frequently is the Yamaha Metronome. There are many metronome apps, but this is my favorite - simple, straightforward, and accurate. You’d think a metronome would be accurate by definition, but I found one that wasn’t true, despite claims by the developer that it was “the most accurate” in the app store.

For students of music theory, I often recommend the Interval Ear Trainer module in an app called Tenuto. Tenuto contains drills and exercises for learning theory, while its companion app, Theory Lessons, covers the lessons. The Ear Trainer plays a musical interval, and you tap on the screen to identify it. It’s customizable to adapt to different skill levels, and students have a lot of fun with it.

A couple of brief mentions of clever and useful apps for audio engineers: Speaker Angle helps you set the toe-in angle of your monitor speakers, which helps improve the sound. Stereo Mic Tools uses the iPhone or iPad’s camera to help you position microphones in stereo recording configurations, which require precision positioning in order to capture the sound accurately.

Home Screen Post: Chelsea Cook

This week’s home screen features Chelsea Cook. Chelsea is an impressive young woman. She has a physics degree from Virginia Tech, has given her very own TED talk, and happens to be blind. Chelsea enjoys astronomy, reading, and creative writing. Her ultimate goal is to become an astronaut who writes poetry in space. Chelsea also loves her iPhone. So Chelsea, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Wow, that’s hard, as I’m always downloading and trying out new ones. I like Downcast and ooTunes for audio, FlightView for tracking flights and gates at the airport (sometimes faster than the airlines and mitigates having to ask gate agents if you know the airport), and Check the Weather because it tells you the weather forecast so precisely without having to swipe through a bunch of information. It also includes “feels like” temperatures, which is important in the high humidity-environment of the east Coast.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Definitely iAssociate 2. The developer has made a great effort at making the game both VoiceOver-friendly and fun to play. I bounce back and forth between different games to help me get to sleep, (another one is 2048) but I always come back to this one. When I’m in the mood for something humorous, I’ll pop open the Cracked Reader

What app makes you most productive?

Sometimes it’s more the general features of the iPhone. When I got Siri, my productivity went way up, as it was just easier to add something to my calendar or make a reminder by voice than by typing. Siri helps in my homework as well by looking up astronomical conversions for me that I just put into a calculator as she reads them back. If I had to choose an app, though, I’d say… Mail. Before the iPhone, I was chained to my computer for email, and that was not very convenient for picking up things on the other side of campus. Now, I plan my day around my inbox in real time. Mail helps me manage the deluge, but also is a quick way for professors to communicate with me if they’ve gone out for coffee and I can’t read the note on the office door. I always hated carrying cash until I got the LookTel Money Reader; I didn’t want to carry around another device just to read bills, and this app is quick and accurate. My iPhone is with me all the time, so my currency reader is with me all the time, too. (I LOVE ApplePay for so many reasons, but the convenience and privacy can’t be beat anywhere else.)

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

For sure: Workflow1Password, and blindSquare. Touch ID would probably make 1Password a whole lot easier to use. I like Workflow a lot, but have to be creative and spend some time actually thinking up things to do. And blindSquare is a multi-featured GPS solution that, combined with AppleMaps, has a lot of power and a lot of layers.

What is the app you are still missing?

The iPhone has opened up the world of apps so that as the device gets better, the apps get better; most of the specialized devices I used to carry around in a backpack now fit in my pocket. I still think the touch screen has huge potential to display mathematical content like matrices or graphs in a way that can be spatially understood by someone who is blind, similar to how you know where the icons on the home screen are. I know this is not an easy thing to code, but a VoiceOver-friendly graphing calculator or matrix manipulator would be awesome!

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

Almost all the time. iOS is so powerful and has so much potential. I use my iPhone when I’m out and the iPad when I’m home or traveling, because of that long battery life. I love having a charged phone to get me to my destination after a long drive or flight. My poor MacBook air is usually relegated to the tasks of “heavy duty”, “long session”, or “needs hardware keyboard”. 

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

Today view is one of those underutilized features for me, because I don’t want it to get too cluttered. I mainly use Calendar and Dropbox, to see if events and assignments have appeared yet. I find the interface to be a bit clunky for some apps, and spend more time in there than I would like.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Easily the versatility of these devices. I’ve always hated carrying around many devices (worrying about charging them, losing them, not having the right one for the job), so have been firmly entrenched in that “one device to rule them all” camp. Need a GPS? iPhone. Book reader? all different books in one place on the 128 GB iPad. So for me, it’s not one feature, but all of them, nicely wrapped up in a single, shiny package.

