Home Screens: Andrew Hall

This week’s Home Screen features Andrew Hall. I’ve got to know Andy in the MacSparky Labs. He’s an engineer and an app developer (Lifeorities and Starship SE Corps). Andy is also a really nice guy. Show us your home screens, Andy.

What are some of your favorite apps?

I love the FotMob app. I use it to follow all my soccer action. I also love and daily use the App Store Connect app and, recently, the Disneyland app. Overcast is also a daily favorite.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

tv app

What app makes you most productive?

Since my daily work is on a Windows PC, my productivity using my iPhone and other Apple devices is for personal and hobby productivity. I would say, for me, I use the Photos , Calendar, Reminders, Safari, Mail, Notes, and Messages apps. However, if I had to pick one, I would say Reminders because it is my daily task go-to app.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Many. For work I use OneNote a ton. I definitely underutilize that for my personal use. Instead, I use the Notes app a lot, and it is great for my personal project notes. 

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

iPhone: many times an hour.
iPad: usually once a day — at night for YouTube and tv.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I have a ton of Today View widgets, mostly news-type widgets. However, I rarely swipe over to the Today View. Instead, I’ve got a lot of what I need on Home Screen widgets, particularly using Widgetsmith. My main Home Screen features the Siri Suggestions widget at the top.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Lately, the Dynamic Island.

In general, so many apps and content available on a great platform. That is why I enjoy my hobby of app development! I love how these devices can be so personal and become a great creative and information tool.

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

I would improve/fix Siri.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I have different iPhone wallpapers by Focus mode. Most of my Focus modes use the Photos wallpaper, and I have it randomly cycle through my favorite photos. 

Thanks, Andrew!

Home Screens: Daniel Schwartzberg

This is Daniel Schwartzberg. He is a teacher, he host of the podcast Creative Consumption, and he’s a swell guy. So, Daniel, show us your Home Screens.

Primary Home Screens Walkthrough

Right off the bat, when making this post, I realized that the way I’ve used my Home Screen has substantially changed over the past couple of years. I used to fill my Home Screens with folders and icons and utilize it as a launchpad for all my apps. Now, I search for and launch most apps with Spotlight on my iPhone and iPad, and because of that, I’ve set up my Home Screens to give glanceable information, offer quick access to essential apps, and to help nudge me into a certain mode.

Relatedly, Focus Modes have become a major part of my Home Screen philosophy this past year year, especially since Apple started allowing users to tie specific Home Screens to specific Focuses (Foci?) in iOS and iPadOS. Using that feature, I’ve been able to construct an individual Home Screen for each of the major parts of my life, and the three most common: Personal, Reading, and School.

I also like using color as a general reminder of context, and it’s part of how I set up my Calendar app and something I think about when assigning colors to tasks, lists, and backgrounds. That’s partly why I’ve dedicated the top left portion of my iPhone and iPad Home Screens to a color-coded Widgetsmith text widget with the name of whatever Focus Mode/context I’m in.

Even though that widget arguably isn’t as “functional” as an app icon or other more interactive widget type, the benefit I derive from having that textual reminder really drives home the reason that I’m using the device and how I’d like my intention directed at that time. I try to accomplish a similar effect by setting the color of my Apple Watch face to as close a match as I can get with Apple’s standard color watch faces.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

This is a tough one for me, and may sound odd, but even though I love using it, Overcast is the app that best fits this category for me. I love podcasts, especially because, like probably a lot of people, I view them as a medium that I can engage with to stay informed about topics that interest me while still being having my hands free to be productive in other ways (cooking, folding clothes, grocery shopping, those kinds of things). But within the past year or so, I’ve realized that I spend so much time listening to other people on podcasts (I’m actually afraid to look at Screen Time stats) that I’ve stopped taking as much time to reflect on my own thoughts and make my own things.

So I’m trying to cut down on podcast listening, and one of the big ways I’ve done that is by removing Overcast from my dock, where it used to have a prime position. I can still search for the app in Spotlight, and still have a rotation of podcasts I follow, but that move out of the dock has been a big help, and I’ve also been establishing other time boundaries (e.g., no listening on weekday mornings before I go teach) and building other habits to replace and complement podcasts (music, reading, audiobooks).

This one’s a toss-up. I depend on a bunch of apps that I call “infrastructure apps” (Hazel and Keyboard Maestro come to mind immediately), but in terms of iOS/iPadOS specifically, the two apps that help me the most in literally “producing” work are Just Press Record (JPR) and Ferrite

What app makes you most productive?

JPR started out as an occasionally helpful tool in college, when I wanted to record some thoughts and easily transcribe them later, but it’s become essential in the past two years for my work as a teacher. At the school where I teach, the faculty write reports for all the students they teach, and when it comes to drafting those reports, I find it easier to dictate a first draft rather than write it.

I tend to overcorrect if I type it first. That’s where JPR, and its Apple Watch app, comes in. I have a fairly long commute to and from my school, and so when it gets to about a month before our reports are due, I’ll use that time to spew a bunch of thoughts into a voice file on my watch in Just Press Record. Then I transcribe those files on my iPhone and transfer them to my computer, where I can clean up whatever flubs the transcription made and use those text files as the basis for each report. On top of that, I also love to use the app to dictate any kind of message that I need to send, and to draft posts of episode show notes.

Since Ferrite‘s a stalwart in the audio-editing arena, and a bunch of great tech writers like Jason Snell have put out content explaining all the cool things it can do, I won’t give a long overview here. All I’ll say is that I’ve used it as my DAW almost every day for the past four years and it’s a tool I couldn’t operate without. A few things that engender my devotion:

  • The app allows keyboard shortcuts to be customized (and more apps should do this!).
  • The automation control works exactly in a way that makes sense to me how I’d like.
  • Strip silence! Killer to have on the go.

There’s a lot more, and the recent release of Ferrite Pro 3 provides some awesome things, too. I have found (maybe because of the recent major update) that the app’s been slightly more buggy for me than I’m used to, but hopefully those things get ironed out, because when it works, it works beautifully.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Since I’ve already talked about my must-have productivity apps, I’ve left those off here, but these are a few that I just love using, and which often fill specific but frequent needs. Also, this list could be much, much longer.

Genius Scan – This app is a must-have for me. The school where I teach doesn’t use a comprehensive learning management system (LMS) for students to submit work online, and paper is the primary medium for student materials, which can be a great thing in a lot of ways, but hard organizationally. Almost all my assignments and assessments are hard copies, or students write them in their own notebooks. Enter Genius Scan. After a couple of months of figuring out how to get all the bits and bobs set up correctly, I was able to use Genius Scan’s Auto Export feature combined with its Naming Templates to kind of cobble together my own personal LMS.

