Oh… It has been roughly a thousand years since I wrote anything here. There’s been this crazy thing going on for a while, not sure you’ve heard of it? There’s a pandemic raging all over the world, which makes everyday life very different. I’ll not delve into details about it, since it’s basically all over the internet/news/whatnot.
I had some outright fun writing about my homescreen back in November last year, hence me thinking about writing an update on the very same subject! Without further ado, here’s my lock and home screens as of today.
Let’s start with the wallpapers. As usual, I use such created by The Iconfactory - join their Patreon NOW unless you haven’t done so already. This one with Supergirl felt really nice, both in combination with my icons, and has a nice spring feeling to it.
Get ready! This will be even longer than the last one!
Since I said it quite well the last time, I quote myself:
The placement of individual app icons and the choice of wallpaper is the only options you have for customisation. This is why I’ve spent too many hours pondering the perfect layout and app selection for the first home screen. The fact that many apps nowadays allow the user to select among a set of icons made this job both easier and harder: Easier because I was able to find more matching icons, but harder since there simply are more choices.
A colleague of mine once asked me what would happen if an app only had e.g. a green icon - how would I accommodate that on my first home screen? Simply put, I wouldn’t, at least not without making a place for it by adjusting everything else. But probably that won’t happen.
Yes, I know it’s stupid but… I select apps not just based on function/need but also on what icon(s) the app has. If it’s an app I really want to use, I try to find some app in the same category that gives me an icon that fits, at least if it’s supposed to end up on the first home screen.
With that out of the way, let’s analyse the apps and their placement on my home screen.
First off, we have apps regarding maps in various ways: weather (I’m a weather geek) and flight tracking.
For weather, I both use Netatmo and Carrot Weather. I love being able to tell superlocalised weather, and thusly I have a Netatmo weather station at home. I also really like the super-snarky Carrot robot, so using both apps is absolutely mandatory. As long as I’m within a few kilometers from home, Carrot even uses the reported weather from Netatmo - super cool!
Closely related to weather is flight tracking, and I run a Raspberry Pi with Flightradar24’s tracking software. Having the Flightradar24 app on my home screen feels great so I can check what planes are flying overhead.
Next to the map apps, we have different communication apps. I use my phone for communication, but almost only via text - I really don’t like talking on the phone.
I use Mattermost for different kinds of communications - chatting with friends, reading a few RSS feeds, and checking in on my servers and Git repos.
Also for keeping in touch with people, I use Signal - the most secure and private messenger app out there at the moment. Too bad not enough people use it, despite me nagging about it every now and then.
The next section contains apps involved in image/picture management, both drawings and photos.
The top app here is Linea Sketch from the lovely people at The Iconfactory. I’m no master artist when it comes to drawing/sketching, but I really like using this app above all else in this category.
When it comes to photos, the icons are sorted from the bottom up according to my workflow: capturing, editing and viewing - but I will write about the apps in the pictured order.
For viewing pictures and photos, I use Apple’s built-in Photos app (Bilder in Swedish). Haven’t really found an app that can replace it (regardless of app icon even!). It does its job well enough. Please, don’t suggest me using Google Photos instead - I loathe Google’s products.
Image editing, I prefer doing in Darkroom, and if I’ve understood some online whispers, it will perhaps be able to replace Apple’s Photos app in a future update. It really is a powerful processing app for photos, and I always gives it a go before uploading photos to e.g. Instagram.
Finally, for photography, I use Camera-M at the moment. I’ve tried a bunch of different camera apps, and this one’s really good (not as good as Halide, but the icon fits better on my home screen). I wholeheartedly can recommend both!
I told you this blog post would be a long one, great job keeping up this far!
Following the image-related apps, we have a couple of hard, cold tools (not really).
I’ve tested to not have a calculator app on my home screen for a while (between this and the last home screen update), but I always found myself struggling to find where I put it when I needed it. Hence, some sort of calculator app made its return to the home screen. I currently run Calcbot 2, mainly because that its icon fit the best. I have also sported PCalc quite a bit. I strongly recommend both, but if you are a RPN nerd as myself, you’d really like PCalc. Unfortunatelly, Calcbot lacks that (but I can cope).
1Password is my password manager (etc) of choice, and I’ll probably never swap to another one again - it’s that good.
Both Prompt and easyNag I use to keep my servers, Raspberry Pis (Pies?) etc running. Haven’t found a better Nagios-compatible app than easyNag, so I keep using it. I have had thoughts swapping out Prompt for either Panic’s Code Editor (formerly known as Coda) or Blink - but neither have icons that fit my home screen. If they add additional options with somethine that fits, I’ll consider them again.
Last in this section, we have Working Copy. This is a Git client, and it has several uses as such. I have most of my stuff managed via Git, e.g. my personal wiki (which runs Wiki.js). This means that I can update content directly from my phone instead of using the not-so-mobile-friendly wiki.js built-in editor. Also, can anyone survive today without Git?
Next, we have a softer section, listening and reading apps.
Mattermost we already covered above, but it fits in really well here since it serves a few RSS feeds for reading.
