Home Screen – Michael Kummer

There are so many smart people generating interesting content on the Internet. One of those that I recently came across is Michael Kummer (Website) (Twitter). Michael writes about a variety of topics but I particularly enjoy his posts about technology and photography. So Michael, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Some of my favorite apps include: 1Password, Mail, Messages, FaceTime, OmniFocus, Tweetbot, Workflow and Camera.

  • I have been using 1Password for years and it contains every password for every account I have (~850 entries). I have seen the consequences of weak or repeating passwords among friends and family and I can only encourage everyone to use a good password manager.
  • Apple’s native Mail app is still my favorite, even after having tried several alternatives on both iOS and macOS, including Outlook. In the past, I was missing swipe actions to quickly and efficiently process emails in my inbox. Apple added those in iOS 9 and in iOS 10 they have gotten even better by including a “swipe to move” action.
  • FaceTime and iMessages are important parts of my communications strategy, especially with our spread out family (who live in Austria and Costa Rica). I’m thrilled that Apple finally added per-conversation read receipts to Messages in iOS 10. They had announced that feature at WWDC a year ago but it never materialized until now.
  • I have to thank MacSparky for doing such as great job on the OmniFocus Field Guide because that triggered my interest in OmniFocus. Now I don’t know how I would live without it. It’s such a great productivity tool that makes it easy to get stuff done.
  • Tweetbot is my favorite Twitter client on both iOS and macOS. I especially like how it keeps my timeline in sync across multiple devices.
  • I open the Workflow app directly but use it often enough through Today View. I created several workflows that would allow me to quickly enter certain health data from devices that aren’t compatible with HealthKit. So every morning my weight and most evenings my blood pressure find its way into the Health app through a workflow I setup using the Workflow app.
  • I used to own several Nikon cameras and expensive lenses but retired them as the iPhone’s camera got better and better. You know the saying: “The best camera is the one you have on you” – and I didn’t have my Nikon on me nearly as often as I would liked have. The Camera app is the perfect companion to the iPhone’s excellent hardware. Rarely do I need to adjust exposure settings (aperture, ISO or shutter speed) manually but if I do, I rely on an app called Slow Shutter.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I wanted to say Tweetbot but in reality it’s the WordPress app. I don’t use the WordPress app to write content for my blog but I regularly check how well my posts are doing in terms of visitor count. It never seizes to amaze me how certain posts keep engaging visitors for months in a row. My post on an “out of memory” issue in OS X Mavericks is still in the top 10 every day. That makes me wonder why so many people still run such an old version of OS X.

What app makes you most productive?

On the iPhone it’s definitely the Mail app, as processing emails is what I do most on my iPhone from a productivity standpoint. I guess you could say that I still feel most productive on a Mac and not on an iOS device.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Drafts, for sure. I put it on my home screen and moved Notes to the second screen for exactly that reason. I know it’s a great app with a ton of features but I have yet to use it to the fullest of its capabilities.

What is the app you are still missing?

There isn’t an app I’m missing but rather infrastructure that I wished Apple had provided a long time ago. iCloud sharing à la Dropbox for example. Apple is finally moving in the right direction with Notes sharing in iOS 10 and macOS 10.12, I just hope they add the same capabilities to iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library etc soon as well.

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

Before I got an Apple Watch, I used to unlock my iPhone countless times a day. Don’t get me wrong, I still use my iOS devices plenty of times but the Apple Watch definitely reduced the amount of time I’m on my iPhone/iPad. Also, while I’m in front of my Mac, I don’t really need my iPhone either. I can make and receive calls thanks to Wi-Fi Calling (which is still buggy), get notifications and do pretty much everything else I could do on my iPhone. The situation changes dramatically of course when I’m on the go and out of the house or office.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I use Today View a lot and typically do so to either get a glimpse of important information (Calendar, pending tasks…) or to perform quick tasks through Workflow.

My current Today View contains the following widgets:

  • Up Next: The next appointment in my calendar
  • Omnifocus: Tasks due or pending
  • Drafts: Yet another incentive to use it more often
  • Workflow: Workflows to enter my weight and blood pressure without having to fire up the app
  • Apple News
  • Personal Capital (Holdings): To see how my investments are doing
  • Dark Sky: Weather forecast for the next hour
  • Siri App Suggestions: I don’t use that very often but Siri gets it right enough to warrant its spot in the widget list
  • Maps Destinations: I’ll probably get rid of this because the information it shows is already presented in the “Up Next” widget. Plus, when I get into the car I get a notification with traffic information, that if clicked, opens Maps.
  • Stocks: Details on how my investments are doing
  • Find Friends: I use this a lot to see where family members are before calling them. That way, I reduce the chance of interrupting in whatever they may be doing, such as working.
  • Personal Capital (Recent Transactions)
  • Amazon: To see upcoming deliveries

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The iPhone’s camera and TouchID on both the iPhone and iPad.

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

I would try to stop releasing half-baked features. The sharing features in Numbers, Pages and Keynotes, when launched, were years behind what other companies were offering at the time. Collaboration in Notes (in iOS 10 and macOS 10.12) is great but why release it standalone instead of adding it to the rest of the infrastructure first. I’d say that the need to share files/folders and collaborate on them is far greater than the need to share individual notes. I also would try to fix certain bugs a lot faster than Apple has done in the past. Prime examples include: ever returning keyboard shortcuts or bandwidth management for iCloud services, specifically iCloud Photo Library. Last but not least, I would introduce a better
feedback mechanism for developers and public beta testers. It’s still very hard to get an idea if a submitted bug got any attention from Apple or when it will be fixed.

Do you have an Apple Watch? Show us your watch face tell us about it.

I have an Apple Watch Sport and switch back and forth between two watch faces. The Modular watch face is what I use during the week and the Activity watch face is what I use on weekends. The Modular watch face shows me important information such as date and time, upcoming appointments, temperature, open tasks in OmniFocus and it gives me a shortcut to enable sleep mode using Sleep++.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I use a non-distracting wallpaper so I can find apps quickly. I used to have photos of family members but found that they easily distract my eyes when looking for apps – as funny and bad as it may sound 🙂

Anything else you’d like to share?

My home screen doesn’t change often but it does change. I regularly revisit what apps deserve this prime spot and I intentionally put apps on my home screen that I would like to use more often. Besides my home screen, I generally revisit all apps I have installed every so often and delete what I don’t use.

Thanks Michael.