When a student hands me a paper, or I go around to collect assignments, I take out my phone, start up a new scan (which is extremely easy because of the context-menu action accessible via long press from my “School” Home Screen), and then tag the document in a way that tells Genius Scan to export it to an iCloud folder. Then, on my iMac, Hazel watches that folder and automatically sorts each assignment into a folder corresponding with the class section and date. It’s fantastic – highly recommend.

Camo – Even with Apple’s inclusion of Continuity Camera in iOS 16 and Ventura, I’ve been using Reincubate’s Camo for years to hook up an old iPhone as a webcam, especially when tutoring and having Zoom meetings. The app’s always been reliable, fast, has a bunch of in-the-weeds customization features, and I just don’t feel like changing my setup since it’s so great.

Text Case – Awesome utility for text transformations. I’ve set up a couple of custom flows, and it’s especially useful when copying Latin text from a picture I’ve taken of a textbook or commentary so I can include it in a tutoring document. Very specific-use case, I know, but even with general transformations, it’s great, and it’s available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It also has solid Shortcuts support!

Libby and hoopla – Libraries are awesome! Books are great! And these two apps let me browse, download, and read/listen to a huge variety of books either in the app itself or via the Kindle app. Nothing better.

Schooly – I think I first read about this app on 9to5Mac, but Schooly is a nifty, easy-to-use app for helping me with class schedules. I’ve also tried the assignments feature, and even though it hasn’t yet stuck with me, it’s a nice inclusion to have and I may try to use it more in the future. Where Schooly’s most handy for me is its Home Screen and lock screen widgets the developer has added – I can see both my upcoming class, as well as where they’re located. Also, the developer has been very responsive whenever I’ve reached out with questions, which I something I always appreciate.

What Widgets are you using and why?

Timemator – This is a timetracking app I’ve used in the past and (am trying to) use more often lately, and the developers have included a selection of widgets in one of their more recent updates. The one I use is the “Timer Widget,” which launches the app and optionally toggles a current timer for a task. It’s more of an aspirational choice than one I depend on, but I’m trying to be more diligent about tracking my time to see exactly how it’s being spent, and it’s a good reminder to have the widget there on my iPhone/iPad screens. I also have it as the top left complication on every Apple Watch face.

Widgetsmith – I don’t utilize it for anywhere near all the cool things David Smith has included, but I do love the simple text widget that I’m using (related to the “Focus Modes” section above.)

Clock – It’s weird, I know, but I just like having a clock app on my Home Screens.

BusyCal – I’ve been using BusyCal as my calendar app for a few years, and really appreciate how the developer keeps improving it across all platforms. They’ve added multiple widgets on iOS and iPadOS, and I have two different ones included in stacks on my “School” and “Personal” Home Screens – the “Events List” and “This Week” widgets. 

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Top of the list here is Shortcuts, and as an extension of that, Toolbox Pro. I’ve dabbled in making shortcuts for time tracking using Timemator, quick transaction logging, and adding new assignments to Schooly. I’ve also created a few longer “set-up” automations on the Mac that include Shortcut actions, like adding reminders and activating Do Not Disturb (DND). Overall, though, I have far more ideas of Shortcuts I want to make than actual Shortcuts themselves.

I’m intrigued by the idea of creating launcher shortcuts on my Home Screen, something I’ve heard David, Rosemary, and a host of others people speak about in podcasts and on their sites. I can imagine it would be great to have just one icon that would allow me to perform multiple actions or start multiple processes, and I can personally think of several use cases in that vein. But I have a hard time shaking the feeling that the initial time investment to set those things up would be substantial, even though I realize that a.) it wouldn’t take nearly as long as I think, and b.) I would probably get the time back in the long run.

Anyway, hope springs eternal that the day will magically become 32 hours long (or more realistically, that I’ll finally convince myself that those kinds of Shortcuts won’t take as long to make as I think they will), and I’ve started keeping a list of automations that I want to set up, so that I’ll have some starting points.

What is the app you are still missing?

I’m still figuring out which app or apps to use for project management. Reminders was my go-to task app for ages, and still is for the most part. But things have recently gotten much busier in terms of the scope and amount of things I’ve been doing, which is due to a combination of house projects that I’m trying to get sorted and an increase in my work as a podcast editor and Latin tutor outside of school. Reminders and BusyCal used to be completely sufficient for me for planning my time, but in the past year, I’ve wanted a better bird’s-eye view of each ongoing project I have, and those tools haven’t quite provided the oomph I need.

I’m currently trying the app Firetask, and there are elements of it that I like, but I’ve never worked with a Getting Things Done (GTD) system before, so that’s also been a learning curve, as well. I’ve been listening to the audiobook to see if that helps give me a better idea of how to use the app and augment my overall organization system. My gut feeling is that an app as extensive as OmniFocus would be more than I need, but I’m tempted to give it a try.

Also, if anyone has recommendations for a budgeting app (ideally with Shortcuts support), I’m all ears!

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

With the important caveat that I am in no way a software developer, and that I am positive making any sort of changes to fundamental parts of iOS must take a huge amount of effort, time, and consideration, I still have to ask: why is rearranging anything on the Home Screen still such a terrible experience?? It’s great that Craig let everyone know “jiggle mode” is apparently official Apple terminology, but if there’s one improvement I genuinely believe could make everyone cheer during WWDC23, it would be an announcement that they’re improving the UI experience of setting up and changing Home Screens.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Everything that jumps to mind all relates to the Continuity features Apple’s implemented over the years (Universal Clipboard & Control are both real timesavers).

Thanks, Daniel.

Home Screens: Brett Burney

This week’s home screen features my friend Brett Burney (website)(Apps in Law site)(podcast). Brett is a lawyer that helps other lawyers master their technology stack. He’s a great friend and a swell guy. So Brett, show us your Home Screen.

What’s your Lock Screen / Wallpaper and why?

Love changing out my wallpapers every 2-3 weeks and really enjoying the customization options that came with iOS 16. Current lock screen/wallpaper is a picture my daughter took while we were on vacation in New Orleans.

Main screen walk-thru / Today View widgets

I keep asking myself if I should move things around, but this main screen arrangement has stood the test of time for several years. Most apps are non-foldered for quick access, but I’ve got two folders at top: One has all my store/food apps with a toilet to remind me that’s my money going down the drain; the second folder has all my social media apps so it’s a “lying face” emoji. 