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

Another loaded question. I’d demolish and rework iTunes on the Mac—but that’s for another post. I wouldn’t sacrifice performance or features for thinness, particularly in some of their machines. An iPad or a laptop makes perfect sense to be thin and light; a desktop Mac does not. (Can you tell I miss the SuperDrive in the old iMacs?) I would also want desperately to fix the television interfaces, or at least unleash the content from cable providers, especially their audio-described content. I know there has been a general trend (in both blind and sighted communities) griping about apple’s software lacking in quality, and I am glad to see that they are addressing it, so hopefully my small software pain points and bugs will go away.

Do you have an Apple Watch? Show us your watch face tell us about it.

My AppleWatch is growing on me, as I figured it would. When I’m having fun or feeling geeky, I love showing off the astronomy face and entertaining questions about our universe. When I want to be practical the rest of the time, I find the Modular face for me to be a good balance of information, provided you choose your complications carefully. I can’t wait to really take the appleWatch for a walk in a big city and release the power of maps. Oh, and add “tactile way of telling the time!!!” to the Apple changes above. I love having access to Siri on my wrist for things like quick texts and cooking timers. This device has been a long time coming, and it can only get better.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I changed it when iOS 8 dropped, so don’t exactly remember which is my home screen and which is my lock screen anymore, but I always put in the space or astronomy-themed wallpapers. Something to do with galaxies this time around.

Anything else you’d like to share?

When I say iOS devices have been life changing, I’m not understating that. I can go to a new city and navigate independently. I can take pictures of money and documents without having to ask someone to read them to me. I can use the Internet and apps to collect all kinds of information that was previously unavailable or very hard to find and I can connect to a community who really cares about interfaces and experiences. I believe all those things, and more about the iPhone. Thanks, David, for giving me this opportunity.

Oh, and if people want to find more about my work, they can watch a TEDX video of me playing with 3D math shapes.

Home Screens: Maury Hill

This week's home screen features Maury Hill (Twitter). Maury spends most of his time developing CRM tools for Windows at MetaStock but also happens to be a big Mac nerd. As Maury explained to me, he does Windows development from his retina MacBook and iOS devices via Jump Desktop. Go Maury! So, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

OmniFocusDrafts, and iThoughts. My brain could not relax without the ability to get things off my mind, view them when necessary, and just plain lay things out before my eyes. I also love using Overcast to discover all things Apple from MPU

I have to mention Due and the harassment it delivers, helping me to get the easy to ignore, day to day things done. What would I do if I forgot my pills or laundry?

I also have to confess I’m having an affair with Siri. I talk to it all day long on all of my devices, including the Watch. 

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

TweetBot and Reeder. I spend far too much time in these apps. Reeder is essential to stay up to date, but Tweetbot lets me peer into the lives of other geeks like me. I can also complain to app developers. 

Honestly, I wish there were Desert Golf scholarships when I went to school. I just need to delete that app. 

What app makes you most productive?

This is on the verge of becoming an OmniFocus review. I have to get things off my mind to stop thinking about them. Along with Siri, this app makes it easy. OmniFocus shows me tasks when I need to see them and thanks to Review mode, which I have never found in similar apps, I can prioritize projects and focus on what’s important now. 

Continuing to regurgitate others’ posts, Drafts is also wonderful. I love it’s widget, which allows me to dump the clipboard into a new draft and use it in searches or even for processing queries in DropBox files by one of my SQL Servers, returning query results, opened via its widget. I use Hygia to accomplish that. It is “Hazel” for Windows. 

The Apple Watch helps me stay off my phone and focus on what I should be doing, which is writing more bugs. 

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

WorkflowHazel, and Editorial. I read so much about these from MacSparky, MacDrifter, and Viticci, but I just never find the time to explore them. I think the fault rests on the shoulders of the awesome newborn boy my wife and I adopted last year. :) [That’s a pretty good reasy Maury. -Sparky]

What is the app you are still missing?

Not an app, but more Siri integration. I would like VoiceOver to be more reliable for reading out notifications, and I would love to tell Overcast to play specific podcasts, or have Workflow run specific tasks with my voice. 

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

My wife could give you an exact count. I don’t think the phone leaves my hand. I’m definitely an addict in need of a disconnect.

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

I heard somewhere that only 20% of the features you release are used by 80% of your users. It certainly is true of the fruits of my code, so I cannot blame Apple for not adding “power user” features. But I wouldn’t mind if the track pad feature for the iPad came back for the iPhone and if Hey Siri were accessible even when not on power. 

I’m a grown up Apple. Let me drain my battery at light speed and fumble the cursor around. Just have a setting to disable it for everyone else!

Thanks Maury.

