Home Screens – MacSparky’s Strange Looking iPad

This week I’m featuring my own iOS 11 iPad home screen, partly because it’s so weird. Here it is. (Click to enlarge.)

The Gorilla on the Couch – That Crazy Dock

For a long time, I’ve kept all my apps on the home screen with everything not on the screen located in four folders. I’ve given those folders verb names, Make, Learn, Fix, and Play. Traditionally I opened apps from the home screen or one of those folders. I still do that on my iPhone.

To say I flipped out when Apple announced iOS 11 is an understatement. I installed beta 1 like a crazy man. One of my first observations about iOS 11 was that the dock is now much more important. It is prime real estate for apps, particularly if you like to use split screen multitasking. Unless you have your iPad connected to a keyboard, getting to apps to split the screen takes too many steps. At first I filled the dock with as many icons as it would accept but then they got too small and I use enough apps that I still didn’t have everything I regularly needed.

About halfway through the iOS 11 beta, I got the idea of putting all my apps on the dock. It started out as a sort-of joke so I could share screenshots of my iPad looking more like a Mac. The thing is though … it worked for me. So now my home screen is empty and my dock has a few essentials, but also my Make, Learn, Fix, and Play folders. Opening the folder to get to a split screen app feels silly but is still way faster than getting to an app on the home screen.

All of my nerd-friends think I’m crazy but I’ve been pretty happy with this setup. I think the tipping point for this is people that use multitasking without a keyboard. If that’s you, give this a try for a week.

The other thing I did was to turn off Suggested and Recent Apps to the right of my dock. I found I wasn’t paying attention to those so a few weeks ago I toggled them off in the Dock preferences tab. I haven’t missed them.

Some of My Favorite Apps

I love so many Apps. For this post, I want to focus on a few that particularly shine in iOS 11:


There was a lot of talk prior to iOS 11 about adding a “shelf” to iOS. Federico Viticci did a great job of showing the advantage of such an interface in his iOS 11 concept video. Apple didn’t add a shelf but with the drag and drop tools, they made it possible for third party app developers to, in essence, make a shelf. The idea behind a shelf is a temporary space on your iPad where you can store things for later use, like digital walnuts you’re burying for winter.

There are a lot of developers releasing shelf apps and I’ve been buying and trying these as they release. I don’t know what app will rise to the top of this space but my current favorite is Gladys. With this app, I can drop most kinds of media, text, and links as I collect them on a project and, using slide over, have them available for use elsewhere as I work on my iPad. This is such a key tool for multitasking that I’ve put Gladys in my dock despite how much I dislike the icon.


Of course the Fantastical team was early to drag and drop. Not only can you now drag and drop events and reminders inside Fantastical, you can also pull events out of Fantastical and drop them in other apps. Drag an appointment out of Fantastical into an email and it becomes an ICS file. Drag some text into Fantastical and it creates an event using the dropped text.


Drag and drop OmniFocus has been a game changer for me. Every day I start out auditing my email on the iPad with Apple Mail on the left and OmniFocus on the right. Much dragging and dropping ensues. One of the nice things is the link-back created in OmniFocus for linked emails works on both Mac and iOS. I’ve already started production on some screencasts around OmniFocus and iOS 11. It will be a free update to the OmniFocus Video Field Guide and I’ll be releasing it in the next month (hopefully a few weeks).


This is another app that jumped into drag and drop with both feet. The new 1Password lets me drag passwords onto web forms and re-arrange fields internally.

I feel like this drag and drop thing is going to only get better as app developers feed off each other’s ideas.

My Current Guilty Pleasure

I’m spending a lot of time in iBooks lately. It’s not debugging one of my own iBooks but instead reading Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View. A lot of Star Wars fiction is garbage. This is not.

A Small Change

If I were in charge at Apple, I would continue iterate on multitasking. One small change that I think could help would be to include Finder search at the top of the Control Center/Spaces screen. That’s accessible from a single swipe up from the bottom of the screen and would make it much easier to get to non-dock-based apps when multitasking.

My Wallpaper

Another advantage of putting everything in the dock is that I can use really nice wallpaper and see it all. Currently I’m using some concept art from the Disneyland Star Wars expansion. I change wallpapers often though.