For some time now, I’ve been following MacStories.net. Only recently, however, I’ve started corresponding with MacStories’ Federico Viticci (Twitter). Federico is a really bright guy and was kind enough to show off his home screens.
What are your most interesting home screen apps?
I think the “most interesting” apps are the ones that allow me to get work done from an iPhone or iPad without having to rely on my Mac all the time. Notely, for instance, is a great text editor with Dropbox support, Markdown integration and customizable keyboard — I got all my iOS 5 and iCloud coverage done with it on the iPad. Adobe Carousel is a recent addition to my home screen, but I can see it working in the long term for me as I’ve been looking for some sort of Photo Stream alternative with more options and control. Carousel allows me to forget about “library management” through a Mac because my photos are in sync everywhere and the iOS clients have good editing capabilities. Last I’d mention Evernote — perhaps it’s not really “interesting” to many as it’s a rather old app and note-taking may not be as exciting as the latest Instagram clone, but I keep all kinds of data and information inside Evernote, and the iOS app has received some terrific improvements recently.
What is your favorite app?
Instapaper. Specifically, Instapaper for iPad. There are hundreds of great apps for iOS, dozens that I’ve tried over the years and could be my “favorite” ones, but looking back at the degree of innovation brought to the platform and overall enhancement of my digital habits, I say Instapaper is the app that has most changed the way I approach my iPhone and iPad as “reading devices” in my free time. Instapaper is my favorite app because I didn’t think an app could improve and deeply change the way I read. The latest 4.0 update made it impossible for me not to love it even more.
Which app is your guilty pleasure?
Rdio. Mostly because it’s not available in Italy, but it turns out you can use it with gift cards and a regular US VPN. I’m a Rdio subscriber, which means I can use the service on my Mac, iPhone and iPad. I used to be a die-hard Spotify fan, but since I’ve started listening to music on Rdio I’ve been very impressed with these guys’ music catalogue and iOS apps. The iPad client is fantastic, and something Spotify is still missing.
What is the app you are still missing?
Back to my Mac for iOS. I’ve been using different apps to remotely access my Mac’s screen, files or media over the Internet in the past months, but I’d like to see an integrated solution from Apple that thoroughly takes advantage of iCloud and your Apple ID to make your Mac available anywhere. The iPhone could serve as a mini-client to browse documents and stream media, whereas the iPad would get screen-controlling capabilities. I know Apple’s future is in iCloud (Documents in the iCloud, iTunes Match) and clearly the company would have to figure out a way to emulate a Mac’s screen on a multitouch surface, but third-parties have done this before and I believe there’s still a large percentage of files and documents that can’t be stored in iCloud, but would still be convenient to have remotely available for reading, sharing, etc.
How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?
I use my iPhone all the time. When I’m at my Mac, my iPhone is on my desk and I use it for phone calls, iMessages, FaceTime — mostly communication features. When I’m out, my iPhone is my mobile workstation with access to Twitter, RSS, MacStories’ chatroom and all kinds of networks and services I use on a daily basis. When I’m not using my Mac, I use my iPad to catch up on news and Twitter, play games, write articles, read my Instapaper queue or iBooks, watch movies and listen to Rdio. I haven’t measured the amount of time I spend with my iPad, but I’m fairly sure it’s around 4 hours per day. I use it a lot more during the weekends though, when I don’t open my MacBook Air at all.
What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?
It’s a difficult choice between the 4S’ Retina Display and camera, and the iPad 2’s multitasking gestures. If I really had to pick one for the iPhone I’d say the Retina Display. Ever since its introduction last year, the amount of pixels Apple put into the device has enabled me to read any kind of text with ease — quality is amazing. Gestures are just another “wow factor” of multitouch on portable displays, and with iOS 5 they make it extremely simple and fast to switch between apps and go back to the Home screen.
If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?
To go back to the topic of Back to my Mac, I’d focus on making devices aware of each other and capable of effortlessly sharing information and data without having to use apps or external tools. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while and I’m sure it’s already happening elsewhere with a combination of NFC and cloud-based services — imagine being able to share a webpage or photo with a friend by simply “bumping” two iPhones, or control the iPhone’s camera from an iPad. And because the Mac has been demoted to “just a device”, I think there would be room for deeper, native, intuitive integration with all these devices that are already using a single iCloud account. Maybe it’ll be a hardware component or new software technologies, but I’d like to see Apple’s devices gaining the capability of “talking” to each other.
“Siri, make sure my iPad is loading Apple’s keynote video when I get home”.
Anything else you’d like to share?
It’s an exciting time to watch new technologies unfold and evolve, and I believe we’ve only scratched the surface with cloud services, voice recognition, and touch interfaces. I’m impressed every single day by what we’re able to do with devices today, but I’m always looking forward to whatever’s next.
To read about more home screens, clicky here