Home Screens: Jaco Muller

This week’s home screen post features Jaco Muller (Twitter). Jaco is a MacSparky reader and Mac Power Users listener. Jaco is also the guy that wrote this script to use my TextExpander script in Outlook. So Jaco, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Overcast must be one of my current favorites. I subscribe to 9 podcasts, most of which have episodes longer than 80 minutes. Before Overcast I couldn’t get through all the podcasts in a week’s commute time, but now it’s a breeze. I also use Mail, OmnifocusEvernote1Password and Whatsapp many times during the day.

I also think Wunderlist is absolutely fantastic. It does one thing only - managing list(s) - but does it very well. My wife and I use it for a shared shopping list and it does the job much better than Evernote. The key is that each entry on a list is being synced as a separate item, as opposed to an entire list being synced. The result is that individual entries made from different devices are updated immediately without sync errors.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

TwitterReddit and Facebook, but they’re not on my home screen because they are distracting and time consuming. I also check into Meerkat and Periscope from time to time, because I believe they can possibly evolve into apps that can change how breaking news spreads in future.

What app makes you most productive?

I use Omnifocus mainly to view the current list of tasks and to tick them off once completed. However, the simple process of adding a task into Omnifocus means that I can ‘forget’ about it and focus on the task at hand. This simple ability to add something ‘on the go’ and trust the system behind it is probably the single item that adds most to my productivity. I rarely use it for more complex purposes like reviews, adding context or details etc. to tasks.

Drafts is a close second. The ability to open it and start typing immediately works well in real life situations where one’s focus is supposed to be on something else, i.e. during a conversation or on a phone call etc.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Workflow. I know it has the potential to eliminate a lot of mundane tasks, but I haven’t sat down and spent time with it to understand it well enough. Perhaps some basic documentation or an FAQ would help - i.e. I have some unanswered questions about how variables are passed on during a workflow.

What is the app you are still missing?

Not an app, but a feature that I think may make iOS more user friendly to me, is the ability to ‘auto arrange’ apps, based on usage, time of day, etc. Of course one should be able to pin a few apps to remain static, but at the same time leave a few spaces available for dynamic auto arranging of apps. I’d just like apps that are being used more, to gravitate towards the home screen by themselves.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

I work in an office on a mac, but whenever I get up to walk somewhere, I grab the phone and catch up on social media etc.

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

It would be great if Apple could somehow use their purchase power to loosen the grip that content owners have on the distribution and licensing of content outside of the US. For those of us living outside of the US, it makes less and less sense that a movie or series is being released in the US while we only get to see it (legally) much later. In many cases it’s not even available to purchase online at all. For example, a proper online music streaming service like Spotify wasn’t available in South Africa where I live until Apple Music became available with the release of iOS8.4. I’d like to see the same happening with movies and series.

Thanks Jaco

Home Screens: Matt Alexander

Matt Alexander (Twitter) was one of the most impressive guys I met at WWDC this year. In addition to the fact Matt is a geek, he's also an entrepreneur. Most recently Matt started a few companies: Need, that specializes in curating collections of men's clothing, accessories, and lifestyle products; and Foremost, that sells limited-run, American made clothing. Lots of people have big dreams. Matt just keeps making them happen. So Matt, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

I tend to live in Fantastical, Tweetbot, Reeder, Mailbox, and Slack.

(All of which feel very obvious and dull in retrospect.)

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Snapchat or Facebook.

On the former, I feel like I'm perpetually ten years too old to be using it so frequently. I do love it, though. (And, as a side note, it's a really great tool to use as a brand.)

On the latter, it's gross and everyone hates it, but I just can't quit. I've been a member since 2005 or so and, as such, have cultivated a great deal of connections — in England (where I grew up) and the US (where I live and went to university) — whilst it has also captured a huge amount of my formative moments.

I also have the Dominos app. Which is an app for ordering Dominos pizza.

Which is bad.

What app makes you most productive? 

Well, that's rather difficult.

In many respects, I suppose, I could say Mailbox. After all, that's where I deal with the vast majority of my correspondence.

Truly, though, I think Slack is my most productive app.

We run all of Need and Foremost in Slack — and we rarely email within the company any more — so it's become my go-to mechanism to check in with the team and ensure we're on the right track.

I've got a number of our tools (e.g., Braintree, GoSquared, and ZenDesk) setup to report directly into Slack, too. So, when I'm out and about, I can quickly glance at a private channel or two and get an immediate understanding of what's happening with the company.

Fantastical also ranks highly, but I just don't rely on it as much as I do the unique characteristics of Mailbox and Slack. It's more of a much better solution than it is something entirely different.

What app do you know you're underutilizing?

OmniFocus and Things are always installed. And I know I ought to be using one of the two a lot more. (I'm aware that many are yelling in favor of OmniFocus right now, too.)

Nonetheless, I struggle with staying on top of my to-do apps.

I tend to keep most of my day-to-day tasks on track without much of a system. I know people are probably shuddering, but my mind is always with me and up-to-date. My apps, on the other hand, are not.

