iphone setup and apps

homescreen01old

I’ve had the same wallpaper since my first iphone. The homescreen setup is by and large similar, with more organisation when folders were first introduced. Like most people, I download and keep too many apps on the phone in case I want to use them. So what does my iphone homescreen really say about me? It’s organised clutter and full of folders. Notifications are only enabled on phone and text, and I zero out all notifications. I don’t use colour in any meaningful way.

Time for a change. What I want to achieve, is having a homescreen that is comfortable, set up for easy access, and uncluttered.

wallpaper

The fiery apple wallpaper looked cool 10 years ago, and although it still looks good it’s way past time to switch to a new one. Eventually I want to have a plain white one perhaps with subtle patterns. For now I changed to one with sunset because I love the colours. The caption says watsons bay, so I must have taken it in Australia although I can’t remember it and the date doesn’t coincide with me being in sydney. May be I scanned it from an older pic? That’s the problem with having 33,000 pics, it’s impossible to remember them all.

23nightsky.jpg

I’m also saving all my various wallpapers in one place for easy access.

setup

After seeing all the cool homescreens both on the twitter thread and at r/iOSsetups, I really wanted to emulate the way users implemented minimalistic homescreens. I also took to heart this article about simplifying our smartphones.

I set aside some time for this mini-project. First, I deleted tons of apps: a) obsolete ones that aren’t compatible with the current ios, but I hadn’t realised because the apps had been on the phone for years; b) apps i had never used; c) apps I haven’t used in months. This enabled me to consolidate several folders too: I combined all text, messengering and email apps; I shuffled between utilities, info and productivity; I reduced all games to one folder.

The next tip is to identify the apps I use most. I had a long list of 24 core apps, which I whittled down to 15, including 4 of the most commonly used that I keep on the dock. I love the setups where the apps are at the bottom of the screen so I googled for instructions. The method of achieving this effect is to create transparent (or as they describe, invisible) icons. Of course there’s an app for that, makeovr. They need a screenshot of the blank page with wallpaper, then it’s a matter of patiently creating individual icons to match the spot it needs to go to. It takes advantage of safari’s copy to homescreen functionality. In this example, I selected icon row 1 column 1:
homescreen02makeovr

I planned out where I wanted the core apps, then created the appropriate transparent icon and moved it in place. Needs a little patience because each icon has to be created and moved. I like the result, although I’d like to get rid of more homescreen apps:
homescreen03iphone01

I’m thinking eventually I may move snapseed to the second page and may be even evernote (or its potential replacement, bear–see below). If and when I get a password manager, I’ll have to find a place for it too. The second page looks more like a conventional iphone page:
homescreen04iphone02

I did the same for the second phone:
homescreen05iphone5c

And for the ipad, I used iempty, similar to makeovr but with a clunkier interface:
homescreen06ipad

Since the second phone and ipad are used for a narrower band of tasks, the number of core apps is very few.

apps

The exercise of looking at other people’s apps was both fruitful and not. Fruitful because there are some great apps and not because a lot of these great apps are paid.

Low hanging fruit first, free apps. Added spark, discord, mega, snapseed straightaway. I have snapseed already and it does have better UI and functionality than lightroom. I tested outlook vs spark and spark’s UI won hands down. I also downloaded bear on both iphone and mac and still researching it. A lot of people have moved from evernote and apple notes to bear and report good experiences. I’m not a power EN user, and mainly use it for text notes so its simplicity and speed will benefit me. As ” title=”verge”>the verge says:

Bear plays the sleek TextEdit to Evernote’s monstrous Microsoft Word

There’s a simple migration process and the app has a lot of positives like markdown support and tags. The problem for me is, I prefer folders over tags and bear doesn’t organise via folders. This is potential deal-breaker for me. The second one is that I’ll need a $15 annual subscription to enable syncing across devices, compared with EN which allows syncing across 2 devices for the free version. Two is what I need: mac and iphone. I may give it a try for travel research next trip.

Back to apps. There are a few paid apps I really want. I ended up buying one only, but I’m keeping tabs on the others. The paid app I got is carrot, and yes I paid $4.99 for a weather app, when there are tons available for free. I’ve known for a long time that dark sky is the best weather app and kind of holding out waiting. Carrot uses dark sky and has so much more, the funniest being its snarky comments and quests for secret locations. While I may get tired of snark and quests, there’s no question that its core functionality, showing me upcoming weather, is fantastic. It’s simply a pleasure to look at the page with hourly predictions.

I’m also toying with either IA writer or byword as a text editor for iphone and ipad, leaning more towards byword. I write all website posts in textedit then copy paste to wordpress, which is fine because it’s distraction free and has only the basic features. Byword is equally clean-looking and goes a little beyond by supporting markdown and publishes directly to wordpress. For writing writing, of course I’ll stick with scrivener. I’m not sure as yet I want to shell out $5.99 just because I want a direct publishing option.

One thing I’ve noticed, that I’m very disappointed in, is apps in the mac app store are not only more expensive than for iphone/ipad, the app can’t be shared. This means if I want byword for example, I have to pay $11.99 for the mac version and $5.99 for iphone/ipad. The argument is mac apps are inherently different because iOS is not the same as macOS. That said, there are rumours that apple is planning to combine both stores. In the meantime, I probably will stay with mostly free or included apps.