My iPhone home screen

Back in August one of my favorite podcasters, Casey Liss, had his iPad home screen featured on MacSparky and I realized lots of people (tech celebs and pros) have had their iPhone and/or iPad home screens featured on either MacSparky or another site called The Sweet Setup.

I recently refactored my iPhone into a single home screen, and I’m quite proud of it, so I thought I’d show it off and hopefully introduce you to a few apps you’ve never heard of and may find useful.

My iPhone home screen
My iPhone home screen

The Single Screen

As I mentioned, I recently refactored to a single screen setup. I have everything roughly grouped into categories: reading on the top row, productivity on the second row, photography and entertainment on the middle row, web and social media on the fourth row, local and money on the bottom row. I keep my most-used apps in each of these categories out on the home screen, and the rest in folders.

Since a year ago with iOS 7, you can now keep an unlimited number of apps in folders. Many of my folders are three pages long and at least one is four pages long. The most used apps in each folder are on the first page of the folder, and my long tail of lesser-used apps is tucked away deep inside these folders. When I’m looking for one of these long-tail apps, I typically pull down Spotlight and launch it that way rather than go digging.

Having everything on the first page may seem cluttered, but it actually means fewer taps of the home button to get all the way back out. When I come out of an app that is in a folder, I can tap one more time to get to my home screen, whereas, if I were in a second- or third-screen folder, I might have to hit the home button two more times to get to the first screen. I’m nothing if not efficient (read: lazy).

The Apps

Apps I couldn’t live without: Kindle (books), Logos (Bible), OmniFocus (getting things done), and Overcast (podcasts).

Apps I love: ComiXology (comicbooks), Dark Sky (weather), Instapaper (read later service), Picturelife (cloud photo storage), Reeder (feed reader), Simple (banking), Soulver (calculator), Textastic (web development), and Tweetbot (Twitter client).

Questions about any other icons you see in the screenshot? Know an awesome app I’m missing? Drop me a line on Twitter or Facebook or toss in a comment below. 

Kindle Save for Later "feature"

tango-bookmark After using my Kindle for four days, one (admittedly small) thing is already bugging me. There is a feature of the Kindle store called “Save for Later”. As I’m browsing the store on my Kindle device and see something I might want to buy later, I can save it. Later, I can access my list of saved items and easily purchase any of them right from that list. Sounds generally useful, right?

The problem I have with this “feature” is that it doesn’t integrate in any way with Amazon’s already existing Wishlist feature. Items I add to my Save for Later list do not appear on my Amazon Wishlist and vice versa. Consequently, there’s no way to access or add items to my Amazon Wishlist from my Kindle, and no way to access or add items to my Save for Later list from Amazon’s website on my computer. This is frustrating for a number of obvious reasons, and I can’t help but feel that Amazon has made a major marketing blunder here. By not allowing me to see my own Wishlist on my Kindle or my Save for Later list on my computer, they’re actually decreasing my access to the things I’ve already decided I eventually want to buy from them. It’s as if the grocery store were to search my pockets at the door and steal any grocery lists they find. That’s an extreme analogy, to be fair, but not entirely far from the reality here.

Now, to cut Amazon some slack, a Kindle book is different from a physical book, and physical books and other items that exist on my Amazon Wishlist would not be very useful to me if I attempted to download them to my Kindle device, so I can see some rationale behind keeping the regular Amazon store and the Kindle store separate from one another. However, since I can browse the Kindle store on my computer and even purchase items and send samples to my Kindle device from my computer, is it really too much to ask for me to be able to add items to my Save for Later list and view that list on my computer? End mark

Update: In December 2009 Amazon enabled support for adding books to an Amazon Wishlist from the Kindle device, effectively merging the “Save for Later” feature with the true Wishlist feature on Amazon.com. I still cannot view non-Kindle items on my Kindle, but I can now view my Kindle book wishlist either on my Kindle or on my Macbook and add/remove items from either place. This is of course much better than before, though I still question the marketing wisdom of not allowing a user to purchase physical items for shipping right from their Kindle. My credit card is on file, Amazon. Why not let me shop your entire catalog from wherever I am using a device I purchased from you?

Amazon Kindle unboxing experience

Amazon Kindle 2

My lovely wife, with help from my parents, her parents, and her Granny, bought me an Amazon Kindle 2 for my birthday. This is the best gift I’ve received in a long time (which is what Janene was going for, since, after all, this was a milestone birthday). Thanks, everybody!

One aspect of the unboxing experience impressed me. You know how most electronic devices come with a thin clear plastic film over the screen to protect it in transit? And you know how sometimes the manufacturer prints something on that film that approximates what the display might look like when turned on, or includes instructions for using the device the first time? Well, keep that in mind and check out this picture of a Kindle 2 fresh in the box (this is not my photo, just a random one I found so I could show you what I’m talking about).

Well, I started peeling the film off and noticed right away these helpful directions weren’t printed on that film! This gave me pause for a moment, wondering if there was a second film I needed to remove, or if Amazon had done something really stupid and printed permanent ink on my device before applying the film, but then I remembered an interesting aspect of e-ink displays: they don’t have to be continuously powered to keep something visible on the screen. Power is only needed to place the ink; whether the device is powered or not, the ink will remain until you replace it or clear it away. As a subtle but impressive touch, Amazon had placed these getting started instructions on the display before it was powered down in the factory. Brilliant! End mark