Which is, admittedly, my fault. I'd be lying to myself, though, if I thought I'd suddenly change my habits drastically in that regard.

What is the app you are still missing?

Apps for Need and Foremost, of course.

I'm kidding. I'm not that terrible. (Although we are working on both. Hint.)

Seriously, I'd love an app that allows me to manage both of my companies a little more seamlessly. Where Slack has obviated email and brought my team much closer together, I'd love to see someone take on the broader workplace.

All of our documents and services live online, but I'd love a quick glance dashboard to gauge our traffic, sales, tasks, and so on.

Many such services exist on the desktop — Grow is a good one — where all your disparate metrics and points of interest are collated.

On my phone, though, I move between a wide selection of apps, many of which I simply ignore.

Equally, I'd settle for an app for GoSquared.

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

I live on my iPhone throughout the day. It'd be impossible to count.

With regard to the iPad, I have an iPad mini 2, but its usage is limited to reading and playing embarrassing games on the sofa.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

In order, I have Launcher at the top as a quick launch directory for Weather, Google Maps, OmniFocus (which is fittingly embarrassing), and Uber. 

I have ESPN for football scores. (The football with feet, rather than the American one with hands.)

Stocks. Because I have two companies and need to make myself feel like I know what I'm doing.

I then have Swarm, Fantastical, and MailChimp. The former two are obvious. The latter I use very simply to watch our subscriber growth each day.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

It's been said before, but I'm genuinely able to run my businesses from my iPhone.

Regardless of where I am in the world, I can rely upon my phone (for the most part) to enable me to run the day-to-day components of the company.

And that's really an amazing thing.

A massive runner-up is iMessage. As someone who moved away from home in 2006, it was always difficult for me to stay in touch with my friends for years. And then iMessage came along and it became free, easy, and built-in. It was an enormous moment for me.

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

I'd love longer battery life.

Whenever I'm traveling, I don't have all-day access to charging cables at my desk. So, I often find myself with battery anxiety.

And I refuse to use a battery case. Or a case in general. Because I'm not an animal.

I'd also love to be able to set default apps for particular tasks. I always get a little sad when I inadvertently wind up in Mail or Calendar.

I realize that'd open a can of worms for many people — and I understand that extensions help — but I'd genuinely appreciate the flexibility.

Do you have an Apple Watch?

I do, indeed. I have a 42mm Stainless Steel Apple Watch with Black Sport Band.

I use the Utility face — sans numbers — with a red seconds hand.

It's extremely minimalistic — perhaps to the point of pointlessness — but I love it.

I've always worn minimal watches — which I miss everyday when wearing the Apple Watch — and the pared down Utility face is the closest consolation I can find.

What's your wallpaper and why?

Hoyoung Lee took a photo of three Need tie bars sitting on top of a stack of Need pocket squares during our launch party in November 2013.

It's the background on every device I own.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Thanks for having me! I promise to try to improve on the productivity front.

 

Home Screens: Joe Buhlig

Recently I stumbled into Joe Buhlig’s Blog and got lost for an hour. Joe (Twitter) likes to write about appropriate uses of technology and I think he’s great. So Joe, show us your home screen.

Notes about my home screen

I keep it simple. My home screen is designed around the apps that make me productive. Apps that don’t (like analytics apps or social media) are buried in folders. I try to keep everything on one page - the outcome is a slim home screen and iPhone.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Drafts

I’m using Drafts more and more. Every ad-hoc idea or task gets captured here. I carry note cards around but the power of Drafts has me entering my note card data into it. It can do so much auto-parsing that it’s easier to put it here as opposed to entering the metadata in other apps.

Workflow

David and Katie have had a number of conversations about this app on MPU and I’m always finding new uses for it. Our youngest daughter was born a few months ago and I used Workflow to send out the announcement texts. 

Group text messages for announcements always drive me crazy. Your puppy is cute, but I really don’t need your great uncle Hank’s phone number. In an effort to be nice to my friends and relatives, I created a workflow to send the same text to every person individually. 

I added blanks to a text message for the expected details - time, height, weight, and length. When our daughter was born, I filled in the details of the message and ran the workflow. It took that base text (and picture), looped through a group of assigned people, and sent the same text message to each person separately. No group message and uncle Hank’s phone number is safe.

Launch Center Pro

At first glance, you could say that Launch Center Pro and Workflow are similar apps, but I would say that’s a miss. LCP is extremely fast at starting a task and Workflow is great at creating new functionality. I like to add my workflows as actions in LCP in order to get new functionality started extremely fast.

TheBrain

I don’t see TheBrain talked about much, but it helps me make interesting connections. Think of it as mind-mapping that allows you to have a different mindmap for each node you create. And you can pull nodes from other places in your Brain to create deep links within the map. 