I keep the Calendar widget in upper left so I can see the full month. Bottom left is a Widget Stack that primarily shows the weather, but I can rotate through Fitness and Photos (I find having more than 3 widgets in the stack take me too long to rotate through). But I also have “Smart Rotate” turned on so it’ll show me what I need throughout the day.

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

How much is too much? That’s like asking how many times a day I take a breath – I don’t even think about it. The “phone” is the new personal computer and it’s become an extension of my brain, daily workflows, and personal/professional communication.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Notes, Microsoft To Do, and OneNote are critical for capturing thoughts & tasks throughout day. Spotify and Reeder get fired up every day. Overcast regularly. 1Password is my digital safe. My iPhone’s second screen has Apple Fitness, Scanner Pro, and all my hotel, airline, and travel apps along with banking and credit card apps. 

On my iPad, PDF Expert and Documents (both from Readdle) are always used to access and organize my files. I use the Files app a lot as well. Notability on my iPad is for taking notes. Also enjoy using iThoughts to brainstorm.

What app makes you most productive?

If I had to pick one it would be Microsoft To Do, but I use Notes and OneNote quite a bit as well. To Do gives me the freedom to forget what I have to remember. And I regularly use the iOS timer to keep me on track and avoid the “SQUIRREL!” syndrome. Dropbox gives me confidence I can find files when I need them.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Oh, so many. I’d probably pick Freeform right now from Apple, but I’m also woefully underutilizing Shortcuts which is why I need to dig into my friend David’s Shortcuts Field Guide!

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Not a spicy pick, but I would say Reeder for all the blogs and sites I follow. It’s my “guilty pleasure” because I look forward to reading through all my hobbies including coffee, styles, bourbon, travel hacks, tech tips, deals & sales, hiking, etc.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Probably these days all the Fitness integration between the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and AirPods Pro. I’m no fitness guru, but I can quickly filter to a workout on my iPhone or iPad, shut out the world on my AirPods Pro, and have the workout tracked on my Apple Watch … which also now funnels into my Health app. It’s a pretty amazing ecosystem that delivers a consistent experience.

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

Got an Apple Watch Ultra at the end of 2022 and I completely enjoy it, but need to work on customizing the watch face. Currently using the Ultra-specific “Wayfinder” face because it lets me put on the most complications (although I keep wanting to put MORE complications on there).

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

Give me more capabilities to customize my Apple Watch face! I want to take maximum advantage of the larger face in the Apple Watch Ultra.

Home Screens – Kathy Campbell

Kathy Campbell is the Internet’s very own Unicorn Sidekick, helping small businesses succeed in the confusing landscape of technology. So, Kathy, show us your home screens.

What is your wallpaper and why?

My lock screen is a photo I took of my amazing child, we did a photo shoot when I got a new camera to test out and this is one of my absolute favorites. I love the widgets on the lock screen, using the calendar and Timery (making sure the right timer is running) and also a reminder to get my steps in.

My wallpaper is the beautiful logo from my podcast Conduit over on Relay FM. It’s a show about productivity with my friend Jay Miller, but it’s productivity in real life. It also has a strong accountability community with our Conductors. I love our logo (and doing the show) so much!

What Widgets are you using and why?

I use my widgets so often! It is mainly my media launcher, but also a quick access portal for my battery check and Adding a Task. I use both Apple Music (for specific artists/albums) and Spotify (for playlists other people have made). It has my audiobook launcher (Libby is amazing for reading and listening to books) and also lets me launch Endel, which I use mainly for my evening routine and sleeping, but sometimes will also run it when I want something to listen to but don’t want to pick anything.

Main Home Screen Walkthrough:

Dock: I love the look of 3 icons. Phone is there because when I need to call someone, I need to call NOW. Overcast is my podcast app of choice. Instagram is my dose of joy in my day, checking up on what my friends are doing and getting inspiration when I need a micro break.

1st Page: Stack with Calendar and CARROT Weather with smart rotate on.

2nd Page: 

🌮🕹️ – food/delivery apps, plus entertainment apps

💥 – Apps that aren’t for business and get enough notifications/desire to utilize that I want them on the homepage.

🦄 – mostly messaging apps but also business-related items live here.

Safari – pretty obvious …

Small Stack – Fitness, Photos, Todoist Quick Add (also using smart rotate)

Other than these, I use Spotlight to get what I need.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

My Screen Time says I spend about 3 hours a day total. That usually ends up being when I’m out of the house and getting notifications, taking a walk with one of our dogs, or sitting on the couch during my separation between work and home life.

What app makes you most productive?

So many apps help keep me on task in the easiest way possible.

Timery: Time tracking is vital to my work, especially for the clients that are hourly. If I can’t produce a report of my monthly hours in my invoices, I can’t get paid! Timery makes it SO easy and useful and beautiful!

Calendar: Every day is run by my calendar. I tried using Fantastical for almost a year but the unreliability of the widgets showing me what was coming up meant I finally went back to just the native Calendar app. 

Messaging apps: Every part of my life requires messaging. I know most productivity gurus will tell you to leave things alone and reply at set times. My brain and my days don’t let that work. I try to take action almost immediately on things that come from my messaging apps. This bounces around between Messages, Slack, Discord, and Facebook Messenger. I very rarely do any truly deep work that requires shutting everything out and, actually, my ADHD brain is always context switching anyways so I might as well be productive with it!

For someone with a productivity podcast, you’ll notice I didn’t mention my task manager. I use Todoist, but mainly as a list of things I’d like to do in the future. Anything that has a due date gets added to my calendar to dedicate time to do it. Every morning, after I journal, I will do a light brain dump and transfer tasks into my Bullet Journal. By writing it down on paper, I am able to purposefully choose what I’m concentrating on during the day, especially since my tasks and projects are so variable with the work I do. I am constantly working with my clients and contractors and communicating changing priorities. This way works for my brain and makes it so I don’t forget or lose something (or have a million tasks that are overdue and make me completely shut down).

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

It’s not an app so much as Focus modes. I only have a Sleep Focus that shuts everything down except for the ability to allow my favorites to call. I am not sure the best way to use it yet, since I don’t use my phone a ton anyways, but it’s on my mind.

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

I finally upgraded my S5 watch this past year when the battery health dropped to 70% … it was time! I love having my watch (and not only because I can find my phone if I’ve put it down somewhere), but the notifications feature is critical. It allows me to quickly check if it’s something I need to do right now or attack it in the future when I’m actively doing something different.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I try to make sure everything I use on my phone is there for a reason. Even if I’m intentionally using my phone to decompress or dink around, it’s because I’ve given myself permission to do that.

