What you have on the home screen of your device says a lot about how you use it. Obviously you’re going to put the most used applications on the front page. What you have on your homepage is also going to be variable according to the time of the year. At least, that is the case for me. During the time of year when I’m working I change a few things to have the apps I need more for work. Sometimes you just put applications onto the front page because you want to be reminded about them. You have recently downloaded them and need to build in a muscle memory. It’s quite easy to put new applications on your device and forget you have them there. A couple of months later you’re looking at applications on the last page of your device and wonder what that app is supposed to do.
Making the Best Use of the Space Available
You’d think having 28 slots available for applications would be enough. I suspect for many people it is plenty. It really depends upon what you do with your device. The more geeky you are, the more likely you are to use a larger selection of applications to do a wider variety of tasks. My interests include recording audio, controlling the home kit devices, they couple of social network applications, listening to music and podcasts and journalling. This is on top of the must have applications like 1Password, Safari, messaging applications and email, access to files and photos. Another well used application is AnyList which gets used any time I need to do some grocery shopping. There is the basic text input which is used for various workflows and for that are used Drafts. Sometimes the only way is to have groups of applications and even have more than one page within the group. This is the case with my productivity group of applications. I also have a group of applications for automation due to my heavy interest in all the stuff I can do with shortcuts and similar applications. One of the way of cramming more stuff in is to use a shortcut to give access to parts of applications. So I have a shortcut which will give me access to a number of camera apps. I choose the camera application based on whatever it is I want to do.
Starting at the Bottom And Working Upwards
The menu row at the bottom which persists as you scroll through the screens is where you put your most important applications. These are the apps you use constantly throughout your day. It could just be application which you use one time daily, but every single day. Here is my menu row on my iPhone.
Application Number One – Drafts
So much of what we do with our devices is collection of text. That text to go to various places, to social networks, emails, notes, reminders, collection of ideas. Within that you can further subdivide such as with emails for specific persons, same with specific messages. Notes go to a variety of topic areas. There are actions in Drafts send the text to where it needs to go. It doesn’t have to all go into one big data bucket. Actions are programable automations in the Drafts app. Drafts is without a doubt the best text collection, plain notes depository available on Mac and iOS. Anything I put into this application synchronises across the platforms. It doesn’t matter where I start any note in Drafts. I can continue and finish it where ever I have the app installed.
I might have a small but vital idea I need to record at some point during the day. It’s easy to use Drafts to record that idea for posterity. I either type it in or use the Siri dictation. There is also the extended Siri dictation which lets you talk for longer. If it’s a small note and I need to record it quickly can even do it with my Apple Watch. The multiple input methods increases the versatility of the application.
It’s All about the Automation
Drafts is just plain text, it doesn’t have the versatility of the Apple Notes application. Most of the time I don’t need to draw a diagram or to write with handwriting, or add images. All I need to do is to turn an idea into words, computer editable text. I still have Apple Notes sitting there waiting for me to use, if I need to. It’s possible to add an image in Drafts through markdown. You need the image uploaded to the Internet already and to know the URL for it. When you convert the markdown within the application it will show you the document with the image included.
The best thing about Drafts is the automation. Using actions in Drafts makes the app incredibly versatile. Many times we unload an idea out of our brains into our computer and not know for sure how we want to use it. In Drafts you put everything in the app and decide later how to use it. I have actions to send text to Twitter, to other notes apps and to my journal. There are actions allowing Drafts to become a GTD application or send the tasks to your favourite organiser / list application. I can also publish direct to a blog from Drafts. I’d do that for a quick post maybe, but usually I prefer to use the action to copy the whole text to clipboard and open up the WordPress backend.
It isn’t just about passing text through to other apps. There are great actions available to process your text. Remove all blank lines, split draft at cursor, remove duplicate lines. Add the date in a predefined format.
I have actions which are like templates for my journalling. I have four different Dayone actions. Depending on the content, the draft will be sent either to the main journal or to my journal about movies and TV series watched. The other journal is about learning to code in Swift. I wanted to keep track of what lessons I had completed.
Application Number Two – Pocket Casts
Although there is a podcast listening app from Apple I prefer to use the application Pocket Casts. The Apple application is usable but basic. Pocket Casts is an app I use every single day. I like to listen to podcasts about science, the news, Apple news and one or two drama podcasts. Here are a few of the podcasts I listen to.
* True Spies
* Outlook (personal stories from the BBC.)
* The Maccast
* Mac Power Users
* Fully Charged Podcast
* The Infinite Monkey Cage
* iPad Pros
* Friday Night Comedy
* Borrasca (Drama)
* Full Disclosure with James O’Brien
* People Fixing the World (BBC)
Feature Packed App
With Pocket Casts you can have it trim silence. It tells you how much time you saved. Since I’ve been using this feature in the application I’ve saved more than 10 days of listening using that feature. It’s also possible to change the speed of the playback. There are one or two podcast it’s worth listening to at 1.5 times speed. You get the information and you get it quicker. There is a sleep timer. I like being able to set the podcast to cut the first number of seconds from the podcast. This is useful to cut out all of the intro which you don’t need to listen to every time you listen to the podcast. It will auto download podcasts if you tell it to. It’s a good idea to set a limit to the number of podcast episodes downloads. You can set it to notify you and also if you want the episode added to the Up Next filter. You can make other filters to have collections of a specific type of podcast. I have a filter for drama podcasts and another for science-based podcasts. I have tried other podcast applications, but this is my preferred way to listen to podcasts.
Application Number Three – Twitterific
There are a variety of applications you use with Twitter and Twitterific is the one I have settled upon. In the past I’ve tried out a few different ones and there are not huge differences between them. I paid for a version of Twitterific a while back. They now are trying to persuade me to either pay with a subscription per month or a large amount for a lifetime single payment. The software bugs me from time to time with that request, but I always ignore it. Twitterific does what it’s supposed to do and earns a place on the home screen in permanent view due to how much I use it. There’s not much else to say about the application except it does what it supposed to do.
Application Number Four – Day One
As mentioned previously I most often make text entries using the Drafts application. I also share photos from the photos app into Day One. I like the way the application gives me the option to change the date of the entry based on the date within the photo. Adding audio to the journal entry is easy too. I often forget it is there because I’m so used to adding text entries. Then when I do use the audio I forget I’m actually recording audio rather than dictating. I have to stop myself from being silly and dictating the punctuation. It could be a better option to record the audio in another application and make minor edits easily. There aren’t any audio editing facilities within Day One, but for short clips of audio it’s not really a big problem.