For example, I have a map inside TheBrain for people that I’ve met. I also have a map of places in the world in the same Brain (it’s nice that computers now allow us to have more than one brain). I can connect each person to a location. But I can also connect them to mindsets that we have in common or favorite drinks. The next time I go to New York, TheBrain helps me remember that John is out there. I dig deeper and see that he prefers a macchiato at Starbucks. So I set up a side meeting with John for coffee and talk about his recent trip to Utah.

1Password

You know it’s a great app when you use it constantly and yet forget about it. 1Password is that way for me. I use it on all of my devices every day. I’m lost if I have to type in a password somewhere. Even copy/pasting a password is weird anymore. If a new app doesn’t allow me to log in with 1Password, I’m prone to dropping it and finding one that does.

TextExpander

Once you use TextExpander you’ll wonder why you didn’t pick it up sooner. From typing my email address to writing long-form email responses to lipsums, it’s integral to my use of Apple devices.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Editorial is one of the more recent additions to my home screen. Just like Workflow and Launch Center Pro, Editorial can be a time suck. There are so many ways to alter text from my phone now. Editorial has single-handedly led me to consider a keyboard case for my iPad. 

What app makes you most productive?

Drafts. It helps me stay on task by making it easy to get things out of my head. Naturally, OmniFocus would be a close second, but keeping me on task is a lot harder than deciding which task.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Drafts, Workflow, and Launch Center Pro. I use them all the time, but I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what they can do. If I would spend more time with these apps instead of goofing on Twitter I might create something unique with them.

What is the app you are still missing?

I would like to know how much time I spend in each app. Maybe iOS 9 will open the door to this, but I’d like to have some way for it to alert me after a designated amount of time in a given app. Something that helps me control my iPhone habit. 

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

Too many. I catch myself checking it any time I have a few seconds.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

Touch ID. It’s so easy to keep your phone (and many apps) locked and yet really easy to get into. This feature makes apps like 1Password magical. 

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

I’d like to see Apple spend some time perfecting the interplay mechanisms. AirPlay, AirDrop, and Handoff are great concepts. I just don’t find myself using them very often because they’re unreliable.

Deeper connectivity between apps. It sounds like we’re getting some of this with the Universal Links in iOS 9, but allowing developers deeper access to the system could open things up. It could allow Workflow and Launch Center Pro to gain power, make my app tracker possible, and start to make “iOS only” people more common.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

It’s one of the stock Apple wallpapers. I like using a dark background on any app I can. It keeps my phone from being a light bulb and makes it easier on my eyes.

Anything else you’d like to share?

As I was writing this, I realized that my iPhone is all about getting work done. That’s not necessarily bad, but breaks are important. My home screen proves I’m not the best at slowing down. Maybe I need an app for that.

Thanks Joe.

Home Screens: Joe Darnell

This week’s home screen features Joe Darnell (Twitter) (Blog). Joe produces the TechTonic podcast where he and Josua Peiffer talk about technology. Joe also harnesses all of his geeky superpowers to talk about coffee at Top Brew. You may know of Joe from his creation of the popular “Focus” wallpapers, that I still use. So Joe, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Well, my home screen is a great representation of all my favorites. I start the day with Unread, use Overcast throughout, and after dark I’ll be deep within my Instapaper queue. At some point, all the other home screen apps are utilized for their intended purposes almost every day. 

Everyone I know likes to talk about their favorite Twitter or photo apps. They are important, for sure, but I’d rather highlight others that don’t get the attention that they deserve. Of note…

Rdio

My favorite music genre is movie soundtracks. They’re far more entertaining than classical music, and they’re easy to listen to while you’re at work — rarely are there lyrics that demand my attention. 

It’s not the most popular genre, let me tell you, so music services don’t especially serve my tastes. As I write this, I’m listening to the Tron: Legacy original motion picture soundtrack by Daft Punk. Then I’ll probably segway into The Bourne Supremacy’s by John Powell. In general, I’ve found that Rdio meets my interests: a readable interface and a wide range of albums.

Rdio’s is the most visually attractive of popular music services, in my opinion. Their design was reminiscent of OS X Yosemite’s and iOS 7’s flat design before they were introduced in 2013. Rdio seamlessly works the way I want my music, even though it’s missing a few albums I would love, like the Cloud Atlas soundtrack.

I was turned on to Rdio by this video by Sandwich Video. 

Thunderspace

This is another app that I discovered thanks to a great videoThunderspace features immersive thunderstorm and rain sounds that improve the quality of momentary relaxation and meditation. If I have a few minutes to spare on my schedule and it’s been a stressful day, I’ll find a dimly lit room, kick back, and listen to a thunderstorm for ten minutes. Very quickly I’ll unwind and clear my head.

