Home Screen: Eddie Smith


It’s been a long time since Eddie Smith first showed his home screen here on MacSparky. I thought it was time for an update so he shared one. In case you don’t know them already, Eddie writes the Practically Efficient blog and is one of my best nerd friends. We even wrote a book together. So Eddie, show us your home screen.


What are some of your favorite apps?

Every app on my home screen is a favorite in some way. They range from really sophisticated task managers like OmniFocus to single-feature gems like Lighty. In fact, Lighty, my favorite flash light app, is one of the most important apps on my phone. I use it all the time, and it’s probably saved me real dollars in the foregone cost of replacing batteries in little flash lights around my house.

Productivity Apps:

One notable trend on my iPhone in the last year is the inclusion of more and more Google apps. Until the last year, I felt like Google intentionally avoided putting development resources into its iOS apps, but that seems to be changing.

I tried very hard to use the default Apple Maps app that debuted with iOS 6, but I’ve found the search in Google Maps (Google’s response to the new Apple Maps) far more intelligent. Given that I use maps apps primarily for location and phone number searches, the Google Maps app is a better fit on my home screen.

I use Google Voice as my voicemail solution—partly because it provides a convenient text transcription of voice messages and partly for the entertainment value in how poorly it often transcribes those messages.

Google’s Gmail app really sucked until version 2.0 came along. It seemed like a slow, laggy mobile version of the full Gmail web UI. 2.0 is much better, and while I’ve tried using the default Mail app, Mailbox, and others, the Gmail app suits me best the way I use email on my phone—which is mainly to process incoming mail and search for archived mail.

Another notable Google app I’m using (that isn’t on my home screen) is the new Google Drive app. For the first time, I feel like I can reliably edit Google documents and spreadsheets from my iPhone and iPad. In fact, I think the spreadsheet interface in Google Drive is the best mobile spreadsheet interface I’ve seen so far.

Enough on Google.

If the Gmail app is my favorite app for pulling email, Drafts is my favorite for pushing email. In fact, I’m composing more and more of all kinds of things in Drafts. I just love the simplicity of having a single point of entry for text on my home screen. I think of Drafts as a more natural human way of entering text—more like a sticky note in the pre-digital world.

While most digital interfaces for text entry—from email clients to task management systems—encourage you to “title” something and choose its destination first, Drafts encourages you to get the message or content down first, then choose its destination. I would love to see this design concept bleed into other mobile and desktop interfaces.

Day One, Evernote, and Notesy give me access to most of my personal information. I love tracking simple goals in Day One. Evernote is like a paperless filing cabinet in my pocket. Notesy gives me access to all of my plain text notes in Dropbox.

Soulver is my favorite calculator app, not only on the iPhone but on my iPad and Mac as well.

For task management, I mainly use OmniFocus. The OmniFocus iPhone app is really useful for capturing inbox items. I’ve starting using Drafts to send things to OmniFocus instead of starting with OmniFocus, though.

I use the built-in Reminders app for short-term but important reminders that I want pushed to all of my devices (e.g. “Put jeans in the dryer” when I really need to remember to do that.)

I’m glad this is a home screen post because I would be embarrassed to show you how many weather apps live elsewhere on my iPhone. Today is my current favorite for checking current weather and daily forecasts. The new Forecast.io and Dark Sky, however, both get a lot of use, too.

While we’re talking life management, it’s worth noting that I have two calendar apps on my home screen. I really like Fantastical’s natural language entry system, and I use it a lot—mainly in situations where it’s not appropriate to speak aloud to Siri. I can’t bring myself to remove the default calendar app because I really like having today’s date displayed on my home screen.


I prefer to read on my iPad, but I actually read way more on my iPhone because it’s with me all the time. I’ve really been digging Newstand in the last year. Marco Arment has done a great job with The Magazine, which lives in Newstand along with the New York Times app and The Economist. The Times app is easily the best news app I’ve ever used. If they would get rid of ads in the paid version, it would be even better.

Tweetbot, Reeder, and Instapaper live in my News folder. Tweetbot lets me capture important links on Twitter, and Reeder is my favorite place for following RSS feeds. And Instapaper, of course, my favorite place to read the articles I find in Tweetbot and Reeder.

I listen to a lot of audio through my iPhone. Virtually all of it comes from Instacast, my favorite app for following podcasts, and Pandora.

What app are you still missing?

I’m really looking forward to see how Google’s killing of Google Reader will change the way we subscribe to websites. I would like to see someone develop web services and apps that make it easier to not only follow newly published information but that also make it easy to subscribe to archived information. For example, I wish there was a way to browse older content more easily when I find, say, a blog that’s already been active for years—kind of like working through a box of old Life magazines.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks for having me back. It’s always a pleasure working with you, reading you, and listening to you.

Thanks Edddie.