Okay, I’ve been using Apple’s mobile OS, first on an iPod touch, then on an iPhone, for a few weeks now, and I’ve noticed that my “tinkering phase” is drawing to a close. I’ve settled in on a comfortable order of apps on my homescreens, and figured out which of the various apps I’ve tried out works best for me. So I thought it might be useful to go over what I’m using on my iPhone and why.
There’s no one “right” way to organize apps on the iPhone’s homescreens. Initially, I tried to organize them by category or type: PIM stuff on the first page, media on the second, utilities on the third and so on. But over time this became cumbersome as I’d have too many apps for one page and not enough for another. So now, I just keep things organized by frequency of use, most used apps on the first page and descending from there. But first, let’s look at the Dock, since it’s on every screen.
- Action Lists won out over a very tightly packed field of contenders in GTD task management apps that can sync to Toodledo.com. I like it because it’s quick, simple, syncs automatically and provides a zen-like no-frills implementation of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. It’s a little pricier than the other task apps for the iPhone (other than the absurdly overpriced Life Balance) but it’s worth it.
- Twittelator Pro also had to fight some very capable competition to win its spot on the Dock. In the end I picked it over Tweetie or Twitterific Pro because Twittelator Pro has more features than the easier to use Twitter clients and is easier to use than Twitter clients that match it on features. I particularly like the ability to create subgroups of tweeps a la TweetDeck on big computers.
- eReader, in my opinion, has no peers. Stanza and Kindle are nice (and may soon be the same thing), but I have hundreds of eReader titles I’ve purchased over the years on my bookshelf. I’ve been buying from eReader since they were Peanut Press in 1997, and wouldn’t have moved to the iPhone if they hadn’t had an eReader client. Even better, the iPhone version is probably the best version of eReader for any platform, including the ability to bulk download my entire bookshelf. So now I have everything I’ve ever bought from Fictionwise and eReader everywhere I go.
- Evernote was my other MUST HAVE software. I use Evernote for, well, everything, with thousands of notes in my database. I write my drafts in Evernote, I keep my photo collection in Evernote, I use the phone’s camera to “scan” documents into Evernote, where they’re automatically OCRed for searching on their contents. And I’m happy to say that the iPhone’s Evernote client is another best of breed, with even the ability to cache favorite notes on the device so you can always get to them even if you lose network signal.
Next up, my primary screen. I’m not going to cover every app on here, because, well, boring, but I’ll hit the highlights. These are the apps I use a lot or want to get to quickly, as you can hit the home button from any homescreen and jump back to screen 1.
I tend to arrange things by rows. Across the top are my messaging or notification apps, things that show counts on their app badges (like the five unread emails shown here). Byline is a great RSS reader that syncs automatically with Google Reader, including starred and shared items.
The second row are mostly web items, stuff to look for. In addition to Google, we also have location search and media search.
The third row are things I need quick access to but don’t fit any particular theme. SpeedBox is an excellent GPS-based speedometer/odometer which replaces the shorted-out instrument cluster in my car, and Ambiance is a great meditation aid that plays loops of ambient sounds with an optional timer. I like playing a binaural tone designed to shift your brainwaves into a REM-like state with a gong alarm after 20 minutes.
The last row are daily living apps, calendar, shopping list, logs for food, exercise and blood pressure. I think of this as the “take care of myself” row.
The secondary screen is filled with things I use less frequently, but still a lot. You see IMDB and movie ticket apps on the top row, games and video on the second, GPS-based search apps on the third (Have2P is a life-saver) and social media clients on the fourth.
The tertiary screen is where things start to get scattered, because while these are rarely used, when I need them I want to get to them relatively quickly. Some of these, like Palringo and CraigSearch, I haven’t even opened yet. Notables on this page are Amazon, AT&T myWireless, WordPress and MotionX GPS. Camera and Photos are here because I use Evernote for most of my picture taking and organizing.
The quaternary (yes, it’s a word, look it up) page is even more scattered, stuff I almost never use but like to have available. Here we have a bandwidth tester, copy of the US Constitution, an app to actively cancel out background noise and ebook readers. DiceShaker is pretty cool if you’re a pen&paper gamer.
And finally we have the quinary page, mostly stuff I’m trying out or stock apps I can’t hide or get rid of. I prefer using the Weather Channel app on the primary page for weather, so the stock Yahoo-based weather app gets dumped here, etc. I’ll probably move iOwn to the tertiary page at some point, as I’m just now getting into cataloguing and organizing my stuff.
So that’s it, what’s on my iPhone and why. What do you have on your iPhone? Am I missing any gems?