Home Screens – Developer Elia Freedman


This week’s home screen features Elia Freedman (website)(Twitter), the developer of the PowerOne calculators, one of my favorite calculators, particularly for business and special purpose functions. Elia’s been paying for his shoes with mobile apps much longer than the iPhone has been around and has some definite opinions on how he uses his iPhone. So Elia, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

I love productivity software! (Surprise given that if I’m known for anything I’m known for writing a calculator for the past 22 years!) In particular, I love GoodNotes. I prefer handwriting lots of stuff, to be honest, and GoodNotes lets me take notes, draw screen designs for my software, and all kinds of other stuff all in one app. I spend a lot of time in my own app, PowerOne calculator, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Reeder for RSS feeds as well.

For work I spend a lot of time in Slack and Asana. Asana, for tasks, is as close to my own mental model for how to do task lists. We use it for tracking bugs, feature requests, and what we are currently working on.

I’m also learning to play guitar and have a number of apps for that as well. I use GoodNotes to transpose tab notation on various songs, my teacher actually draws on a whiteboard and I take pictures of all the lessons, and I use apps for tuning my guitar (GuitarTuna), apps for slowing down songs (Capo), and an app that has tons of tabs for songs (GuitarTabs).

Finally, during baseball season, you’d find me in MLB app quite a bit. I read baseball and Cleveland Indians news, and love watching and listening to games.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I love to read and spent a lot of time in Reeder and Safari. I love Safari’s reading mode. When I will be without an internet connection I use Instapaper to read offline. I read the Washington Post on my iPad, the sports section of my hometown Cleveland Plain Dealer, my local newspaper, The Oregonian, and Twitter as well. I also really enjoy the National Geographic app on my iPad. The experience of the app impacts whether I will continue reading the source. While the Plain Dealer and Oregonian have horrible apps or no app at all, the website is passable. I’m thankful for how good Safari is!

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Not an app per say but the iPad in general. Because I write code I spend a lot of time on a big screen. (27″ first gen iMac 5k) I really wish I could spend more time on my iPad however. For apps I’d really like to spend more time in Photos. Its ability to edit pictures, organize them, and share them is so powerful and yet all I use it for is as a massive dumping ground for family photos.

What is the app you are still missing?

Programming stuff, although I don’t know how reasonable it is to write code on the small screen. For that, I’d need Xcode for iOS, Terminal, Github, and database clients, plus some way to run Ruby on Rails. Then it would still be writing code on a small screen. It’d be pretty cool to “dock” my iPad, though, to a 27″ screen and get the benefits of both. This dream dates back to the late-90s/early-2000s when I got my first Windows 2000 tablet.

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

I use it off and on all day on my iPad, especially when traveling or away from my desk. I generally don’t write code away from desk so only carry the iPad when traveling. While there are some inconveniences, for the most part I can do everything I want on it. I use it to read during breakfast and lunch, if I’m home, and read a lot in the evenings especially after the kids go to bed. It sits on my desk next to me during the day and use it as a second screen for all kinds of work stuff. And my Pencil is never far away.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I’d have to say the Pencil, although I utilize split screen a lot as well to work on two things simultaneously.

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

From a product perspective I’d focus more attention on making iPad a functional machine for all day work. I’d love to work on that problem myself!

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

Yes! I use a minimalist Utility watch face. I like my watches fairly sparse but wish there was one more slot for a complement. I use my technology for four things: work (productivity), reading, communication, and exercise. My iMac and iPad is my primary tool for work and reading, my iPhone for communication, and my watch for exercise.

The weather and exercise app are immediately available, the time and schedule ensure I have the time to get out and about. If I had one more complement I’d use it for my exercise rings. As of this writing I’ve completed my circles for over two months straight.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

My iPad’s wallpaper is a picture I took facing southwest from the rim of Crater Lake here in Oregon at sunset. My lock screen is a picture of my daughters.

Anything else you’d like to share?

My general philosophy is to have all my apps about one folder away and never use a second screen. Ideally, the items on my dock act as an entry point into other data and/or apps I use in a smaller split screen regularly. And I hate seeing a full home page so always leave a few “app slots” open. Often times I use these for slots for apps I want to try.

Oh… and if I had to pick either an iPhone or iPad, I’d pick iPad. I love this thing!