I love doing these kinds of interviews because it allows me to think about what has changed since I last did one and I can do some changes/clean up!

Thanks, Kathy!

Home Screens – Author Chris Bailey

This week I’m featuring the home screen of my friend Chris Bailey. Chris is a best-selling author with books like The Productivity Project and Hyperfocus. Just this week Chris released his latest book, How To Calm Your Mind and it is his best yet. You may not know it, but Chris is also a Mac geek of the first order. So Chris, show us your home screen.

Chris's Home Screens
Chris’s Work and Personal Home Screens

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I’ve gone all-in on Focus modes. I just have four of them: Personal, Work, Sleep, and Do Not Disturb. But I’m always in one of these modes, regardless of what I’m doing. My philosophy is that technology exists to support what we intend to accomplish, and I find Focus modes a nice expression of this idea. I hope Apple keeps investing in the feature over time. 

Another one of my favorite features with Focus modes is the ability to trigger automations by switching to them. I just have one of these: enabling grayscale mode on my iPhone when I switch to Work focus. This way the device is far less distracting—in grayscale mode I hardly want to use it at all!

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

This one’s easy: Uber Eats. It’s food! On demand! Whenever you want it! What’s better than that?

(Please send help. And Uber Eats gift cards..)

What is the app you are still missing?

TextEdit for iOS. I’ve been waiting for this text editor since it was first rumored, and have only grown to want it more over time.

Which apps makes you most productive? 

My favorite apps for productivity are simple ones that let me get in and out quickly, that also have a lot of power when I need it. 

  • Fantastical: My calendar of choice. The natural language event entry feature saves me an inordinate amount of time every week entering events across multiple calendars.
  • Timeular: My time-tracker of choice. I use this because of how physical it is: the product is an octahedron that you can flip to whatever activity you’re working on. The app then automatically tracks how long you spend on the activity that’s face up. I use this mostly on the Mac, but also use the iPhone app when not working out of the office. 
  • Simplenote: I use digital notetaking apps primarily to capture and then build on my thoughts. Simplenote is the best app I’ve found for this—and it’s incredibly simple, lightweight, and beautiful. The cross-platform syncing has also never let me down, unlike with every single other notes app I’ve tried. 
  • Things: My task manager of choice. (Though these days I’m managing my to-dos in a plain text file in Simplenote with a lot of success. If you can’t tell, I’m a plain text fanatic: it’s just me and my ideas.)
  • Insight Timer: My meditation app of choice. I like to work a bunch of meditation breaks into my day to keep my focus sharp. 

What’s your favorite app on iOS?

My favorite app on iOS is probably Locket. Locket is a homescreen widget that just displays a picture from someone you partner up with in the app (I use the app with my wife). Every day or so, we take a new photo that shows up on the other person’s homescreen widget (I have the widget on every homescreen page so I see it regardless of which focus mode I’m in).

I’m also a big fan of less techy apps that save me time in the analog world, like Instacart, Uber, and Find My. 

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Shortcuts for Mac. I know I can use this app more, but I’m so familiar with Keyboard Maestro on the Mac that I haven’t pulled the trigger on switching over. (Plus, until recently, the Mac version of Shortcuts has been super buggy.) I should probably get reacquainted with David’s fantastic Shortcuts Field Guides for some inspiration. 

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

I love this question (edit from future Chris: and loved how therapeutic it was to answer)! Here are a few ideas that come to mind:

  • I’d completely overhaul Apple Music. I find Apple Music an organizational mess, the app often still feels like a web wrapper, and my recommendations are all skewed because I listen to so much instrumental music as I work. I also find it very difficult to discover new music. The app needs a rethink. The only thing keeping me on Apple Music is my play counts, which I don’t want to lose by switching to Spotify. I know I’d discover more music I love if I switched to Spotify.
  • Siri on the HomePod. Our HomePod minis now answer around 70% of our queries correctly—and I promise that this is not an under or overestimation. Things seem to have gotten worse when we went from two HomePod minis to five.
  • I’d also change the company’s communication strategy on current products. I totally get why the company doesn’t want to talk about future products. But a lot of my frustrations with the company come from that when something is wrong, the company doesn’t acknowledge it. It’d be nice to hear something—anything!—even if it’s just couched legalese—about real problems that their customers have faced, like Siri frustrations, butterfly keyboard complaints, original HomePods that would randomly brick, and so on.

All that said, luckily the delights of being in Apple’s ecosystem far outweigh annoyances like these!

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

Here’s the face for my Personal focus mode on the watch! I’m a fan of the Metropolitan face (at least right now). The corner widgets, clockwise, are The Weather Network (which has the best Canadian weather data), Workouts, Activity, and Zero (an intermittent fasting app). It’s green because that’s the color of my watch band right now.

Thanks Chris, and congratulations on the new book.

Home Screens – Ian Byrd

Ian Byrd (Website) is a friend, an educator of educators, and a charming human overall. He’s also incredibly thoughtful in the way he handles his technology. So I asked him to share his home screen with us. So Ian, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

I’ve been off-and-on studying Japanese since college but never thought I’d be able to tackle the writing system. For the past couple of years, I’ve been using the service WaniKani and it has really worked! It’s basically fancy flashcards with hilarious mnemonics. I use the third-party app Tsurukame on my phone. It adds some very nice features. Highly recommended for folks who want to learn kanji. 

The Eufy app is great for checking in on our 4-year-old when he’s in his room but suddenly goes quiet. We were using a Ring camera, but the Eufy camera feed loads much faster since everything is stored locally.

AutoSleep is a great sleep-tracking tool that works with the Apple Watch. 

Libby is wonderful for finding and playing audiobooks from the library. I also use it to send ebooks to my Kindle. 

And I have a tiny shortcut that locates my wife so I don’t have to constantly text her for updates.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Here on the Oregon coast, we don’t have any of the big food delivery services, so we use a local version called Slurpalicious! I always feel guilty having food delivered – but the app’s name makes it even worse. 😆

What app makes you most productive? 

I work with school districts, which means I get paid with paper checks. I signed and deposited them all by hand for a while, but that became untenable as my business grew. So I use a mail service called Earth Class Mail. All of the checks go there, and they scan and deposit them for me. Their app makes it easy to keep track of it all. 

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

I use Todoist for, well, to-dos. I’ve tried taking advantage of all of the features in the past, but can never keep up with all of that. So nowadays, I use it to surface must-do, time-sensitive tasks. 

