Home Screens – Brett Kelly

Brett Kelly (twitter) really likes Evernote. He likes it so much that one day he just decided to write a book about it, Evernote Essentials, which became the definitive guide for Evernote. I had heard about Brett but never realized, until recently, that he lives near me. So Brett and I got together for breakfast and immediately felt like old friends. Brett is also now publishing some well-produced Evernote screencasts. In addition to all other pursuits, Brett loves his iPhone. So Brett, show us what is on your home screen.

I have a dual-purpose philosophy for home screen apps: these 16 apps are comprised of a) apps that I really like and use regularly and b) apps that I want to use more. I find that if I see an app when I unlock my phone, I’m more likely to think about firing it up. This obviously depends a great deal on the app in question as well as the time and place, but it’s helped me to do better at adopting apps whose potential is clear.

What is most your most interesting app?

My most “interesting” home screen apps are probably Instacast and Evernote (which I keep in the dock, so that may disqualify it from the “home screen” category). The former has completely changed how I consume podcasts on my iPhone. Before Instacast, getting new podcast episodes required either syncing with iTunes or downloading them piecemeal using the iTunes app. Other than occasionally moving music I’d purchased on the phone into iTunes, podcasts were the only reason I ever synced my iPhone. Instacast lets me bypass that whole process by allowing me to add/edit/delete podcast subscriptions and download new episodes, all from within the app. It’s a bargain at ten times the $3 price.

Evernote is a no-brainer for me. It’s easily among my top 3 most-used apps (along with OmniFocus and Twitter) and is an indispensable capture tool for me. I use it to keep track of where I go (and when I was there) using the geotagging business, to fully photo-document my son’s t-ball games and my daughter’s ballet classes and as a portable copy of my entire digital filing cabinet (plus a pantload of other uses). Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of Evernote, so none of this should come as any surprise (disclosure: I work for Evernote).

What is your favorite app?

Choosing a favorite app would be tough, but the two contenders would certainly be OmniFocus and Evernote. OmniFocus is my task manager of choice on both my Macs, my iPad and my iPhone. It’s hard to overstate just how mind-bindingly awesome it is, particularly on the iPad (a point you’ve made on many occasions). It’s got all the oats you could possibly want in a task manager, but let’s you keep it simple if that’s your deal. I won’t belabor this point, but suffice it to say that OmniFocus is what I tap by default when absentmindedly unlocking my iPhone.

My guilty pleasure would definitely be Ego. It’s a simple app that let’s you track your social-ish stats: RSS subscribers, twitter followers, blog page views, etc. I will freely admit that there’s a certain amount of narcissism inherent in apps like this (hence the name), but it does give me a dashboard-style view of how popular I am and, thus, how worthwhile my existence is on this earth. Kidding.

So what is missing from your iPhone?

I’ll be honest — and this is going to sound extremely fanboy-like — there isn’t really an app that I want to exist that doesn’t. I’m already pretty floored by what my iPhone can do and it does just about everything I want. I could do with a little less friction in some cases (I’d pay money for native clipboard history or TextExpander-style functionality), but on the whole I’m very happy with everything my phone does.

How often do you use your iPhone?

I use my iPhone pretty regularly throughout the day. I work at home and, as such, I often need to get away from my desk for a few minutes. If I’m taking a walk, I’m probably listening to a podcast or skimming RSS feeds in Reeder. If I’m in the kitchen making a tasty snack, I’m probably reading Twitter or doing email triage. If I’m at my desk, it will frequently serve dutifully as my Pandora player (so I can avoid having to spin up the molasses-laden CPU hog Flash player on my Mac). After business hours, I use my iPhone a great deal more for taking quick snaps of my family or shooting short video clips. I suck at both of these activities to startling degrees, but the iPhone makes that particular act of sucking very, very easy.

What is your favorite iPhone feature?

I’ve carried golf bags for some UI designers and one axiom of their field that has stuck with me is the idea that interfaces should do the least surprising thing. Both the iPhone and the iPad absolutely nail this: for the most part, they do what you expect when you interact with them. A close second would be that, with both devices, Apple built them to be responsive above just about anything else. I very rarely find myself tapping on a button or swiping the screen without something happening, even if it’s already grinding away on something. In my admittedly limited experience with other smartphones, this simply isn’t the case — at least, not to the same extent.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Personally, I can’t stand the folders. The current iteration of iOS allows 11 screens of un-folder-ed apps. I can’t imagine requiring more space than that. I understand the idea of logically grouping applications, but the novelty wore off very quickly because, at least for me, it just meant I needed to tap the screen a few extra times to launch the app that I wanted. I’ve used the same apps (in the same arrangement) for long enough that I know instinctively where to go and how to launch them. Folders would effectively kneecap my ability to launch apps without looking closely at the Springboard.

My only exception to this whiny folder-hating approach is that I use a single folder to hold all of the stock apps that I rarely or never use and can’t outright delete: Notes, Contacts, Weather, Compass, Voice Memos, Stocks, etc. I also keep the App Store and iTunes apps in this folder to avoid excessively draining my wallet; out of sight, out of mind.

Thanks Brett.

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