Home Screen: Mike Rohde


This week’s home screen comes from my pal Mike Rohde, (Twitter) (Website), the father of Sketchnoting, founder of the Sketchnote Army, and a recent guest on the Mac Power Users. So Mike, show us your home screen.


What are some of your favorite Apps?

I have many favorites, not all of which are represented on my home screen, so I’ll talk a little about my home screen first and then mention a few standouts used more occasionally, but still useful when needed.

Safari & Mail – both stock apps which work well and seem to be the glue of my workflow on the iPhone. I’m either viewing or sending information with these two, unglamorous as they are. Still, they are great, workhorse tools for me.

Instapaper – This is where I send many of the longer reads I encounter on Twitter, in Reeder or in email. It’s a great reading environment and has been a staple on my home screen for a long time now.

I will admit to having no organization in Instapaper whatsoever. It’s a means to an end, really – if I like something there, I might Pinboard or email it to someone, or tweet it out. So I don’t spend any time with folders. But I love this app.
Reeder – Five years ago I spent all of my time reading RSS feeds on the Mac, using NetNewsWire. When I moved to the iPhone for reading RSS, which was a slow transition, I eventually settled on Reeder, after trying some other apps out.
I appreciate the minimalist UI of the app and how I’m able to move articles around in Google Reader, Instapaper, Twitter, email and Pinboard. It’s great to have the synchronicity with the iPad and Mac apps as well — something I appreciate in a few apps I use.

Tweetbot & Netbot – I keep these together as I spend time in both pretty regularly. Right now I spend more time in Tweetbot because of my book release late last year — sharing info about the book, responding to readers and also heavy commentary during the NFL season on my team, The Green Bay Packers and other teams too.

In that specific instance, the Tweetbot feature of being able to follow a specific list as your main stream has become invaluable. When I watch and comment on a game, I switch my timeline to the Football list I’ve built, which shows people I’ve marked as interested in or commenting on NFL games. It works great.

As for my followers who could care less about NFL tweets, Tweetbot has a nice mute feature which I am aware of, but have never used. Still, it’s good to know this feature is available.

I’ve appreciated the features in Tweetbot to the point that when I tried to use the stock Twitter app, I get frustrated. I’ve removed that stock app from my iPhone because it got so little use, once Apple integrated Twitter accounts into iOS.

Finally, I like the gestures Tweetbot and Netbot offer. I probably use a fraction of what is available, but for what I use, I like those options.

Listary – This is a simple app that uses the Simplenote database and plain text files to create to-do lists. What’s even better is the sharing feature that lets me share a shopping list with my wife and the copy of Listary on her iPhone.

I can load up items I need through the day and then pick them up — my wife can add to them as well. I’ve even seen her add items while I was at the store shopping. The lists are just Simplenote files and can easily be edited in Simplenote as well.

Maps – I actually like Apple’s mapping, though I only occasionally use them. I do miss the Google Maps transit maps — those have been incredibly handy when I’ve used public transport in other cities. I’m a fan of the Apple turn-by-turn UI and feature, and have used that more than I would have expected. Fortunately it hasn’t sent me into a river yet. 🙂

Now that Google has a standalone app, I’ll likely use that when I need to travel by bus or train in other cities, or until Apple adds a transit option.

Messages – Useful for the everyday texting I do with my wife, father and work colleagues. Like Mail it just does the job. Recently I’ve sorted out Messages on the Mac and really like having access to messaging wherever I am.

Camera – With the iPhone 4S, I’ve switched back to the stock camera app, because it’s become so quick. I do have Camera+ on the phone and sometimes use it to process photos, but felt it had become too slow for quick images.

I also like the stock camera app because it drops an original in my photo collection and photostream and if I use the image in Flickr, Camera+ or Instagram, I always have the original shot to fall back on.

1Password – This is a great tool for mostly occasional use on the iPhone, typically for logins when I’m on another machine, key codes for door locks and things like that. I don’t use it here as heavily as I do on the Mac, but I love that the key database syncs via Dropbox.

Flickr – This is the newest addition to my home screen, replacing Instagram in the same spot. I wasn’t pleased about the licensing and rights issues around Instragram recently, and have been a Flickr guy for many years now. I was excited to see the app updated and the ability to both share my photostream and sets and see others’ work as well.

I’ve moved the most recent Instagram shots over to Flickr and will eventually move them all over, and find it fun to play with the editing and filtering features in Flickr.

Instacast – I am a huge podcast listener, with a 25 minute commute into work and often 35 minutes back home, Monday through Wednesday. I’ve got a backlog of podcast right now, as I’ve recently added some new podcasts to my queue and am in the process of shifting and settling on a new list of regulars with a few stalwarts that will never get removed.

I also listen to podcasts when I walk the dog, when I shovel snow or mow the grass, wash dishes or even on my Jambox while I give kids baths. It’s great to have such a wide variety of voices and content available these days.