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I have a shortcut to Notes so I can easily update a shared note that my wife and I use to track funny things our kid says. We are also awaiting new insulation in our attic, and things are very cold upstairs. So I’ve got a Wyze smart plug hooked up to a space heater in my office. There’s a widget that lets me quickly access that plug.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

As a parent, I’ll say that it’s the many ways that the iPhone lets us easily document and share our kid’s life. There’s no way we would have saved all of these quotes otherwise. And it’s fantastic to revisit all of the videos we’ve shot and remember what he sounded like. I also love that the photo widget surfaces old vacations or Christmas over the years. 

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

So, half of my Home Screen is that Photos widget, which I mostly love, but I’m often annoyed by the videos that appear in there. I click it, thinking it’s a photo, but then it turns into a slideshow with music and I can’t figure out how to just get to the photo. Give me a photos-only setting, Apple! I’d also like more control over which photos go in there – just my favorites or just certain people, for example. I’d also like to be able to manually advance the widget if I’m ready for something new. So, yes, as CEO my priority would be the Photos widget. 😆

Do you have an Apple Watch?

I do! I mostly use my Watch for tracking my activity and sleep. I changed my diet up recently, and it was amazing to see how that impacted my heart rate and sleep quality. It’s so nice to have that data on hand. But I probably interact with the Watch the most as a remote control for podcasts in Overcast while I’m walking around town.

Thanks Ian!

Jeff Richardson’s Home Screen

It’s been a while but Jeff Richardson is back to share his Home Screens. Jeff’s an attorney who not only writes the technology blog iPhone J.D., but also cohosts the podcast In The News. So, Jeff, show us your Home Screens.

How Are Are You Using Widgets on Your Home Screens?

The Home Screen on my iPhone changed substantially in the fall of 2020 when Apple added the ability to use widgets. A year later, Apple brought this feature to the iPad, where it had an even larger impact for me because my iPad Home Screen is now all widgets. I love having the information that I am likely to want displayed directly on my Home Screen. That way, I can see the important information at a glance without having to open up an app to see the information that I want.

The dock on my 12.9” iPad Pro can display 17 app icons that I select, plus three app icons for the three apps that I used most recently other than one of those 17. Most of the time, the app that I want to launch is one of those 20 apps, so there is no reason to devote any of the real estate on my first iPad Home Screen to app icons. Instead, the Home Screen of my iPad acts like a dynamic white board containing lots of key information.

My first column starts with a Fantastical widget so that I can see the next few items on my calendar.  Next, I have two widgets created by the fantastic CARROT Weather app, one that shows a radar and one with the weather forecast for the day and week. Finally, I have two Notes shortcuts that bring me specifically to two notes that I use all the time. For example, one of them contains the file numbers for each of the cases that I am working on in my practice, which is something that I refer to frequently for various reasons.

The top of my middle column features perhaps my favorite widget: the time. I created it using Widgetsmith, matching the widget to my background color so that it appears as if the time is just sitting on my Home Screen. I love being able to glance for just a fraction of a second at my Home Screen to see the time without having to squint to see the time at the top left of the screen. The next widget comes from PDF Expert, giving me a shortcut to go back to one of the last four documents that I viewed in PDF Expert. The final widget in this column is associated with Things, my task manager app. Thanks to this widget, I can glance at my Home Screen and see my most time-sensitive tasks without having to open up the Things app.

The top of my third column is the Photos “For You” widget. I have around 50,000 photos in my library, and I love how this widget changes frequently to show me a photo to bring back a memory. It is so much better than displaying a single, unchanging photograph in a frame on my desk! After that I have the “Today” widget from the Apple News app, and I love being able to see the top news headlines throughout the day.

On my iPhone, I only devote two 2×2 spaces to widgets because I also like having space for my most-used apps. On the top left, I have a stack of Fantastical and Things. I like how you can stack multiple widgets and see different widgets at different times of the day. On my iPad, I have enough space to give every widget I want its own location. But on the iPhone, stacking is useful. On the top right, I have a stack that includes the Photo widget and a CARROT Weather widget.

What Are Some of Your Favorite Apps?

I could probably rave for many paragraphs about each of the 20 apps on my iPad dock, but I’ll mention two. First, I don’t think I could live without 1Password. Of course, I use it for my passwords, but I also store a large number of other important and personal information in there.

When you last asked me to show off my Home Screen in 2013, I said that the one app that I was missing was Microsoft Word on my iPad. That app came out in 2014, and I still use it every day. Indeed, I have been using Word since 1988, when it was an essential program on my Mac Plus. I don’t do a lot of original writing in Word on my iPad in Word, but I frequently review and edit Word documents on my iPad.

On my iPhone, Overcast is one of my favorite apps. I love listening to podcasts, and Overcast does a fantastic job of fetching and organizing my podcasts. Plus, it has a great interface, and the Smart Speed and Voice Boost features improve the listening experience. Sometimes I use it with AirPods Pro, sometimes I use it with CarPlay, and sometimes I even just use the iPhone’s built-in speaker. But no matter how I listen to podcasts, Overcast works well.

What App Is Your Guilty Pleasure?

I enjoy playing Good Sudoku, an app that is not only fun but also teaches you how to be a better player. I purchased it soon after it first came out, but there is now a version that is part of Apple Arcade for those who subscribe to that service. It is my “guilty” pleasure because I often find that it has sucked 30 minutes of my time that I suppose I could have devoted to doing something more productive. That’s one of the reasons that I enjoy playing Wordle in Safari every day; it is fun, but doesn’t take much time.

What App Makes You the Most Productive

It’s a tie between two apps. I work with a lot of documents in my law practice, which tend to be in PDF format, and Readdle’s PDF Expert is my app of choice for reading and annotating those documents. I also take a lot of handwritten notes as I am doing legal research, preparing for an oral argument, meeting with a witness, attending a meeting, etc., and the GoodNotes app works incredibly well with an Apple Pencil.

What App Do You Know You’re Underutilizing?

Things. My wife uses that app extensively, and she has lots of different types of lists, tasks associated with dates, etc. But I just have a single list of to-do items, with no dates attached to them. I like that I can drag a task closer to the top if it is more important. 

What Is Your Favorite Feature of the Iphone?

I love that my iPhone can keep track of virtually all of the information that is important to me so that I don’t have to waste time trying to remember things. Almost every name, number, date, etc. that I need is likely in there somewhere. That way I can devote my brain power to other things, like coming up with creative solutions for clients in my law practice or just enjoying life when I’m not working. 

Indeed, one of the single most useful features of my iPhone and Apple Watch is that I can tell it to remind me of something at a specific time or when I’m in a specific place. That way, I don’t have to fret about trying to remember something, and when I actually need to be reminded of it, the Reminders app lives up to its name.

If You Were in Charge at Apple, What Would You Add or Change?