NetNetsWire is my current main RSS reader of choice. It has kicked out Reeder from my main screen, and at the moment of writing this I cannot see that one making a comeback anytime soon. Not that Reeder is bad per se, but I simply like NetNewsWire better.
Music is super-important to me, and since I’m mainly an Apple Music user I’ve placed the Music (musik in Swedish) app here. Someone once said that without music, life would be a mistake - and I agree! I enjoy using Spotify as well, but being knee-deep in the Apple ecosystem, Apple Music fits me better. I’ve also noticed that I find slightly more songs I’m searching for in the catalogue of Apple Music than on Spotify. Speaking of music, I use a dedicated DAP (Digital Audio Player) if I really want to enjoy my music, but utilising the phone is a great complement. I run the AirPods Pros as headphones. I have to write a blog post about that DAP some day, remind me!
I also enjoy audiobooks, and for this I run Storytel (a Swedish audiobook service). Currently, I’m rereading The Lord of the Rings trilogy for old times sake - and it’s available in English, so I’m happy. I really like the mix of books in Swedish and English that Storytel offers, so it ticks all my boxes.
The reading/listening section is rounded up by the largest encyclopaedia in the world - Wikipedia. I still use the beautiful V for Wiki app for this. Having tried a lot of different Wikipedia-based apps, this one crushes them all in a heartbeat.
The rightmost column contain the apps I use most often. Placing them on the right makes them easy to reach (I’m right-handed), so they definitely belong there.
We’ve already cleared Spark and Signal above, and they belong here for being used a lot. Can’t reiterate enough that more people should be using Signal instead of iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WhatsApp, and DEFINITELY JUST STOP using SMS.
For managing my tasks and remembering stuff, I use Things. I have tried SO many todo apps, but Things is the one that suits my needs the best. The only downside of the app is that you cannot create collaborative tasks or lists. My wife and I use Apple Reminders for shared lists - it’s far from great but among the best I could find. If you wish, you can use apps such as Memento as a frontend for Reminders. I tried it, and ditched it though.
My calendar app of choice is by far Fantastical. It has a beautiful UI and the latest upgrade (to version 3) brought some fantastic new features. Can’t recommend it enough!
For banking, I use ICA Banken and its app. Not the most amazing banking app, but I’ve seen far worse - and using a banking app for a bank I don’t use would make less than zero sense.
Finally, one of the most-used apps on my phone: Firefox. This Internet browser is just great! I use it on my other devices as well, and Firefox Sync works really well. With all privacy features built in, it makes me feel slightly safer online. Also, the icon fits perfectly on the row where the icon resides.
This ends up the main icons on my home screen. What’s left is the dock.
I cannot live without my purple/pink dock! I’ve tried other variants, but I always come back to this setup, whether it’s with three or four icons.
Tot is a new app from The Iconfactory, and it’s mainly an app for capturing ideas, notes, tasks, and so on. I put stuff there that would otherwise end up on post-it notes etc. It’s superfast and really nice - give it a try!
Next, we have Firefox Focus. This tiny web browser lacks a lot of features from its bigger brother, but it’s great for looking up stuff quickly and then erase all history - you have to make it as hard as possible for websites to track you!
Next to it, we have the best Reddit client for iOS: Apollo. Using the Reddit website after spending some time with Apollo is basically horrible. This app is just fantastic. The amount of customisability offered by the app is really outstanding, so you can really make the app experience yours.
The last app is the most used one on my phone (both according to screentime in iOS and myself): Twitterrific. For those of you keeping count, yes - this is the third app from The Iconfactory making its way to my homescreen. It is without competition the best Twitter client for iOS. If you use any other client on your phone - give this one a go. I dare to bet that you will not be disappointed. Follow me!
This got longer than I thought, even though I knew it’d be long. However, I have a few more remarks, so let’s keep going a bit longer.
Apart from the grouping of the icons described in detail above, each row on the home screen is colour coordinated, as follows:
First and second rows
The top two rows consist of apps with blue icons with white glyphs. This colour scheme seems to be quite the trend at the moment.
The third row has even more blue icons, but with white and black/dark gray added to the mix.
Fourth and fifth rows
The fourth and fifth rows collect apps with white background and mostly red glyphs and/or rainbow-coloured things on them.
The bottom row (not counting the dock) has icons with black backgrounds (or nearly black - looking at you, Firefox!). The glyphs on these contain red/orange and also other colours/rainbows.
Purple or pink icons with mainly white symbols on them.
There you have it. A complete analysis of the home screen, the placement of icons based on colour and function, and my thought surrounding this.
One might question my sanity putting this much thought into such a simple matter as a home screen, but I find it quite soothing. Some people tend their gardens to perfection, others collect stamps - and myself, I sort and arrange apps on my phone. Everyone’s different, and prioritise different things in their lives. I use my phone a lot, and want a sense of harmony when doing so.
And I promise, I’m not diagnosed with OCD. Really, I’m not.
Not yet, at least.
Thanks for reading this, hopefully it won’t take five months until my next blog update - but don’t hold your breath!
Joline, signing off - for now.