Thunderspace isn’t essential to how I use my iPhone, but I have to say it has been one of the more effective apps. The sounds are rich, the interface demonstrates the developers’ thoughtful creativity, and I’m very happy to pay for each of the audio tracks — some of the best in-app purchases I’ve ever made.

Instapaper

This app is well known, but it’s impact shouldn’t be overlooked. I purchased my first iPhone with Instapaper in mind. Before Instapaper, I wasn’t convinced that I would get enough value from an iPhone. But for many years, I’ve juggled articles ‘saved for later’. On average, I read ten articles and watch three videos a day with Instapaper’s help.

With my Apple Watch, I’m using Instapaper and Overcast similarly. While exercising or doing the dishes, I’ll listen to Instapaper articles read aloud by Siri and control playback via the Watch. There’s a world of difference between how I mentally process articles I’ve heard versus articles I’ve read. When I’m listening to more sophisticated articles, I’m convinced I retain information better.

What app is your guilty pleasure?

At present, I’m subscribed to 47 podcasts using Overcast, so that has to be my guilty pleasure. But it’s more like my guiltless pleasure since my shoulder angel seems to like podcasts almost as much as I do.

Most of the time, I listen to all of my subscriptions’ new episodes from week to week. Just occasionally, I’ll skim some of the lengthier episodes. Overcast works exceptionally well for this, thanks to Smart Speed and regular playback Speed controls that maintain the quality of audio while accelerating the overall content. This way, podcasts don’t sound rushed even when they technically are. Since I downloaded Overcast in July 2014, I’ve saved ‘an extra 97 hours beyond speed adjustments alone’.

What app makes you most productive?

That’s got to be Fantastical. On my Mac, the no-brainer answer would be OmniFocus, but in the way I work and flow through the day with my iPhone, I get more done with Fantastical’s help.

But it wasn’t always this way. It took me a long time to warm up to Fantastical. I thought it was good on the Mac, but just okay on the iPhone. Once I had customized the app to my liking — hidden Reminders items, etc. — Fantastical made good sense. I plan each day using Calendar, OmniFocus, and Fantastical, then keep up with my schedule with Fantastical.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

That’s got to be iBooks (and the Kindle) app. I love reading and believe that books are rich resources. I keep iBooks or the Kindle on my home screen while I’m reading through a book that’s downloaded in the respective e-reader. 

Even so, I don’t read half as much as I would like. I’m a slow reader and it takes me forever to complete a book. Many people are concerned that they cannot focus on a good read with their smartphone, but I haven’t found this to be my problem. Once I’m reading, I’m likely to stay in a book for as long as I like. Making the time to read in the first place is the real challenge. 

Whether I successfully read or not, I prefer to read books using my iPhone and iPad. You know how Apple used to boast of the iPod’s “1,000 songs in your pocket.” I like the idea of 1,000 books in my pocket, too.

What is the app you’re still missing?

I’d like a professional level digital audio recording solution. The built-in mic and Voice Memos app don’t cut it. They work in a pinch for temporary files, but considering the level of quality I’ve come to expect from other features and apps, I want the iPhone to be a handy audio recorder that I would use for podcasts and presentations.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone, iPad, and by extension your Watch?

My ballpark figure would is forty times a day. Now that I use an Apple Watch, It’s not as often as it used to be. My iPad eats away at my time on my Mac, the iPhone eats away at my time on the iPad, and the Watch eats away at my time on my iPhone. And if I had to pick just one of them for all uses and I couldn’t have the others, I would pick the iPhone. Then I would use it about a thousand times a day. It’s incredibly versatile.

What Today View widgets are helping you out?

Originally, I thought that the Today View would be empowering, but it’s overshadowed by the usefulness of the Apple Watch’s Glances. I use several of those in the place of iPhone Widgets. In my Watch’s Glances, I use Settings, Now Playing, Overcast, Dark Sky, Fantastical, OmniFocus, Pedometer++, Activity, and Heartbeat.

If only Apple would liberate third party apps a little more, I think that Widgets would become very compelling. Presently they’re handicapped, so I will usually opt to use the app itself rather than its Widget.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

The iPod within. Honestly, playing podcasts is the feature I use the iPhone for all day long, so I don’t know what I’d do without it. Apple said it’s an iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. I still see it as the best iPod I’ve ever owned, more so than I’ve ever regarded it as a phone for phone’s sake.

Can we see your Apple Watch face?

Sure! I’m still growing accustom to this smartwatch idea, but there’s no greater accessory in my life. I’ve always been a watch wearer. I recommend other watch wearers use a smartwatch if for no other reason than they handle much more than the time and date.