I wish that the iPad would more quickly add more advanced features so that it could replace a laptop even more. I recognize the difficulty of adding power while maintaining ease of use, but today’s iPad is much more sophisticated than the original iPad of 2010 while still being easy to use, so it is definitely possible to do both. I just wish Apple would do it more quickly.

Thanks, Jeff. 

Home Screens — Joe Moyer

Joe Moyer is writing some great stuff over at his blog, 24 Letters. That name comes from an Athenodorus quote, “Whenever you feel yourself getting angry, Caesar, don’t say or do anything until you’ve repeated the 24 letters of the alphabet to yourself.” Of course Joe and I get along great! So, Joe, show us your home screens.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Craft has become my favorite app. I use it every day on all of my devices, and it’s a big part of how I keep track of what’s going on.

Readwise is another favorite that I interact with a lot. I post quotes weekly on the blog and have just started an Instagram account. I like starting my morning with the highlights email because it can help inspire new ideas and positively shape the day.

CARROT Weather is a favorite too. It’s so useful and such a thoughtfully designed and customizable app. It has a prominent spot on my iPad and iPhone, and I often check it. 

I listen to a lot of podcasts, so I’m in Overcast often. I like the redesign a lot. It was an improvement without changing how I use and enjoy the app.

I use Day One to write a daily gratitude entry. I created a simple prompt and have a Shortcut set on my devices and my newly acquired Stream Deck. I also do deeper reflection in a separate journal, and I enjoy having separate spaces for the different types of writing. 

For task management, my favorite is Todoist. I’ve been a subscriber for several years. I like the Kanban board style view to track larger projects and used it at my most recent corporate job to track the performance reviews I was responsible for every year. I like the natural language processing and the ease of use. It feels lightweight yet comprehensive.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Instagram. I enjoy staying connected with friends and family and following creative people on the platform for inspiration. I recently created an account for the blog at https://www.instagram.com/24lettersnet/to experiment and see how I can be creative in a different medium.

What app makes you most productive?

Craft is where I go to be productive. I organize the blog and elements of my personal and family life and find that it’s a joy to use and helps me stay on track with projects. I do my monthly and quarterly reviews in it as well.

I created a dashboard in Craft where I manage everything and have a shortcut on the Home Screen of both my iPad and iPhone. It’s constructive to see things at a glance.

Craft is a beautiful app, too, so that helps!

My runner-up is Ulysses. I’m using that to write the blog entries, and I like how clean the interface is. I can jump right into writing without distraction.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Shortcuts! I’ve created a few simple shortcuts on my Home Screen, like opening a specific MindNode project or opening my daily gratitude journal in Day One. I like how it improves my focus and gets me to where I want to be quickly.

I’m deeply interested in focus and productivity and look forward to exploring Shortcuts more actively in the future!

What is the app you are still missing?

I still don’t have a great calendar app that I love. I’m going to explore Fantastical in the future. Right now, my “day job” is as a stay-at-home dad, so my schedule is rarely my own anyway!

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

I’m on my iPhone a lot because I use it for everything from tracking my toddler’s daycare and my infant’s feeding and nap schedule, to organizing tasks and lists, messaging, and working on projects.

I am on my iPad several times a day as well. I use it as a tool for consumption, review, and idea creation. I watch content from YouTube and the big streaming services, read books on Kindle or news on the NYTimes app, or check in on my dashboard in Craft. I also like to do my monthly and quarterly reviews on the iPad.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I keep my Today View pretty simple, with my battery status on the top left, the month view of my calendar on the top right, and below that the productivity widget from Todoist because it’s fun to see my stats. I also keep my screen time widget here to see where my attention and efforts are going.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

On iPad, split-screen went from something that I struggled to remember how to use effectively to something that I use all the time. Apple fixed that so successfully.

My favorite feature on the iPhone is Focus. I know it’s not exclusively on iOS, but that’s where I find it to be most helpful. I wrote on 24 Letters about how it helps me stay on track with my sleeping (despite a four-month-old baby’s best efforts not to sleep!).

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

I’d provide more than 5 gigabytes of iCloud storage when someone buys a new iPhone. It’s just not enough!

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

I have an Apple Watch Series 5 that I love. My complications include Messages, Activity, CARROT, and Todoist. I regularly use dictation to compose messages, and that’s even more helpful and necessary after a recent wrist injury.

I use the California face during the active part of my day and have an automation to change to the Simple face in the evenings. I got the idea from an MPU episode, and I do this to help shift the context from the busy task-filled days to a more gentle data set for evenings and overnights.

On the Simple face, I have the alarm, sunrise/sunset, CARROT, and mindfulness complications.

My Apple Watch is several generations behind now, so I’m interested in what the Series 8 will look like.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I’ve been using the Aqueux wallpapers on my iPhone and iPad for a while now. The iPad Lock Screen often has a recent family photo, but I prefer to keep the home screens simple to avoid visual distraction.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’ve taken advantage of widgets and stacks, particularly on my iPhone. Apple Music and Overcast share a small stack, and Todoist, Calendars, and Photos share another.

CARROT gets its own medium widget space just because there’s so much data that I want at a glance. As I write this, it’s 62°, and yet there’s a winter storm watch for the coming days. Massachusetts weather is a mystery!

I keep things more straightforward on my iPad. I want to be able to unlock it and jump right in, whether it’s for creating or relaxation.

Finally, I want to say how much I enjoy this community. I’ve been a Mac user for almost 20 years and have followed MPU and many Relay FM podcasts for years. The MPU forum is practically a daily visit for me, and the positivity, kindness, and support that everyone gives each other is refreshing and welcome. I’m excited to share my voice as well, both on the forum and on my blog

Thanks, Joe!

Jim Eagar’s Home Screen

This week’s Home Screens features Jim Eagar. Jim is a retired US Air Force Reserve, JAG (and Chaplain before that), as well as a retired estate planning attorney. Jim is also a first order Mac Geek with his website at OriginalMacGuy.com. So Jim, show us your Home Screens.

What are some of your favorite apps?

MindNode is foundational to every project I work on. I use it to mind map negatives, positives, and other factors when I have a big decision to make. I mind map presentations that I make to my local community Apple group before putting together my Keynote and screencasts.

Unless it’s a simple post, I mind map the content and structure of blog posts before I write them. If a blog I’m working on requires some research, I’ll often insert an article name, author, link, and quotation directly into the appropriate node in MindNode, then transfer the info to Ulysses if I decide to use it when writing. I typically write blog posts with half of my screen showing Ulysses, and half showing MindNode. The one and only simple shortcut I’ve designed arranges these two apps in that configuration.