Day One – This app is a recent move to the home screen, ever since the iOS and Mac apps were updated to include photos, weather, location data and other features. I love that these all sync between devices (iPhone, iPad and Mac) so that I can start an entry with a photo on the iPhone in the morning, and finish the entry at night on the Mac or iPad.

I’m still not as regular with my diary entries as I wish I were, however, this app has made me much, much more regular in my day capture than before. I love the app.

Nike+ Running – This is an app I’ve been using for walking my dog at night. I’ll fire it up and the app tracks my “runs” which in this case are walks — I really love the GPS tracking that identifies the route taken and even uses a heat map style color coding system to show where I walked quickly, slowly or was stopped.

The data is synced to my Nike+ account, so I have access on the web, though most of my use of the data is right on the phone. I can see how far I’ve walked, how fast my mile is and it tracks goals and gives badges for achievements.

Eventually I am looking at a Fitbit Flex or Nike Fuelband, but for this purpose the app works just fine for my simple needs and it seems to motivate me to walk.

OmniFocus – Super productivity app that I really like and am using more this year. I primarily use it on the Mac, though it’s handy to have with me on the iPhone for entering tasks or adding new ones as I think of them.

The iPhone app’s Forecast View is especially helpful for looking ahead quickly and seeing what’s on the horizon. I’m hoping this feature gets added to OmniFocus 2.0 for the Mac.

Phone – Basic phone app that works fine, but nothing super special.

Simplenote – A great app I find more useful every day. I use it in conjunction with JustNotes on the Mac, where I track all sorts of stuff — Sketchnote Handbook reference, press mentions, reviewer name and addresses, along with thoughts I have on the go, recipes for food I like to prepare, and whatever else I need to quickly store.

It also provides a database for Listary to work, which is a great symbiotic relationship.

Fantastical – This is also a recent addition to the home screen, replacing Agenda. I really like the natural language feature for adding events and integration with Siri as well. The Week View bar up top is also a great way to look ahead – reminds me of Forecast in OmniFocus.

Other apps of note:

iA Writer – Great app for writing on the iPhone in a simple, focused environment that also has a corresponding iPad and Mac client.

Quotebook – Wonderful app for capturing quotes I get in email or see on Twitter.

Pandora – When I want to get into a groove for creating, I like to fire up a station in Pandora and just let it roll. Last year I upgraded to Pandora One and love commercial free mixes.

Squarespace – Nice little app for checking stats and approving/replying to comments. I’ve done some posting from this app on the iPhone or iPad, but prefer the keyboard on my Mac.

Pear Note – Handy note-taking app on the iPhone and iPad, with audio recording and sync capabilities that also connects up with my Mac’s version via Dropbox or iCloud.

Dropbox – More useful than I would have expected for viewing and sending files.

GoodReader – My go-to PDF reading app on the iPhone and iPad.

Bloom – Coffee timer I use for AeroPress, Pourover and French Press.

Mention – An app that I track mentions of The Sketchnote Handbook with. Service is web-based and has a Mac client so I can see what mentions have come in anywhere I am.

ooTunes – I use this to tune into terrestrial radio streams for sporting events.

Square Register – Just picked up a Square reader and this app on the iPhone and iPad so I can sell copies of my book when I travel to events.

Tripit – When I travel, this app combined with the TripIt Pro service is invaluable. Keep track of my flights, hotel and in-between travel, along with maps of cities and airports.

Minimal Folio – Great app for giving presentations from on the go.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Casual gaming, which when it happens is either Letterpress, Angry Birds or Armageddon Squadron, an old WWII fighter pilot game on the iPhone.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

I use my iPhone constantly through the day — email, Twitter and Reeder in the morning, podcasts or music for the drive to and from work, and other uses all day long.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

My favorite feature of the iPhone and iPad is the portability and power in an elegant package. I’m sometimes shocked at the power I now have in my pocket to do so much — the version of myself from 20 or even 10 years ago would be dumbfounded to learn that the future me would have a phone more powerful than the Mac I was using to design logos with.

I learned how valuable the iPad could be through the process of writing The Sketchnote Handbook. I used it to write the manuscript with a Bluetooth keyboard, for reference as I sketched the book, to edit scripts and as a teleprompter when shooting the book’s videos and as a testing device when I loaded the final PDFs for review.

Probably the secret, underlying feature that makes them most valuable is the long battery life, particularly on the iPad. It’s become a serious creating machine for writing and concepting because I can spend a day traveling or at a cafe and never think about battery.

Anything else you would like to add?

David, thank you for making a space with the home screen series where users can share how they apply these amazing machines we have in their own lives. I’ve subscribed to the series and will look forward to reading back and seeing new pieces appear in the future.

Thanks Mike.