Home Screens: Mark Miller

Mark Miller (Twitter), is a MacSparky.com reader and Mac Power Users listener that recently suggested I add question to the usual assortment of home screen questions about under-used apps. I thought it was such a good idea that I added it to the list and then bent Mark’s arm to be the first person to answer it. So Mark, show us your homescreen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Almost everything on my homescreen is a favorite, but here are some more interesting ones:

Sleep Cycle – Terrific alarm that wakes me up according to my sleep cycle. When I don’t use it, I can tell the difference in how I wake up.

Human – Fitness app that has helped me be healthier more than anything else. Integration with Health.app is fantastic.

PrayerMateESV Study+ReadingPlan – Great apps I use to pray, study the Bible, and track my Bible reading (respectively).

DayOne – My wife and I are expecting our first child and this app has made it so easy to chronicle the pregnancy.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Probably Instagram because of how easy it is to waste time.

What app makes you most productive?

It’s hard to choose just one. Here are the ones that make me most productive with iPhone tasks:

I use IFTTT to load RSS feeds & email subscriptions into Pocket, to create tasks in Things from Gmail, to save articles from Pocket into Evernote, to help import Instagram posts into DayOne, and much more.

I use Drafts to capture tasks, info, or anything else. Integration with Things, Evernote & other apps makes it the best place to capture and process text.

Instead of reading articles, I put them in Pocket. That allows me to prioritize which (few) articles I have time to read each evening.

I couldn’t live without Things to track/organize my tasks for me. Not often that you love your task manager, but I do.

I use Launch Center Pro to pre-populate DayOne entries and trigger them at specific times; I also add geo-location triggers to my Workflows. Both are incredibly useful.

DeskConnect is my go-to app for transferring text/URLs/etc between my devices. Incredibly fast, helpful, and free. (Made by the same folks that made Workflow).

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

I’m certainly underutilizing Launch Center Pro and Workflow, particularly in the way they can work together and integrate with IFTTT. There’s huge power there, but I haven’t had the time yet to create those connections.

What is the app you are still missing?

I’m still looking for the single photo editor that meets all my needs. Many are too simple or too complex, too poorly designed, or too spammy. Right now I have 6–8 apps I use for a single purpose/feature, but not all have Action Extensions, so that’s a pain point for me. 

I’m also looking for an iPad/iPhone/Mac email client that can add items directly to Pocket and Things. Dispatch is almost exactly what I want, except it’s iPhone-only at present.

I also would like a Dropbox-equivalent app for iCloud Drive.

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

Almost constantly. I frequently have to charge midday even though I have an iPhone 6.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I ruthlessly organize my homescreen so nothing is more than 3 taps away. That means that it’s almost always faster to open an app than to launch the app/action from the Today. Thus, my widgets almost exclusively show info.

I currently have Things (see/check off tasks), Reminders (time/location tasks), Human (daily activity), Clips (combine copy & paste), Parcels (track delivery), Day One (random pictures), Data Usage (track data usage), Stepz(pedometer), and Tally (currently beta-testing).

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I love the seamlessness of the entire ecosystem; from integrated TouchID/ApplePay to vibrant app store to Continuity & Handoff. Nothing else comes close. 

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I’d step up efforts on making cloud services more reliable. 95% of the time, iCloud just works for me, but that 5% is very frustrating. For example, I have over 300 keyboard shortcuts that I use, but they have never reliably synced so that my Mac, iPhone, and iPad each have different shortcuts. I only discover which ones didn’t sync after I try to use it and they fail.

I’d also create an iCloud Drive app like Dropbox’s. Or maybe I’d just buy Dropbox as they do excellent syncing in the consumer space.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I’m using a standard Apple background of a galaxy. I’ve always loved space, so that was the initial attraction, but I found the black background makes the parallax effect shine. If you haven’t liked parallax before, try it with a black background; it’s gorgeous. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

I use emoticons to name my folders; I’ve found I can identify an emoticon faster than I can read text, making it faster to find the folder (especially on my second home screen, mostly of folders)

If you’re interested in following me on Twitter, I try to tweet at the intersection of Apple, China, and humanities. I spent 5 years as an expat in China, so I’m particularly interested in how Chinese culture and politics affect Apple’s strategy. @MarkDMill

Thanks Mark.