My iPhone Home Screen for 2015

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It’s the start of a new year and it’s time to review the apps on my iPhone home screen, an exercise I started last year. Many of the apps remain the same, while a few make it back into the home screen while a couple of others for replaced due to apps getting discontinued. Here goes a brief summary of the apps starting from the top:

  • The first 6 apps remain the same as last year which are the Apple defaults.
  • Todoist: The cross platform support including desktop apps and the convenient IFTTT channel made me pick Todoist as my preferred to do manager. This slot was occupied by the location based reminder Checkmark 2 last year, but I more or less gave up on the concept due to its relative unreliability with reminders not getting triggered in the right locations.
  • Alarmed: It retains its spot as my preferred reminder and timer management app. I had briefly switched to 2Do but that turned out to be a bit of an overkill and not as easy to use for me. Moreover Alarmed finally got an update for iOS 8 notification actions towards the middle of the year to get on with the times.
  • Messages & Whatsapp: The messaging apps remain the same and with more people in office getting iPhones Messages is getting a good workout. Whatsapp also got an update for iOS notification replies and other tweaks over the year to become more convenient to use.
  • Inbox: Dropbox dropped a bomb towards the end of the year with its discontinuation of Mailbox and I promptly made the switch to Google’s own Inbox which seems to be the way forward for Gmail and has many of my regularly used features of Mailbox like swipe based actions.
  • OneNote: This is my preferred note taking app thanks to its cross platform support and I’ve been using it even more thanks to the IFTTT integration that allows me to create stubs based on triggers from other services. E.g. I have my Office365 meetings from the calendar create stubs to record meeting notes.
  • Google Maps, Uber & Ola: The must have travel related services for me. Google Maps continues to be an excellent source to monitor traffic conditions and the locations in India are a lot more up to date than Apple Maps. You can also download maps for offline use now, but that’s going to be difficult on a 16 GB phone like mine. I’ve also done my bit by editing a few places where I found inaccuracies. For the taxi services, Uber joins Ola as my go to services and I’ve been using these 2 services almost exclusively for the last 6 months for my day to day travels instead of the local kaali peeli taxis in Mumbai ever since the strikes started in June.
  • Day One: I’ve managed to continue my journal habits though I’ve toned down the mundane stuff. Not much to add over last year.
  • Safari: It replaces Chrome as my preferred browser on the iPhone due to its support for ad blockers introduced in iOS 9 (I’ve retained the copy of the discontinued Peace). Since I use a MacBook at work, the handoff and continuity features give me the cross platform browsing support I need.
  • Streaks: I’ve been using this app to maintain some habits like hitting step targets, reading a book daily, going to bed in time, leaving office in time etc.
  • Hours: A simple time tracking app for different projects. Had a bit of a buyer’s remorse when the app got a big price cut right after I bought it and then went free within a month. It’s a bit buggy as well. Still, a useful app to have to track my time distribution at work.
  • Left to Spend: A simple app to track a daily budget manually. In my case I use it to track the office food court prepaid card balance.
  • Phone: For voice calls, duh!
  • Outlook: My preferred email client for work and the new avatar of Accompli that Microsoft acquired to create the mobile Outlook app. This retains the best of Accompli’s features like the integrated calendar view and provides better support for other services.
  • Moneybook: I continue to track my expenses manually on this app. I tried a few other options briefly including switching to the Android based Mi 4 with its automated expense trackers, but end up returning to this every time thanks to the simple interface and the ability to perform simple arithmetic operations during entries. This would be the perfect expense tracker for me if only it had a search feature.
  • Camera: Tried a few replacements, but stuck to this as the default.

A few of the home screen apps from last year like Camera+, Shazam and Wikipanion have moved on to the second screen while I removed Paper and Argus due to the limited developments. I also deliberately moved away the social network apps to the second screen to reduce the time spent on them (not very successful yet). Overall, not a big change in the type of apps though I see a few apps moving around over the next year. Also looking forward to the new entries this year.

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My iPhone Home Screen for 2014

Home Screen

2014 was the year I finally switched to an iPhone all thanks to the broken screen on my much loved Lumia 720. I got an iPhone 5s in June and my iOS app collection from my iPod Touch (2nd gen), iPad 2 & iPad mini made the switch pretty much seamless. I’m making this post inspired by a similar annual exercise by M G Siegler, and hope to study my usage over time. I do still have my Galaxy S3, but that hasn’t managed to become my primary phone in 2.5 years

So, here goes my list of apps used on the iPhone (in the order featured in the screenshot):

  • The first party Apple icons are self explanatory as expected. That said, I also use Dropbox, Google+ and OneDrive for my photo backups in addition to iCloud.
  • Checkmark 2 is mainly for my location based reminders (Apple’s solution is pretty poor in this regard), and also for general lists
  • Alarmed (a free clone of Due) is one of my favourite reminder apps due to its extensive options for setting event repeats (x days from completion being the killer feature for me). Plus it also supports creation of timers and iCloud sync (hasn’t been updated for iOS 8 though).
  • Whatsapp is my preferred mode of exchanging online messages with my friends & family.
  • Mailbox is mainly for managing Gmail (and no, I don’t have an Inbox invite).
  • Paper for browsing facebook, though I still have the main app as lots of apps use it for login.
  • Wikipanion to look up stuff on wikipedia, an app I’ve carried over from my iPad. The history feature makes it more convenient than the integrated Spotlight search or using the browser.
  • Olacabs is pretty much the Indian take on Uber, and their recent support for the Mumbai Kaali Peeli taxis has made the app more useful than ever. Plus their mini AC cab service is a just hair costlier than the Kaali Peeli and they don’t have any premium for night time rides.
  • Google Maps is pretty much the defacto map app for India, and I use it to check traffic before leaving office every day to choose the route to take home.
  • Day One is my go to app for daily journal entries, and it is one of the reasons why my online posts (blog, facebook, twitter) has actually gone down. This is a paid app, but I picked it up during Apple’s app store celebration giveaway. That said, I did purchase the Mac version for my office MacBook, albeit at a discount.
  • Chrome pips Safari to the browser slot due to its cross platform capabilities since I do use the Galaxy S3 and a Windows laptop at home where its sync functionality comes in handy.
  • Argus is a decent fitness app, but I just use to track my daily step count against a goal of 5000 steps. I had also purchased MotionX 24/7 for this purpose and did find its idle reminder handy, but it turned out to be a bit of a drain on the battery in spite of the M7. I’ve also tried quite a few other similar apps like Move, Breeze, Human etc, and each has their strong points. With the Apple Watch coming out soon, I have a suspicion that this area is going to get an overhaul.
  • Camera+ is my secondary camera app after Apple’s, mainly for those backlighting situations, and when I want to get the horizon level.
  • Shazam has taken over from Soundhound for song identification due to its better record with Hindi songs. I still have Soundhound though, and its active lyrics can be pretty handy.
  • Accompli has taken over from Mail & Cloudmagic as my office mail client that’s based on Exchange. The integrated calendar feature is quite handy, and so is the attachment section. Microsoft’s purchase of the software only increases the likelihood that it’s going to become even more handy as an Exchange client.
  • MoneyBook is probably the oldest of the lot and one of the first apps that I purchased (for my iPod touch). It’s a pretty simple expense tracker with a nice interface and online backup capabilities.

This of course leaves out the tons of games that I’ve played on my iPad, but does overlap with some apps on my Galaxy S3. A shoutout to some of my other useful apps like Zomato, OneNote, Swarm, Numerous that I use on specific occasions. I’m sure this list will look somewhat different as more apps start leveraging the iOS 8 features and then there’s of course Apple Watch.