For my roles-based productivity system, I keep a list of my roles, ideal descriptions, answers to my “tough questions” and action steps in a large mind map. I use this when I go on 6-month retreats away from home to work on my roles system.

The graphical presentation of MindNode works much better for me to organize my thoughts than using a traditional outline. I can visualize my thinking and see connections between sections, and drag and rearrange with ease. I can see where there are gaps that need additional research or thinking to fill in. MindNode saves me hours in rewriting and helps me to produce much better blog posts, screencasts, and Keynote presentations.

Drafts is another primary app for me. Almost everything starts in Drafts. It’s my initial writing app for thoughts I’m not ready to put into my formal write-edit-publish process. I also use it to quick-capture ideas I have on the go (with the app on my Apple Watch).

I maintain an updated list of ideas for blog posts. Furthermore, I keep a few items I want to have instant access to — things like Kourosh’s task words, my updated roles descriptions, and Alfred keyboard shortcuts.

I have a template in Drafts that generates my weekly review. It includes my role descriptions and ideals, a “checklist” series of questions I intend to ask myself each week, and app locations I want to check each week.

I use Alfred constantly to open apps and find files and folders. Since my original 128K Mac, I’ve been in the habit of clicking on app icons, but this past year I’ve been transitioning to mostly using Alfred.

Another feature I use multiple times a day in Alfred is the clipboard history. When I’m researching for a blog post, I can copy the names of articles, links, author’s names, and quotations without constantly having to jump back and forth between my source and the app I’m writing in.

Things is my task manager of choice. I tried OmniFocus , but found it too complicated and fiddly for my simple needs.

I use Things to keep track of all of my tasks that don’t go on a calendar, including projects. I also maintain checklists for routine activities, such as actions I take when I post to a blog. I have recurring tasks for everything that I do on a recurring basis, including household chores, medication refills, and weekly reviews.

I love the simple, beautiful look of Things. To me, aesthetics are important, and I like beauty in as many technology spaces as I can have it.

I use Feedly several times a day to read RSS feeds from blogs in the areas I keep up with. I’m aware that Reeder is the cool app, but I never cared for its layout and prefer the layout of Feedly. I find it easier to use. It still amazes me that I can let one app gather posts from blogs scattered throughout the internet, and I can sit down and read them all in one convenient location.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I use Facebook to stay in touch with some long-distance acquaintances and to keep up with many hobby area groups (backpacking the Arizona Trail, WWII strategic gaming, and WWII history) that only have Facebook pages. I also use my account to advertise my two blogs and often post reading highlights from Readwise. I limit my review of Facebook to 5-10 minute time blocks once a day.

What app makes you most productive?

For mental creative work, it’s MindNode. It’s in MindNode that my blog post ideas and other projects take form. I typically start with a single thought or topic, then expand it into related sub-topics, then flesh those out. In MindNode I create what my writing or project will look like, and the logical and research steps I need to go through to complete it in concept.

For actual production work, I’d have to say Ulysses. I do almost all of my writing in Markdown in Ulysses. I have folders to keep track of the things I’m writing, from initial draft to publishing. At a glance, I know what I’m getting ready to write, writing, editing, waiting to publish, and have published.

When I’m ready to publish a blog post, I can post it to the appropriate WordPress site directly from within Ulysses. It transfers links, inline images, and a featured image for the post. I can also update it in Ulysses, but I typically do the final review and editing in WordPress.

In addition to using the free version of Grammarly, I also use the proofreader and editing assistant built into Ulysses. I find it’s very helpful and improves my writing.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

DEVONthink. Presently, I’m using it for the storage of PDFs, photos, mind maps, and whatever other types of documents I want to keep. I extensively use the web clipping function and sometimes change document formats in it. But I know there are a ton of other things I could be using DEVONthink for. It’s an extremely feature-rich app.

I have David’s DEVONthink Field Guide which is an excellent resource but haven’t worked all the way through it yet. And half of what I did work through, I quickly forget because I don’t implement it regularly.

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

I use my iPad probably 5-15 times a day, sometimes more. I start out with my 11” iPad Pro and a cup of coffee on the sofa in the early morning for my morning routine (which is app-based). In addition, I use it many times each day to enter items into my daily food tracker, FoodNoms, look up things in Safari, check my task manager, and mark off completed tasks.

My iPad is my comfortable go-to device for reading and initial photo editing and viewing. I also use it to sketch out initial mind maps on MindNode and journal in Day One.

I don’t use my iPhone 13 Pro much when I’m home. The font size is too small for my older eyes to do much productive work with it. I use it for telephone calls, but I don’t like talking on the phone and avoid it if possible.

I use Messages and Apple Mail when I’m out and about and need to respond to something. When I go grocery shopping, I use checklists I’ve built in Apple Notes. I use Apple Maps to give me directions anytime I’m traveling somewhere that I’m not familiar with.

Ironically, I get the most use out of my iPhone when I’m on a backpacking trip with no cell service. When doing a section hike on the Arizona Trail, I use a map app called FarOut. This gives me contour maps and shows me my location on the trail (or, sometimes, off it!). I use the MapMate app to connect by Bluetooth to my Garmin InReach Mini satellite communicator to send texts and emails when cell service isn’t available. All during the day while hiking, I’m typically taking landscape photos and videos with the iPhone’s excellent camera. In the evening, I increase the font size in Kindle to read books and perhaps listen to some downloaded music.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

My favorite feature of the iPad is the ability to design custom Home Screens. I didn’t even know that was possible until Focus Mode came out this past year, and I discovered the ability to make different Home Screens for different Focus Modes.

I use custom Home Screens for three purposes: 1) My morning routine screen, which is made up of apps and widgets, 2) My reading screen, and 3) My exercise Home Screen.

I have a custom Home Screen for the morning routine I follow every day. I recently wrote a post describing my morning routine process, “A Morning Routine that Works – An App-Based Approach.”

I use a series of ten apps to complete my morning routine. This was not something I intentionally planned, but developed over time. These include widgets for CARROT Weather, Things task manager, and Fantastical calendar. I use app icons for Day One, Feedly, Readwise, Babbel and Duolingo (learning Spanish), FoodNoms, and meditation with Insight Timer. Using apps for each function makes my morning routine visual and easy to follow (just follow the trail of apps), and increases the probability that I will actually do what I intend to do.

My reading Home Screen contains the widgets for CARROT Weather, Things, Fantastical, and Amazon Kindle. I also include the app icons for Apple Books, OverDrive (library loans), and Apple Music for background music if desired.

