Home Screen: Sam Spurlin


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


What are some of favorite apps?

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

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

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

What is the app you are still missing?

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

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

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

Anything else you'd like to share?

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

Thanks Sam