Allow me to introduce Ally Rilling. She is 19 years old and a freshman majoring in computer science and finance at University of Wisconsin–Madison. Ally used to rely on running Shortcuts from the widget screen but after listening to some MPU podcasts and watching some You Tube videos (e.g., Shortcuts-Based Home Screen and Shortcuts Home Screen, Evolved), she learned how convenient it is to to have them on the Home Screen. She shared with me how happy she was with the new functionality this has, so I asked her to show us her Home Screens.
What are some of your favorite apps?
Tempo is a great running companion app. I initially got the recommendation from Zac Hall on his Watch Time podcast, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. In high school, I did volleyball, basketball, and high jump on the track team, but was never really a fan of distance running. However, last summer I became interested in finding a form of exercise I could sustain in college and subsequently found—or more accurately, fell in love with—running. Tempo helps me track durations, distances, and intensities of runs so I can make sure I don’t overdo it. The dashboard view is perfect for analyzing how many miles I’ve done recently and how hard I’ve gone during those miles. It is a great app with a practical and beautiful design that makes going for a run even more rewarding.
What app makes you most productive?
I was surprised to find that I enjoy using OneNote for note taking at school. It works great with both text and Apple Pencil input on my iPad, and honestly, I don’t think I could do school without it. I haven’t really tried other note-taking apps, but I feel like with OneNote, I don’t even need to. The only feature request I have is that they add multi-window support for different notes. Other than that, it works great for me!
What app do you know you’re underutilizing?
I am definitely underutilizing Shortcuts. I have been using the app ever since it was released as Shortcuts for simple automations, but I am sure there is more I could be doing with it.
How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?
If it is a weekday at school, I use my phone very little (about an hour or less). My iPad is the powerhouse during the week. I can do pretty much everything for my classes (except write code) with my iPad, so that generally gets five or more hours of use.
What Today View widgets are you using and why?
The main widgets I use are Shortcuts, Dark Sky, and Sundial. I use Shortcuts because running a Shortcut from here is quicker as it doesn’t open the app. I use the other two because I enjoy weather and weather data.
What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?
That, in addition to the Apple Watch, it can track and analyze so many things. I love data, especially heath and fitness data, and the iPhone allows me to see all that data in one place. With the updates to the health app in iOS 13 and the increasing capabilities of the Apple Watch, I’m very excited to see what new kind of data I will be able to collect in the future.
If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?
I wish Apple had more options for customization in iOS. I understand that Apple doesn’t want people walking around with ugly iPhones, but I would love some more settings and options within stock apps and on the lock and home screens. It would be cool to have widgets on the lock screen/home screen, change what is in the status bar, and just generally be able to control how information is displayed to us.
Do you have an Apple Watch? Show us your watch face tell us about it.
Yes, I have an Apple Watch Series 5 and I wear it all the time! The workout app is great for running, getting notifications on my wrist is super convenient, and I love having a bunch of weather and health data always visible on my wrist.
Currently, I switch between three watch faces. First, my weather face combines the stock, Dark Sky, and Sundial complications for a relatively comprehensive weather picture. Next, my workout face is basically just a launcher for the workout app and allows me to quickly glance at my rings and heart rate. Lastly, my heath face features complications from AutoSleep, HabitMinder (for water and steps), and some stock complications.
I usually begin my day with the weather face, switch to the workout face when it’s time to workout, and then finish off the day with the health face. Like many watch owners, I would like more customization/third-party faces, but am generally happy with what the watch offers today.
What’s your wallpaper and why?
My Home Screen wallpaper is black because I like to take advantage of the OLED screen and so that, using black icons, I can place apps where I want. I drew/traced a bunch of icons with black backgrounds for my shortcuts, so they seem like they are floating.