My exercise custom home page includes the Overcast podcast widget, the Apple Fitness widget, the Stocard app (a wallet app that includes my scannable membership card for the recreation center), and the Apple Music app. My exercise focus mode activates when I arrive at the recreation center and automatically shows my exercise Home Screen, so everything I need is waiting for me.

Over time, I’ve found that my morning routine Home Screen is the screen I use all day unless I’m reading. If I want to use an app, not on the screen, I just swipe down to open the search bar and type in the name of the app I want.

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

My wife and I have had Apple Watches since they first came out. We ordered ours when they were made available, and received them in the first shipment. We’ve loved them ever since! We’ve upgraded a couple of times and now have version 7. One of the times we upgraded was when they came out with automatic fall detection. We were in our 60s, and that sounded like something we might potentially benefit from! (Remember those “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials?)

I’ve used the Infograph Modular watch face since the beginning. I’ve tried a few of the other watch faces, but always wind up returning to it. It’s not the most stylish, but it is the most functional and easy to read. From the upper left to the bottom left, I have the workout complication, the day, and date, the time, my calendar, the Drafts complication, the weather, and the timer.

The Drafts complication is of special note. When I tap on it, it opens, and I can tap on the microphone option when I’m ready to begin dictating. It syncs almost immediately to all of my devices.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

On my Lock Screen on my iPad, I use the multi-colored “Hello” wallpaper in black by BasicAppleGuy. I use it because it makes me happy to be greeted with that classic Mac look when I open my iPad! For my Home Screen, I use the dark blue swirl pattern from Apple that debuted with the iPad Air 5. It’s colorful and interesting, but doesn’t overpower the app icons.

I use the same wallpaper on my Lock Screen and Home Screen on my iPhone. It’s the Blue-Green-Grey wallpaper that comes as a wallpaper option with the iPhone 13 Pro. I use it because it has darker, subtle tones and doesn’t make it hard to pick out apps.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’ve been aware of some productivity books like Getting Things Done for about ten years, and I’ve been an Apple fan since my original 128K Mac in 1984. But it’s only been in the last six years that I’ve spent much more time learning about how to productively use apps, and the whole area of productivity.

For me, the most important material I have encountered that has built the foundation and continues to inform my productivity system is David’s roles-based approach.

If you’d like more information about my system, I’ve recently written a blog article, “How a Roles-Based Productivity System Brought Clarity and Purpose to my Life in Retirement.” I’m sure it’s not for everybody, but it’s made a huge difference in my life and my productivity system.

Thanks, Jim!

Home Screens — Eric Welander

Allow me to introduce you to Eric Welander. (@ericwelander on Twitter.) Eric loves Apple smart home tech, which you can watch here, and earns his coin by building iOS apps. So, Eric, show us your Home Screens.

What are some of your favorite apps?

I don’t know where my life would be without Drafts. I use it to quickly capture ideas I have, either on my phone or on my Apple Watch. Then I have an action to send them to Obsidian, or I copy-paste them to the proper project in Notion.

I love Reeder for staying up to date on Apple and tech news. The design is subtle and absolutely stunning. I connect Reeder with Feedbin where I have RSS feeds and email newsletters. As a YouTuber, I also use Feedbin to watch when certain channels post new videos. I find this chronological timeline easier and more passive than YouTube’s systems for not missing a video from my favorite creators. Getting to the videos over in the YouTube app is a few extra taps, but that’s not Reeder’s fault.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Instagram. I love following all kinds of interior design and luxury home builders on Instagram. It’s an extension of my love of smart home tech that I talk about on YouTube. That said, as a part-time creator, I’m terrible about sharing on Instagram as much as I probably “should”. YouTube and Twitter are more my cup of tea for that. One fancy home-related account that’s a great follow on Instagram is Mike Kelley (@mpkelley_).

What app makes you most productive?

Todoist. I’ve been using Todoist as my task manager since I moved over from Things in 2019. The biggest change that took it to another level for me was separating project and task management. Todoist is full of chores and things I have to do. Notion (previously Trello) is where I manage my projects and related tasks that move the needle. While Todoist isn’t the most beautiful task manager, the natural language processing for task entry and their web API make it too easy to keep using. And because I have this separation of chores and project related tasks, I can easily chuck one or the other (or both!?) out the window.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Matter. I recently switched from Instapaper to Matter for read-it-later content. I’m just barely scratching the surface of what Matter can do. I still need to set up highlight syncing with Obsidian, like I have with Instapaper. Beyond that, the stuff that Federico Viticci is doing with Matter over on MacStories is mind-blowing.

What is the app you are still missing?

I love using Obsidian for notes, but the iPhone version is clunky and difficult to use. I would love a much faster look into my Obsidian database and ways to add thoughts on the go. Right now, that is Drafts for me. Drafts is great, but it’s a one-way street where I’m not able to connect ideas with other Obsidian notes.

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

According to Screen Time, I pick up my iPhone around 42 times a day.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

A lot of my widgets in the Today View are pretty standard, but I want to call out David Smith’s Sleep++ Sleep Goal widget. This is a great way to know how much energy I will probably have for a day, to help know how much I can actually take on. I usually have to tap the widget and open the app to get it to update, but that’s fine with me and probably not David’s fault.

I also like using favorites in Notion and the corresponding widget for quick access to my dashboard and to show projects I’m actively working on for my content creation. As I film B-roll, I will jump into Notion on my phone to check off shots I need to get.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Apple’s cameras are so good these days and frequently praised, but their screens are quickly becoming just as amazing. The screen on my iPhone 13 Pro Max is absolutely gorgeous, and it makes content I’m looking at really pop.

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

I would tell the iPad team to make a battery-less entry-level iPad you could hang on the wall in your home. I would also assemble a software team to make a homeOS for this product with HomeKit controls. I would also want it so that members of an iCloud family could share eligible, custom iOS widgets to remain on the display. Apple would probably need to build a way developers could make certain widgets eligible for Family Sharing, but I’m sure they would pull it off in a secure system. Oh, and go ahead and ship Family Sharing for photo libraries too … please and thank you!

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

I’ve never been fully satisfied with my Apple Watch face. The California face seems to land the best compromise of data and style, I just wish there were more options for customizing the actual watch dial. I sleep with my watch on and use it as a silent alarm in the morning.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I can’t find the link, but my wallpaper is an image I found around the launch of the Apple Tower Theatre store in Los Angeles in June 2021. I cropped the photo and turned it monochrome to be a subtle backdrop. I’ve had it on my phone since then, and I really like it. My Lock Screen is usually a family photo.

Thanks, Eric!