I first met Larry Port (Twitter)(Website) at the American Bar Association TechShow. Larry is deep into technology and good design. So much so that he has been taking on (successfully) the most slow-to-change industry on the planet, the legal profession, with his revolutionary Rocket Matter service. So Larry, show us your home screen.
What are some of your favorite apps?
I know it sounds weird to chose Camera. I love taking pictures and video with my iPhone. I was a photojournalist before I got into software, and I can’t get over the quality of the photographs the native iPhone camera affords. Also, I recently edited our first home movies using exclusively iPhone video content. The representation of my family life as depicted through these videos is so much richer and accurate than the videos created with a dedicated camcorder, since the iPhones are constantly in hand. The camera is my favorite app period.
Typically I view my iPhone and my iPad as consumption devices, not tools for the creation of data or information. However, my usage of Evernote’s mobile tool is more creation the consumption oriented. I record audio notes, take pictures, and constantly capture information. When I get to my computer, this information is already there, ready to go and synched. Occasionally I look something up I’ve saved on mobile Evernote, but more often I look things up on my MacBook Air, where Evernote is open all day long.
I love both Pandora and Spotify. Very little of my music consumption takes place via my iTunes music collection anymore. Who has time for synching? I prefer Pandora to Spotify because I am too lazy and musically uninspired to build playlists and discover new artists. I love how Pandora plays stuff I just like, whether I know the song or artist or not.
A small cup of Starbucks coffee contains 250mg of caffeine. For a frame of reference, espresso tops out at about 75mg. Let’s face it: Starbucks sells a drug I am addicted to. And their app allows me to pay for my addiction easily and rewards me with a free vial - I mean cup - of coffee every so often. I also get free apps on the iTunes app store.
I try to listen to a dozen business books a year. I listen to them instead of reading because I don’t find reading business books any fun at all, but find listening to them very stimulating. I queue up Audible for my car ride to and from the office, knocking off about 30 minutes of “reading" a day. Right now I’m "rereading” Good to Great, Jim Collins’ classic. Audible is vastly improved in recent years if you haven’t tried it lately.
Rocket Matter is a distributed company with workers in different locations. We synch up regularly to stay in alignment with daily stand ups, weekly management meetings, and monthly reviews. We’re always using GoToMeeting to communicate. It’s important to see faces as well as hear voices when you’re remote. Even though I’m in our HQ most of the time, I travel frequently and meet with clients so I don’t want to miss an important meeting when I’m out.
We manage our business through the software we created. Rocket Matter, while in reality a legal practice management solution, is actually a very good project management program as well. I use the app to keep track of my current projects (which are really matters), view my calendar, and track my expenses. In the software business, using your own product is often referred to as “eating one’s own dog food.” I prefer the more elegant “drinking one’s own wine."
Google Maps, TripIt, Yelp, and Uber form my traveling swiss army knife. Google Maps stays on my home screen because, in addition to travel usage, I use it locally as well. It’s how I look up local telephone numbers. I don’t LOVE this app, but then again, I don’t love the phone book either. It’s just a utility that works amazingly well that I use frequently.
Netflix, believe it or not, is critical to me staying in shape. I am able to survive the boredom of 30-minute elliptical workouts by binge watching TV shows. Right now I’m going through season one of Star Trek - the original series. I haven’t used Netflix on my iPhone in any other context. I don’t have a bus or train commute and can’t think of another instance where I would want to stare at a small screen for video.
I am very selective about what news I consume, especially when it's push, not pull oriented. Marketplace, which is broadcast on my local NPR station, makes the cut. The show is somehow able to make business and economic news highly entertaining. No one is rude, no one interrupts one another, and no one is brash or stupid. Instead, you get thoughtful, nuanced, and clever reporting. Since I'm rarely in my car at the right time to listen, their podcast app keeps me tuned in and informed.
When I track what I eat, I maintain my correct weight. It’s that simple. Lose It! is an incredible tracking app, which ties into my primitive human urge to set and track my progress toward goals. The UI is terrific, as is the web interface. I keep it on my home screen to remind me to enter my consumption and physical activity and shame me when I haven’t been tracking. Plus, I’m a sucker for cool icons, and they have more cute little icons for different foods and forms of exercise than I could wish for in my wildest fantasies.
We have an Apple TV which we use constantly. We lose the tiny little remote it came with once a day. The Remote app mitigates this problem by allowing us to control the Apple TV from anyone’s iPhone, iPad, or iTouch. It’s also much more helpful for searches, since you can type with a keyboard instead of selecting letters one at a time. I never thought I would appreciate the iPhone’s keyboard, but compared to spelling things out character by character with the native Apple TV remote, the app is a breeze.
We are total data heads at Rocket Matter. We’re always analyzing numbers critical for our business. One of the most important drivers is the health of our web traffic, so I use Analytiks, which has a beautiful interface for Google Analytics. Analytiks allows me to quickly see how the traffic is doing for our Rocket Matter and Legal Productivity sites.
Which app is your guilty pleasure?
The cool thing about StubHub is not just that you can get decently priced last-minute tickets to events, but when you travel you can get your pulse on everything that’s going on in the city. In Nashville for work? Wanna see if you can catch a Titans game or see one of the zillion of concerts going on in the city? StubHub.
What is the app you are still missing?
I wish I had an app that automatically doubles your battery life. How awesome would it be to have an app that has a button that says “boost battery” and automatically gives you a full charge? Also, if my Starbucks app actually refilled my coffee cup, THAT would be impressive.
How many times a day do you use your iPhone?
The phone is with me constantly when I’m out of the house, whether I’m at the office or the gym. I’m always using it, except when I’m driving. Even then I’m really using it as I’m listening to an audiobook or podcast but I don’t have it in hand. When I return from work and I’m at home, I keep it away in my pocket and try not to use it so my children do not remember me staring at a screen for the duration of their formative years. At home I try to limit use to answering texts and using the camera.
What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?
My life is qualitatively better when I’m on the go because of my iPhone. I love how I can launch the Kindle app and pick up my book where I left off the night before. I can FaceTime my family. I have access to any document I might need because of the cloud apps I use. I keep my travel documents neatly organized. I can navigate a new city on foot, order an Uber car, find an awesome restaurant, and get tickets to a ballgame. The iPhone makes traveling for work so much more enjoyable.
If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?
They really need to resolve the issue with the short battery life. My iPhone cannot survive a day without my Mophie case, which extends battery life by 100%. If I use the iPhone the way I use it, for audiobooks, phone calls, web surfing and maps, the internal battery will be exhausted before 2pm.
I would like a button that says “no notifications, ever, in any shape or form” instead of having to wade through so many configurations for them, which never seem to work.
I would also like to add home screen buttons that call contacts without having to jailbreak the phone, run a third party app, or do some sort of convoluted solution.
I would like the back of the phone to blow out little streams of air so that it could glide across a table like an air hockey puck.
What's your wallpaper and why?
Currently my lock screen is a picture of Marty Feldman. This is an unusual situation, because my son and I have been on a big Young Frankenstein kick and he reset the lock screen when I wasn’t looking. I thought it was hilarious so I’m leaving it that way for a while. Normally I try to use photographs that I’ve taken from nature with the phone’s amazing camera. Every one in a while I download a stunning image from the Subreddit “Earth Porn”, which has really beautiful and mind-blowing stuff.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I use a Mophie case to extend battery life. Also, as much as I love my iPhone, I need to disconnect from it. I love being connected, but I hate being over-connected. I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my iPhone because I found that I was compulsively checking them and it was more annoying than fun.