Analog versus digital? Because I’m a designer that enjoys the charm of classic interfaces. The purple accent color? Because purple is my favorite, though red and orange on the watch face look great, too. 3, 6, 9 and 12? Because I can’t tell the time quickly without them.

The Watch Complications aren’t completely satisfying, yet they’re still useful. The temperature of my current location is in the top left. My not-so active Activity complication is in the top right. At the bottom is the current event in my iCloud calendar. 

What’s your wallpaper and why?

Here’s where it gets really nerdy, so I wouldn’t blame you if you stop reading at this point. Consider the rest of this article in podcasting lingo the ‘after dark’. 

I think that not enough thought goes into background pictures. They can be artistic, and most people think the background is there to be art for art’s sake. I strongly disagree, because the home screen is your tool box. Think of the background as the base of the toolbox. It can be visually interesting, but it shouldn’t ever be noisy and call attention away from your apps (the tools in the box).

Some backgrounds that come with iOS 8 are attention-getting in a mediocre way. They do well for marketing promotional shots of iPhones on bill boards, but they’re not user friendly on a person’s actual home screen. I prefer for my iPhone’s background to stay in the background yet look very pleasing.

I design my own background wallpapers. I created the Focus Collection: a series of simple wallpapers that are gradiated, out of focus, inspired by Yosemite’s design characteristics, and draw attention away from themselves. Presently, I’m using Mountains 1 in Focus Collection II.

Anything else you would like to share?

Well, since you asked, I’m one of those people that thinks about color groups, related services, categorical order, and an overall aesthetically readable app icon layout. my home screen organization is forever a work in progress, because a new app will be released, like say, Spark or Activity, and I have to move everything to give the newcomers a sensible placement. App layout is part art and part law-abiding science, so the two are never completely satisfied. It can be frustrating to waste time reordering icons to find the right mix of ideals, but once I’ve found what I want, I enjoy visiting my home screen that much more. And I can find stuff without using Spotlight as an app launcher.…

Thanks Joe.

Home Screens: Rogier Willems

This week’s home screen post features Rogier Williams (Website)(Twitter). I first met Rogier years ago at Macworld. Rogier is a Mac IT expert that started in the bay area and has recently moved to to Southern California. So Rogier, show us your home screen.

The iPhone is my most important tool for work and communication. The Apple watch is a great companion that has helped me move a few often used apps to the last screen. And allows me to leave my phone in my bag or pocket. As a right handed person I mostly handle the iPhone with my left hand and I have placed the apps that I can reach my most used apps easily with my left thumb.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Mail, Safari, Overcast (radio is dead, I follow 26 podcast), Camera, Amazon

What would you like to see improved on the iPhone?

I speak a various languages and wish that the keyboard language would change automatically to the language for the person who’s email I have selected when writing an email.

The other thing is that the WiFi would drop off faster and connect to the nearest network it knows. Currently the iPhone stays connected far too long to a network that you have moved away from while a stronger Access Point is available in the area that you have entered. This is the main reason why I have the settings app on the front page so I can quickly turn the WiFi On/Off in order to make it connect to the nearest station.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Pinterest. We are designing a new house and I use Pinterest to find all sorts of ideas. I often get lost in other categories that are inspire me to create or build something. One day I want to build a Steampunk Mac.

What app makes you most productive?

Besides Mail, 1Password:

Not only for passwords, credit cards and other important personal information. I also store data from my clients in there like their passwords, gate codes and credit card info.

What are these strange apps?

Register

I love how easy it is go get paid with Square. Recently they also added the option to send invoices via the website witch is great when I do remote support. I haven’t had a single problem in the past 2 years.

CBW Mobile

This is the iOS interface for “Controlled By Web” relays ad sensors. These are professional grade network relays and sensors that can be programmed and managed via a web interface. This App lets me open and close gates, sense moisture and temperature. I can even power cycle routers and servers remotely.

WiPry

This app works with an external receiver as a 2.4Ghz WiFi spectrum analyzer witch comes in handy while solving mysterious WiFi network issues.

Router Utility

I manage a number of Peplink routers this app allows me to keep an eye on things and make quick adjustments when needed.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Siri, it just doesn’t work for me with my Dutch accent.

What is the app you are still missing?

An app that helps me search and filter the App store.

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

Countless times. I am using it all day.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The camera!

I am an avid photographer. I shoot film with a pinhole camera and various Holga’s. Have a “big boy” full frame DSL. But the iPhone camera is the one I use all the time! I have great pleasure creating images with it and the results are amazing.

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

I would love to see an iCloud Pro where you could use your own domain name with the iCloud services and better collaboration features. It would certainly keep clients away from Office 365.

Do you have an Apple Watch?

