Last month we interviewed Apple Distinguished Educator, musician, and music teacher Shirantha Beddage (website) (Twitter) on Mac Power Users. Shirantha has released three jazz albums and is an excellent candidate for a Jazz Friday post here at MacSparky. Besides that, Shirantha’s enthusiasm for his music, his students, and using technology is infections. So Shirantha, show us your home screen.
What are some of your favorite apps?
Oh, so many! On iPhone 7, I’m most frequently using Calendar, Maps (love the Apple Watch integration here!), Podcasts and Scanner Pro. Calendar and Maps are great for their clean interfaces and Watch integration. Scanner Pro has become an invaluable asset for capturing receipts on the go. As a small business owner (ie. musician), organization has always been a big challenge for me. I love the “workflow creator” in Scanner Pro, which helps me to capture my receipts as PDFs and send them into a Dropbox folder. These PDFs are then moved by Hazel into a Taxes folder on my home NAS server, which allows me to have everything in one place during tax season. Tempo Advance is my go-to metronome in a pinch, whether I’m dealing with simple music or complex polyrhythms. And I’m always firing up the Podcasts app, to stay up on my U.S. politics, true crime, and of course Mac Power Users.
I use my 12.9’’ iPad Pro for teaching and practicing exclusively. I don’t have email or calendars set up on it, as this device was provided by my school. For teaching, GoodNotes has become my PowerPoint replacement for classroom presentations. The handwriting recognition is remarkable, and the TV-out features help to eliminate distractions on-screen. For practicing, I use ForScore quite often. It’s a great all-in-one tool for reading PDF sheet music. I’ve been using it on live gigs as well, in situations where I’m more comfortable with my own mark-ups on the scores than the blank printed copies provided by the bandleader.
Which app is your guilty pleasure?
At the moment, I’m having a lot of fun with Clips. It’s great on my 12.9’’ iPad Pro. This past summer, my Apple Distinguished Educator colleagues showed me how to use Instagram filters, so I’ve been playing around with those a bit, too. In case you’re wondering, I look great as a koala bear.
What app makes you most productive?
OmniFocus is the big winner here. On iPhone I use it for reference, or for inputting tasks via Siri, but I do the heavy lifting on my Mac. AirMail takes a close second prize. I love the snoozes, delayed replies, and integrations with other apps. AirMail helps me to stay fairly close to the coveted “zero inbox” (sweet bliss!).
What app do you know you're underutilizing?
The Camera app. Probably Workflow, too.
What is the app you are still missing?
I’m not sure I have a desire for any new apps at this point; I’m mostly thankful for the tools I have, and I’m trying to use them as best as I can. On the other hand, if there’s an app that could do the dishes…
How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?
I limit my iPad Pro to teaching and music practice, so my use varies from day to day. My iPhone is most frequently used as an music / podcast player, and I try to limit my use of e-mail apps to 2-3 times daily. Even then, I try to do most of my e-mailing on my Mac, because of the screen real estate, TextExpander snippets, etc. My texts and phone calls are usually handled on my Apple Watch. I check in with social media, briefly, once a day, maybe twice on my phone.
By nature, I think I’m an easily distracted person, so I have to constantly take steps to cultivate my focus in order to stay present in many facets of my life. The iPhone is a both a blessing and a curse for productivity, so I try and use it only as often as I need to. I turn off most notifications on my devices, and I take pleasure in powering down my phone or using Do Not Disturb mode when I can. I encourage my students to do the same, unless it’s absolutely necessary.
What Today View widgets are you using and why?
Calendar, Weather, OmniFocus, and Workflow, though I don’t use the Today view very much at all. 3D Touch seems to cover me most of the time.
What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?
Apple’s stance on privacy. The iPhone and iPad provide a great mix of utility and usability, while protecting the privacy of the customer. I realize that it must be an enormous challenge to tread this fine line, especially since privacy and security issues are evolving at such a rapid pace.
If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?
I have no complaints whatsoever, and I’m excited to see the new surprises that Apple has in store for us in the coming months and years, but I’m the kind of person that enjoys “diving in” and spending the time to learn new technologies as they evolve. I’m also aware that not everyone feels the same way.
Do you have an Apple Watch? Show us your watch face tell us about it.
Yes! I use the Apple Watch more as a productivity / reminder aid than as an activity tracker. For that reason, I really like the Utility face on busy days; I can see the date, my next event, weather, Drafts, and Omnifocus. When I’m not so busy, I flip over to Timelapse face to avoid information overload.
What's your wallpaper and why?
Stock images mostly. I like simple wallpapers with minimal busyness. Sand, calm waters, mountains, that sort of thing. Less distracting.
Anything else you'd like to share?
This was fun. Thank you!
Thank you Shirantha. Keep the jazz coming.