Home Screens – Todd Peterson

Lately I’ve struck up an email friendship with Todd Peterson, the Director of Project-Based Learning and Professor of English at Southern Utah University. Not surprisingly, Todd is an articulate guy and pretty passionate about his new iPhone 7. Thankfully, he’s agreed to share his home screen with us. So Todd, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?


This app helps me review and delete pictures I don’t want to keep. It’s step one of my developing photo organization workflow. My old process was untenable. This app gets me going in the right direction.


Evernote is my digital filing cabinet. I love the OCR, searchability, and relational algorithms in it. Evernote helps me find cool associations in the menagerie of things I capture and store. Because of iPhone scanning, I now keep a large piece of black poster board by my desk, which makes a great contrasting background for auto-edge detection.


This is my workhorse application. It’s helped me eliminate the stacks of scraps paper. The prepend and append functions are amazing. When I’m waiting for a meeting (or bored in one) I will process captured bits of text. It’s very satisfying to have all that material in the cloud and findable. 


I love this application. I’m currently revising a novel for an agent using this application. The sync is spot on, and the iPhone 7 Plus is big enough, I’ve found I can actually write and edit a little on it in a pinch.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Instagram. I’ve been working on curating a pretty good list of friends and strangers. I love peeking into their lives and seeing various bits of the world throughout the day. I also love to capture my own moments (a lot of my kids) and post them. My wife and high school-age-daughter are both on Instagram and they say the photographs really capture our family. It’s a delightful, politics-free way to interact with others.

What app makes you most productive? 

Slack. There are so many reasons why this has been a break through for me as a college professor. I can’t even start into it, or this post would be 10,000 words long.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

OmniFocus. It’s such an important application for me, and I know I’m only using about 30% of it. I could do so much more with time estimates, views, perspectives, and geofencing. I need to take a day with the Mac Sparky OmniFocus Field Guide and play around.

What is the app you are still missing?

Drafts for desktop. Drafts has so fundamentally changed my idea of how to capture and process ideas, that I feel shackled on a desktop. When an idea hits while I’m working on my MacBook Pro, I’ll often go to my phone to capture and process it.

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

Since I have Apple Watch, my iPhone use has gone down. I’ve filtered and sorted notifications so I can focus. As a college professor, a lot of my work is headdown thinking, reading, writing, planning, and grading. Distractions kill my momentum. I’ve also recently pulled all social media apps from my iPhone except Instagram, so I’ve only got my head in my phone a couple of times an hour. Before these changes, it was ridiculous with how often I checked my phone.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

Up Next

I’m always forgetting about meetings I’ve scheduled. It was worse when other people were scheduling for me. It’s better, actually, now that I schedule myself, but I need to keep those promises right up in front.


I have so many books in the cloud, this widget reminds me of what I’m currently reading, and I love how it shows progress. Instead of grazing social media when I have a spare moment, I swipe into notifications, tap, and read. 

Dark Sky

I love this app so much, and I like being able to quickly tell my kids why they can’t leave the house without a jacket even though it seems fine right now.


My key ring was getting shaggy with all those dumb-but-necessary bar code cards. I’ve moved them to Stocard, and I love that they are available right off the lock screen. There’s a watch app, but it’s too many taps.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I really like the “hard press.” In my mind, I’m always begging developers to reduce the number of steps to do something. Drafts is the pinnacle of this for me: tap, write, tap, and it’s done. On the flip side, playing any music on iTunes is: tap, tap, tap, scroll, tap, play (or worse). Drives me crazy. 

I haven’t had the iPhone 7 Plus for very long, and I’m still finding places where there are hard press opportunities.

In general, though, my favorite feature of the iPhone is the fact that it sits at the core of my workflow. It’s not just part of an ecosystem, or attached to it, like an Android phone would be. I’m not lying when I say the camera qualities of the Google Pixel camera are enticing, but my iPhone is a window into my entire workflow, it’s a dashboard, input device, quick reference and retrieval tool. A Google phone would be outside of all that and would seriously mess with my mojo.

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

Bluetooth makes me crazy, especially for audio. I like the idea of it, but in practice I’m forever connecting and disconnecting speakers. I have a nice Tivoli PAL^BT radio that sits on my desk and a Bose SL III in the kitchen. They always seem to tangle each other up. If I could connect and disconnect Bluetooth devices using Siri, then we’d be off to the races.

I would also try to hire Greg Pierce, the man behind Agile Tortoise or the people at Realmac, who make the delightful list-making app, Clear, to dive into the UI of iTunes. I think these people have a good sense for how to reduce friction points in a user interface. Things are a little better for iTunes in iOS 10, but in my opinion iTunes is the least of Apple’s achievements.

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

I love my Apple Watch. Its primary function is to keep me from always checking my phone, and it works. I have the notifications finely tuned, and I only get messages and information that really matter: Slack messages from key people on my team, texts from my wife and kids, emails from my dean. Otherwise, these potential distractions are sequestered in the phone.

I love analog watches, and that was a significant concern for me in going to a smart watch. The hands on a watch or clock are cool because they don’t just tell you what time it is, they also tell you what time it has been and what time it’s going to be. I feel like an analog face always keeps time in context for me.

I have two customized faces.


Complications: Fantastical, Day/Date, Temp, Activity. All of this is information I check and re-check throughout the day. Having my next calendar item on the watch face has had a very positive effect on my tendency to forget to check appointments.


Complications: Date, Breathe, United/Delta, World Clock. When I travel I check very trip-specific information, so I’ve built a face that has all of that stuff. It’s based around displaying my destination time using the World Clock, and then my airline’s apps, and the Breathe app, which helps me mellow out in stupid TSA lines.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

A black nylon pattern. I’m really distractable visually, and I like low-clutter minimalistic backgrounds but not a flat tone or color. Given all the visual complexity on a home screen already, adding a picture would be too much. I have a great close up picture of a Batman action figure on my lock screen. It is delightful everytime I see him scowling at me.

Anything else you’d like to share?

The apps are one thing, but how I actually manipulate the phone is a big deal, too. The Loopy Case is a game changer for me. The iPhone 7 Plus tests the reach of my thumb, and I always feel like the thing is going to fly out of my hands. A developer friend of mine put me on to this case. He says he can’t fathom using a iPhone without it, and neither can I.

Thanks Todd.