I bought one because I have to have one in order to learn it inside out. Now I have had it for a few weeks I really like it! I have set strong filters so only the most important messages get trough. I am not much of a fitness person. But the activity monitor does help me to be more aware of my activity and gently motivated me to be more active.

I have set the watch face in 24hr time with timer and stopwatch. I use the timer a lot for keeping track of a parking meter and when I am cooking dinner. The stopwatch helps me to keep track of time while working. For sure the watch has already earned its money back as I was often forgot to track time properly.

I cant wait to see the Apple Watch work with HomeKit!

What’s your wallpaper and why?

Nothing special. The wall paper is rather plane to keep the icons and labels visible.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you for the Mac Power Users and your Fieldguides.

Thanks Rogier.

Home Screens: MacSparky in 2015

This week I thought I'd feature my own home screen. So here you go.

Some Apps of Note

Apple Maps

I know Apple Maps is the whipping boy but it's got a lot better over the last few years. It's no longer "Apple Maps Bad". Also, I like using Siri with Maps. ("Hey Siri, Get directions home.")

 Tweetbot

My love of Tweetbot on iPhone just barely exceeds my disdain for the iPad version. I've been using it for years and occasionally look for something new and I always come back.

Slack

I've just recently started participating in some Slack channels and I'm hooked. The Slack app keeps evolving and that's a good thing.

Instagram

This app on my home screen is aspirational. I've never been much of an Instagram user but am trying again. (I'm "MacSparky" on Instagram if you're interested.)

The Audio Row

Music, Overcast, Beats, and Sonos for my audio needs. I'm hooked on Overcast for podcasts. Before Apple bought Beats, they had a promotional price through AT&T. I tried it and it stuck. I have a lot of great playlists and like the way it works so easily with the Sonos at home.

The Productivity Row

I've written about MindNode, OmniOutliner, Editorial, and Soulver at length. I'd just add that I find it surprising how often I work on mind maps and outlines on my iPhone.

Unread

RSS feeds are my guilty pleasure. I read through feeds every day and for awhile now, I've been doing it in Unread.

Pocket

I've been using Pocket as my read-it-later service for a few years and am getting ready to embark on an Instapaper experiment but for now Pocket is still on my home screen.

1Password

1Password is a great password management tool but it also has the ability to store secure notes behind a separate wall on my phone. I use those all the time.

Photos

I guess there's no secret that I really like the new Photos. Now it's on my home screen.

Fantastical

Fantastical really pushes all my buttons as an iOS calendar application. The list view of data connects with my brain and new event entry is also a breeze.

OmniFocus

My precious.

Workflow

I also really like having Workflow on my iPhone. Are you keeping up with the updates to Workflow? You should.

Drafts

There is no faster way to get words from my brain to my phone than Drafts.

After all these years, I still love my iPhone. It is probably my most important piece of technology. 

Want to See my Apple Watch Face?

Here you go. I'm definitely a "Utility" man. I keep turning the numbers on the face on and off. (Currently off.) I've tried several other faces and none of them have stuck. For complications I'm using fitness, weather, and next event.

Home Screen: Michael Simmons

This week’s home screen features Michael Simmons (Twitter) from Flexibits (Website), developer of Fantastical. Michael also co-founded HockeyApp. So Michael, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Fantastical 2

More than anything else, I made Fantastical for myself and still use it every day.

Apple Mail

The way I do email, Apple Mail works for me. I like the more recent feature additions, like swipe to mark as read.

MyFitnessPal

I’m a calorie counter and this app makes it painless. I’ve had a running streak of counting calories every day for three years now. 

Tweetbot

This is my favorite Twitter client. I use it for both my personal account and my Flexibits account and I’m using it all the time.

Periscope

I’m strangely addicted to Periscope. I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll broadcast but I really enjoy watching the broadcasts. As a communications major, I find the idea of anyone being able to stream from anywhere really interesting, a new intimate form of communication.

Spotify

This is my favorite app for listening to music and I love being able to (pretty much) listen to whatever song I want, when I want it.

Instagram

I most often take Instagram pictures when I travel but I check it every day.

What app makes you most productive?

Fantastical. Of course.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

I’m not very good at writing things down on my iPhone. I want to get better at taking notes on my phone.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

A lot! (laughs)

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I use the Fantastical widget and also like Dark Sky in the Today view, which shows the forecast for the next hour very quickly. I also keep my stock information there.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

That it all just works. Of course things can be improved but I like the ecosystem and how it all works.

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

I would like to add the ability to see and use two apps side-by-side which could add the potential to do things like drag and drop.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I’ve used the same dark perforated leather wallpaper for a long time. It was created by Adam Betts. (I originally had it on my Mac.) It looks great and doesn’t draw my attention away.

Can we see your Apple Watch watchface?

Sure.

Thanks Michael.